Stop manual patching, start upgrading veneer quality

Are you still patching veneer by hand? Everyone on the wood working business knows that patching holes and knots on veneer manually can be a tedious and time-consuming job. Hassling with knives, trying to align sheets and keeping the veneer quality consistent takes a lot of manpower also. Hence, one of the biggest advantages in adapting more efficient ways to patch is the savings on labor. With a good patching machine, the labor-saving ratio can be up to 1:10.

Patching with a machine is faster, more efficient and safer. However, when investing in patching machinery the pros and cons should be calculated precisely. Does it give more yield, does it lead to labor savings, how often the machinery needs to be maintained and does it really do a better job? The tradition of patching manually is rooted deep, but there are better and more efficient ways for patching veneer.  

“The technology itself isn’t new since patching machines have been on the market for a long time. However, the quality of the machines and especially the dies used in them have significantly improved in the last few years, and Raute P2 technology has set a new benchmark” says Shawn Cheo, Vice President of Raute Asia and Oceania, Singapore.

With one-man operated patching machinery, the labor costs decrease significantly. This is simply due to the fact that the
machine can patch a sheet full of defects even 10 times faster than when patched by hand. While wood is a delicate material and needs a lot of manual effort, patching might not be a task you want to do by hand.

“The patch needs to be the same quality as the rest of the sheet, but when done by hand, the hole and the patch are never the same shape or size,” states Jukka Siiriäinen, Raute Group Vice President, Grow. “This leads to irregular quality. As we all know, a human can never be as precise as a machine. With a patching machine, the patch is perfectly fitted for each defect thus upgrading the veneer quality,” he adds.

Raute Butterfly Patch
Raute butterfly patches even suit joint patching
Manual patch
Hand patched

Keeping it together with butterfly patches

Because the quality of the end product is the main point of patching, the shape of the patch and how it is cut make a lot of difference. With manual patching, the shapes and sizes vary, and the quality is uneven. With a good machine, the patch fits the defects perfectly and there’s no need for manual repair and gluing of the patch afterwards.

“With manual patching, there’re always going to be defects on the edge of the patch, but with P2 butterfly patches, the patch is secure since the patch holds firmly and doesn’t pop off later in the production process,” Shawn Cheo states.

Thermo-bond taping
Thermo-bond taping to repair veneer splits.

A butterfly type patch is the recommended veneer patch type. The P2 butterfly patches ensure a bigger contact area and better adhesion than oval shaped patches. With P2 butterfly patches you can save up to 25% in patching material costs compared to the boat type patches. Due to their retention properties butterfly-type patches bear double the load compared to other patch types.

“But defects vary in shape and size. That’s why we make several different patch types and sizes. We can also offer an integrated thermo-bond taping feature in our patching machines, depending on the customer needs,” adds Marko Perttilä, Portfolio Manager, Raute.



With a patching machine, the patch is perfectly fitted for each defect thus upgrading the veneer quality.

Jukka Siiriäinen

Group Vice President, Grow

Why would you invest?

P2 Patcher Die
The P2 die lifespan is around 50 million patches,
and sharpening interval 2 million patches.

“Usually mills see the biggest expense not as the machine itself, but the possible maintenance. But with a die that lasts for around 50 million patches, and a robust machine structure, you can use the same patching machine for 15-20 years and minimize maintenance costs,” Jukka Siiriäinen, Raute notes.

All in all, manual patching will soon be history. Machines win in every aspect; quality, efficiency and safety. The quality of the veneer is upgraded, and the veneer recovery can be up to 30 times more than with composing. And of course, it’s a cliché but true, safety is always key. Not a single hand will be harmed by a knife anymore. Last but not least, end product rejects due to veneer hand patching errors will be significantly reduced with high quality patches.


