LA GRANDE MILL ACQUIRED EMMETT MACHINERY

January 24, 2002 12:00 am
PLANER MOVED TO LA GRANDE:Day shift planerman Ron Miller works on the newer planer brought to La Grande from Boise Cascades closed plant in Emmett, Idaho. The planer now gives the mill two identical planers, which adds efficiency, both in terms of stocking replacement parts and in the operation of the lines. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).
PLANER MOVED TO LA GRANDE:Day shift planerman Ron Miller works on the newer planer brought to La Grande from Boise Cascades closed plant in Emmett, Idaho. The planer now gives the mill two identical planers, which adds efficiency, both in terms of stocking replacement parts and in the operation of the lines. (The Observer/PHIL BULLOCK).

By Ray Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Larry Foley isnt sure what his title is right now at the Boise Cascade sawmill in La Grande.

Im going to be the safety coordinator, slash, environmental compliance guy, slash, maintenance system manager, I guess.

Right now, until this thing gets up and running, Im the planer supervisor.

This thing he referred to was a planer the company bought at auction and a massive amount of related equipment Boise Cascade has brought in from its closed Emmett, Idaho, sawmill.

The newer planer will improve our production and make a quality product better, he said on a tour of the mill at the end of Jackson Avenue.

One of our two planers here was of 1930 vintage and most of the equipment that fed it was about the same age. It just couldnt keep up, Foley said.

It would have cost the company $2 million if it had had to purchase all the equipment new, he said.

Instead, with the machinery from Emmett, we did it for about $750,000, including the cost of the planer. It means a lot to be able to keep running here.

The newer planer now gives the mill two identical planers, which adds efficiency both in terms of stocking replacement parts and in the operation of the lines.

Getting the equipment installed was a four-month project, he said, and the transplanted planer went into operation two weeks ago, Foley said.

All the bugs have been worked out.

Were confident we wont have any problems with it now. With this, we can concentrate on bigger boards, 8-inch, 10-inch, 12-inch width and random width or shop boards. The other line takes the narrower boards, Foley said.

The plant finishes mostly pine, with some fir.

Bringing the equipment to La Grande could also mean a change in the work schedule for some employees, Foley said.

Were running two shifts now. One of the old planers was so slow, we had to run two shifts. Now, running the top two planers, we can work a day shift and wont need to run a swing shift to keep up production. The employees can stay home at night with their families.

It takes approximately 14 people to operate per planer line per shift, but that varies a little, Foley said.

Foley rattled off the list of equipment that was brought in: infeed chains, unstacker hoist, table chains, moisture meter, accelerator table, infeed rolls, outfeed belt, slow-down belt, transfer chains, five hydraulic units, the entire motor control center, sticker belts, green drop-out tables, and other parts such as catwalks and handrails.

Another part of the sawmill that will be upgraded over the next six months is the kiln, Foley said. With the upgraded planer, the kiln is now a bottleneck in the operation.

All these improvements will help keep us more competitive in an era in which log prices are high and the price of lumber is pretty low.

The company is bringing logs from its fee lands in Idaho to the La Grande mill, Foley said.

Reach Ray Linker at

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