Published on February 5, 2019
Photos: Veli-Matti Lepistö
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.
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.
PRIME FORTUNE IS THE FIRST IN ASIA TO ADOPT MILLSIGHTS REPORTING SYSTEM.
“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.