International Panel & Lumber (IPL) Modernizes Lathe

International Panel & Lumber (IPL) in New Zealand produces wood panel and plywood products from renewable plantation-grown pine trees. They recently decided to modernize the charger and lathe on their peeling line to ensure reliability and improve productivity. After careful consideration, they decided that Raute solutions would meet their goals best.

IPL modernizes lathe and charger

International Panel and Lumber (West Coast) Ltd., IPL for short, is a well-established company and they have been operating for over 50 years on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. They have been using renewable plantation grown radiata pine in their production since the 1980s. One of the essential parts of their operation is their peeling and drying line, which produces 1.5, 2.4 and 3mm veneer for the production of 1200mm x 2400mm panels. IPL manufactures a range of products that covers industrial to appearance grade applications, including everything from signs and flooring to concrete forming.

Although their peeling line was producing a high-quality veneer, IPL knew that it was time to modernize some of the key equipment. They were running a COE (today part of USNR) M760 charger, as well as a COE M249 lathe, which dated from about 1976. The most urgent need was to replace the lathe spindles because they were damaged and cracked, however the charger also had scope for improvement because it relied on a mechanical yoke assembly to optimize and center the logs. As a result, IPL contacted Raute to ask about the most suitable options for modernization.

IPL modernizes lathe and chargerUPDATE, OPTIMIZE AND IMPROVE

During their discussions, Raute demonstrated that the old COE charger and yoke system resulted in the loss of a large amount of veneer to waste or random veneer. The business case for upgrading was so clear that IPL decided to replace their charging system too. Raute upgraded the old M760 charger with a Smart Scan HD XY scanning system, a hydraulic XY correction system and new Allen Bradley PLC controls. Raute also took care of the old lathe, and replaced the damaged spindles with new Raute dual spindles, complete with new hydraulics, lubrication and controls.


Raute carefully planned the project together with IPL so that it had minimum effect on their production. The installation took place during the annual boiler compliance shut down, and the accompanying work was performed during the dayshift over 2 weeks. This was followed by one week of production commissioning. Combined with good communication, carefully managed staff schedules and staggered production stoppages, this prevented any disruptions to IPL’s sales.

"The upgrades improved recovery, conversion and productivity,”

Robert Dumelow

General Manager, International Panel and Lumber.

IPL modernizes charger and latheGOOD CUSTOMER UNDERSTANDING

One of the reasons that IPL selected Raute was that they showed a good understanding of their business. For example, Raute understood the importance of not over capitalizing with a small production plant like IPL. In addition, Raute was also flexible enough to move the schedule forward by a month to ensure that installation coincided with the boiler shut down.

IPL is happy to say that they are pleased with the finished installation, and that it met their timeline and budgeted costs. Overall, good communication, planning and understanding between Raute and IPL made the project a success.


IPL’s main target for the modernization was to improve the reliability of their peeling and drying line. Upgrading the charger as well as the lathe ensured that they could also improve their efficiency and productivity. Together, the modernized systems resulted in better recovery and conversion from the block to peeled veneer, and better veneer presentation and usage at the dryer, with less random and fish-tail veneer. This means that the line can produce more full sheets

at the dryer with less waste. And because they can keep the dryer full, their line has higher capacity, increasing their productivity.

IPL modernizes lathe and charger to increase efficiencyBENEFITING THE BUSINESS AND THE REGION

Since the installation and commissioning, the modernized systems have met IPL’s expectations, with both improved capacity and yield. In addition, they have also achieved 10% smaller core peeled than they had with the older spindles, providing another unexpected but welcome benefit from the project.

IPL’s shareholders are also pleased because they see it as an investment in the future of IPL and its staff, and the West Coast region of New Zealand. It can be difficult to raise large amounts of capital for larger projects, so cost-effective modernizations are an attractive option. Such investments are important to smaller regions, so it is especially important that the projects like this one are a success.

Ready to modernize your lathe or charger to increase capacity and yield? Contact us, we would love to hear from you.

