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

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE IN TERMS OF THE INSTALLATION AND COMMISSIONING OF THE PRESS?

– 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.

DID THE PRESS MEET YOUR EXPECTATIONS?

– 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.

HAS THE CO-OPERATION WITH RAUTE BEEN SUCCESSFUL?

– 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.

WHAT ARE YORK’S FUTURE DEVELOPMENT PLANS?

– 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.

WHAT IS YORK’S APPROACH TO SUSTAINABILITY?

– 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.


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