Garnica Group upgraded to Smart Scan HD with autocalibration

The Garnica Group is the biggest poplar plywood producer in Europe and they have been using Raute solutions for many years, including a Raute peeling line at their Valencia de Don Juan mill. Installed in 2003, the block centering technology at the Valencia de Don Juan mill was finally in need of an update. Garnica selected Raute’s Smart Scan HD as the best option.

Smart Scan HD with AutocalibrationThe Garnica Group is headquartered in Logroño, La Rioja, Spain. Altogether, they have six mills, with five in Spain: Baños I, Baños II, Fuenmayor, Valencia de Don Juan and Maderas de Llodio (a softwood mill), as well as the Samazan mill in the south of France. In total, Garnica Group employs around 1.200 people and their mills produce 300.000 m3/y poplar PLW and 50.000 m3/y softwood PLW. They export more than 90% of their production.


The Garnica Group has had good experience with Raute solutions over the years, and they operate 4 Raute veneer peeling lines, as well as other Raute equipment for processes including roller- and screen drying and grading, lay-up with gluing, pressing, composing, and scarfing.

Their Valencia de Don Juan mill was the first Garnica mill to install a Raute peeling line, back in 2003. This included a Raute PCLH 800×1400 XY-charger with SLS 6000-single point laser, which served the mill well for many years. However, by the beginning of 2019, the 16-year-old block centering technology clearly needed to be modernized. The laser sensors and control PC were no longer available, and the system needed to be calibrated several times a month, which required too much maintenance time.

When the mill decided on the replacement technology, their main targets were to improve the centering performance and the veneer recovery and to eliminate end of life components. They also wanted to improve the adjustment and calibration procedure, to ensure the values were consistently correct.

After discussing the advantages of the new Smart Scan HD system with Raute, it was obvious that it was the right choice to modernize the line.


Garnica ordered the Smart Scan HD with autocalibration from Raute in January 2019. The system was delivered and installed in May 2019 during a scheduled production stop over a long weekend. With the help of Raute specialists during the start-up, the line was running at full capacity within a few days.

“Smart Scan HD with autocalibration drastically decreased maintenance hours,”

José Augusto Huerga

Technical Director of Garnica’s Valencia don Juan mill

Smart Scan HD with Autocalibration at Garnica MillSUCCESS WITH SMART SCAN HD

Since the start-up, the Valencia de Don Juan mill has had very good results with the new Smart Scan HD system. The log centering is better, and the length and diameter measurements are more accurate. The Smart Scan HD system reads every log much better than the old laser system, all along the length, and it also detects dark/black zones and bark better. And, thanks to the autocalibration, they have drastically decreased their maintenance hours. Overall, it’s clear that the peeling line performance has been improved.



The mill is also particularly pleased with the autocalibration system because they don’t have to worry about centering offset adjustments or sensor calibration. In fact, they have only spent a few maintenance hours in the last 6 months at the XY charger. The system automatically calibrates itself, measuring and comparing continuously to correct the axis home position. The autocalibration system also provides data which can be used to track performance and predict mechanical failure.

Together, Smart Scan HD and the autocalibration system have improved production and reduced maintenance time, adding value and profitability to the whole peeling line.

Smart Scan HD with Autocalibration in Valencia de Don Juan, SpainPROPER MAINTENANCE FOR CONTINUOUS PRODUCTION

Proper maintenance is important for Valencia mill to maintain high performance. A Service Agreement with Raute ensures production lines to be always well maintained and crucial parts changed before possible problems. That ensures predictable production and mill operations.

Find out more about how the Smart Scan HD can improve recovery at your mill by emailing us today.

Sveza Kostroma took a huge leap in veneer recovery

Plywood producers are facing more and more challenges in the availability of high-quality raw material. The percentage of small diameter logs is constantly increasing. At the same time, plywood mills are seeking an optimal way to utilize raw material. One solution is to invest in technology that converts side products into high-quality veneer. This is where RauteLite technology comes in.

BACK IN 2016, Sveza Kostroma plywood mill, one of the most modern and efficient birch plywood mills in Russia and a key production unit within the Sveza Group, decided to take a leap to maximize its raw material utilization. The solution was the RauteLite concept.

Line capacity, ease of use, high thickness accuracy and safety were clearly targeted in the investment.

High thickness accuracy

The idea was to increase mill recovery by re-peeling cores from the main lathe with the RauteLite peeling line. Cores from the recently modernized 8-ft Raute VE lathe are automatically conveyed to the RauteLite block sawing line, then peeled into a 4 x 4-ft dimension on the RauteLite peeling line. The dried veneers are composed into full 4 x 8-ft sheets used as short core veneers in the lay-up.

The delivery was made in summer 2017 and installation followed in the fall within the normal production. The line was tested with all different core diameters: minimum 73 mm, average 80 mm, Raute’s recommended 95 mm and even 200 mm diameter blocks (spinouts).

Various raw material qualities were tested as well: solid, core decay, soft decay, unconditioned, cylinder-shaped and conical cylinder-shaped blocks. With all raw materials, the line was able to peel veneer down to 30-mm cores. The line did not make miracles, if the wood material was too poor, but the most critical criteria – high thickness accuracy was achieved, always reaching the general target of +/- 0.1 mm tolerance.

RauteLite peeling line maximizes raw material utilization. Peeling with round-up and log handling – all in one line.

Remarkable savings

The new investment has already proven to be successful for Kostroma. “It solves the problem by reducing the raw material consumption and changing the method of balancing the production of 4-ft and 8-ft veneers. This project allows us to save up to 800 m3 of raw material per month”, explains Director Viktor Tikhonov.

Viktor Tikhonov has worked in Sveza for 19 years and for 26 years in the plywood business in total. “The following main task for our mill will be cost reduction in all areas, and I look forward to the Raute G5 concept.”

Raute’s Sales Manager Kimmo Ahonen is proud to benchmark Sveza Kostroma’s RauteLite line which is not expensive or complicated to use, but provides new capacity from normally unused cores.

“Sveza Kostroma may have been the first to repeel cores on a separate line, but they surely won’t be the last. A new era to discover more with RauteLite has begun.”


Efficient peeling of small diameter blocks

RauteLite peeling line was originally developed for the ease of use and the efficiency of peeling plantation logs. The new spindleless lathe utilizes Raute’s long experience in veneer peeling. Optimal peeling geometry (OPG) responds to the need of utilizing small diameter logs. Providing high recovery, it is an excellent solution to maximize veneer production together with main lathes. •

Efficiency to new heights at Prime Fortune

Prime Fortune, a family run plywood manufacturer in southern Taiwan, has been investing in modern machinery since the factory first started. The company founder, Mr. Hsiao Shin-Chu brought the first unit of Raute automatic veneer scarf-jointing line into Taiwan. More investments with Raute were made to include the automatic log cutting line, high-speed peeling line, veneer drying line, and automatic veneer grading line.

PRIME FORTUNE, under the leadership of the late Mr. Hsiao Shin-Chu, was the first in the Asian plywood market to recognize the global call to green wood resources and converted to use 100% planted pine from New Zealand. He was awarded “Best Business Man” in the Republic of China in 1994 for his vision and contributions.

Prime Fortune, the number one in the Taiwanese plywood industry, played a leading role by bringing in the latest available technology to ensure optimum quality and efficiency. The second generation owner, Mr. Hsiao Jen Yuan, has taken over the business and has lifted the factory’s efficiency to new heights.

Prime Fortune
Raw material tests in Raute Nastola.

Mill modernization started with a new peeling line

Mr Hsiao Jen Yuan’s first move to ensure consistant veneer quality was to invest in the new Raute peeling line to replace the old Japanese peeling line. High productivity, reliability, and good veneer quality from the new Raute peeling line are the key to ensure smooth operations from the start, which leads to higher quality products. Recovery comes automatically as a result of good centering, thanks to the latest SmartScan XY HD automatic centering. All of these resulted in higher efficiency and lower running costs, generating higher profits for the business.

According to Mr. Hsiao, the smart peel is a very good line as it offers 3–5% more recovery compared to the old line. Capacity is double, compared to the old line thanks to the faster centering and a quicker round up.

New cameras and moisture analysers were incorporated into the old Raute drying line, which check and sort the veneers automatically by visual grades and moisture content. Prime Fortune now aims to have zero defects in the production process.


“Our modernization project’s utmost goal was to improve end-product quality and expand the market share. During the process, we also reduced costs by reducing manual work”, Mr. Hsiao says.

“Peeling line modernization led to improved thickness tolerance. Recovery improved by 1–3%, even though it was not the main driver. The production volume improved because of better thickness tolerance. There is also now much less need for sanding. Mecano cameras work well and they increase the face veneer percentage compared to manual grading more than 5–10%.”

“Raute was chosen due to the total process understanding and good service, including spare parts supply and after sales services. We now have a service contract with an inspection twice a year and maintenance work from three to four weeks in total. Proper maintenance eliminates breakdowns beforehand”, Mr. Hsiao explains.

Raute 4ft VS lathe has been running for 20 years. Mr. Hsiao decided to give the machine a second life by modernizing all the controls and electrical components to the latest available upgrades. Completed with a new Laser XY charger, the machine is now running like a new one.

Pushing for efficiency

After long considerations and study, Prime Fortune invested in a new P2 patching line from Raute, which will be installed in 2019. It will reduce labour costs, compared to the current manual process. Although labour costs are still affordable in Asia, accuracy and quality are far more important in the process.

Prime Fortune is the first in Asia to adopt the MillSIGHTS production data reporting system for their operations. Easy to use, keeps a record of the production and operations trends.

Now there is an easier tool to know what has happened, how it happened, when it happened, and how often.

Despite already being the market leader in Taiwan, Mr Hsiao continuously pushes for efficiency, recovery and productivity. Long-term plans are in place, such as the full automatic layup line, full automatic putty line and so on. This is in line with the management philosophy of Prime Fortune’s founding owner.

York Timbers doubled capacity in two years

York Timbers, a South African plywood manufacturer, continues the development of its plywood production capability. The company has been a forerunner in modernization within the African plywood industry. The target has been to develop an internationally competitive and environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing facility. Sustainable forestry management practices and constant genetic improvements provide the best possible softwood raw material.

YORK TIMBERS AND RAUTE signed a Partnership Agreement in 2017. Since then technological co-operation has been intensified. Key personnel from both companies have visited the operations of each other in order to develop co-operation roadmaps with specific milestones.

York Timbers is the largest single plywood manufacturer in Africa. The latest bold investments have amazingly almost doubled the plywood production within a few years to around 135,000 m3/a. The main investments included: a new steam conditioning chamber, 22-hot sections dryer and the latest was a 48-opening, 8×4 ft hot press, which is the biggest of its type in Africa and in Europe. Co-operation between the project teams of York and Raute was efficient and effective throughout the project. This was a key element contributing to the successful installation and commissioning of the project. A detailed time schedule was developed together and York Timbers was thoroughly prepared to assemble and install the new press.

Two old, unreliable presses were replaced with one new hi-tech pressing line which has the capability to meet the increased capacity requirement. The high-quality plywood is produced through accurate temperature distribution and thickness control in the hot platens during the pressing phase. Double feeding and water spraying are some of the technical features integrated, as well as tailor-made recipes for different thicknesses and constructions.

We asked York Timbers’ group engineer, Schalk Grobbelaar, about the project


– The key aspect contributing to the success of the project was the preparation performed before the press arrived. Preparation for the installation of the press commenced even before the order was confirmed with Raute. Both teams reviewed and communicated specifications and drawings regularly in order to ensure that expectations on both sides were similar. The Raute team visited the site before the installation to monitor progress and also to ensure that both teams had the same expectations. Construction and installation of all the services related to the press were completed before installation of the press commenced. During the project some challenges were experienced but the team (Raute and York) remained committed to the objectives and worked together to find solutions as quick as possible. Installation of the press commenced on time and the project was completed ahead of schedule. Commissioning of the press went well and the press achieved the designed capacity within two weeks of commissioning.


– The press is performing as promised. This includes specifications related to production capacity, the level of automation, reliability, maintainability, after sales service and support, energy consumption and the quality of the panels being produced.


– The co-operation with Raute before, during and after the project has been exceptional and it is one of the key reasons that the project was such a big success. Being far from Europe is always a challenge when partnering with a European supplier. However, the team has managed to overcome the distance through regular and effective communication, which ensured that all parties were aligned at all times.


– Extracting the maximum value from the available raw material is key to the success of York. For this reason, York is continuously considering operational and technological improvements. Raute has been a great partner in terms of regularly improving their services, providing operational and technological advice and delivering on promises. This enables York to do the same for our customers.


– York is an integrated forestry, sawmilling, plywood, remanufacturing and wholesale company. York endeavours to perform business in an environmentally and socially responsible and sustainable manner. York is FSC accredited and plays an integral role in the communities surrounding its operations in order to ensure sustainability. York continuously monitors its impact on the environment and strives to develop environmentally sustainable solutions, for example, by generating power from biomass, improving energy efficiency and sequestering carbon through optimal utilization of the available raw material.

A Finnish company developed a veneer bike

Wood-based products are now strongly experiencing a new era of popularity and new applications are found, for instance, in design.

THE BEAUTY and individual structure of wood is not the only reason that enhances the use of wood. Important factors are also the consumers’ interest in renewable materials and in endeavours to make ecological and sustainable choices. A good example of this is the Wiilubike – a bicycle with a body made of wood.

Wiilubike was developed by the Finnish Wood Innovations Finland Oy.

The starting point for the design of the wooden bike was to emphasize the possibilities of the utilisation of wood in products where it is traditionally not known to be used.

”A wooden bike as a thought felt sufficiently technical and outstanding, compared, for example, with traditional furniture”, says Ilari Alaruka, the founder of the company.

The design of Wiilubike is functional and simple and it really stands out. The bike was designed by means of 3D simulation. The style and initial prototypes and drawings were created directly from 3D files. The bodies of the production models are milled with a 5-shaft milling machine from a form-pressed blank, which guarantees a perfect fit of the metal and wooden components in the assembly. The manufacturing technique also enhances the manufacture of bodies of different sizes and shapes by changing the manufacturing tracks. Veneer of any species can be used for the face.

Raute New Applications
A Finnish company developed a veneer bike.

The business customers of Wiilubike are companies in the wood and forest industries, as well as companies, into whose values, operations and brands Wiilubike brings additional value for increased support and awareness. Some end user customers of Wiilubike wish to support the Finnish wood and forest industries, whereas others wish to communicate on the ecology. ”The owner of a Wiilubike is a brave and open-minded optimist, who lives to the full every moment”.

In terms of the material, strict requirements are set on the veneer quality. The veneer shall be strong and free of knots. The torsional rigidity required of the bike body is attained with carefully made glue lines and the correct grain directions. Nevertheless, the wooden body retains an appropriate elasticity and dampens vibrations on uneven ground without loosing its riding properties.

The veneer is peeled from birch blocks by Koskisen Oy with Raute lathes. The veneer is processed and form pressed into parts for the bike body. Other components are supplied by players in the field around the world, and assistance for the assembly is provided by the Finnish bike factory Salon Polkupyörätehdas.