When Swanson Group acquired the Springfield plywood production facilities in Oregon in 2007 from Mackenzie Forest Products, they were aiming to be one of the largest and most diverse producers of forest products. But in late 2014, tragedy struck when fire consumed the Springfield plant, setting the stage for rebuilding the plant. To do so, they decided to rebuild using the best technology and make this facility one of their most profitable. The planned state-of-the-art facility aimed for a new level of technology and quality, and one of the efforts was the implementation of the Argos Panel Repair System (PRS), supported by the local Con-Vey material handling expertise.
Remarkable cost savings, impressive flexibility
Quality control manager Shawn Crager joined Swanson Group in 2016 and worked closely with the Argos team when commissioning the system in late 2018. “The decision to purchase the PRS-system was made because we wanted to upgrade our equipment and enhance the quality of our repairs. The Argos system exceeded by far what the competitors could offer, and the ability to handle such a variety in species, sizes, and products was essential to us”, says Shawn. Argos and Con-Vey built the system, and internal contractors installed it on site. Together with the Argos team from Norway, Shawn commissioned the system, making sure everything ran correctly.
Part of what makes our company unique is that we handle many different types of hardwood, and the specifications for repairs and grain pattern complexity varies. We needed a system that could handle our many requirements. This PRS system is awesome, and the quality of repairs is unmatchable, says Shawn. In addition to being a reliable and sturdy system, the cost savings have been remarkable. The Argos system uses only a fraction of the poly and putty, reducing the cost compared to how we worked earlier. This is a system that truly has given the return on investment, he continues.
In partnership with Con-Vey, Argos has delivered an automated Panel Repair System with advanced scanner technology. The line was designed with a 14 panels/min capacity to meet the repair volume needed for this facility. The PRS can repair a variety of panel species and sizes, and for the Swanson production line, the system handles panels up to 4×10 feet. There are multiple stations with routers, putty, and poly heads providing quality repairs.
One of the advantages of that setup is that it ensures smooth and efficient handling of the panels. A forklift transports the panel stacks into the stack turner, before entering the PRS system. Then the panels are pushed down on the Con-Vey 10 belt vacuum conveyor, which is essential in order to get accurate positioning when repairing the defects detected by the ARGOS scanner. These images give information to the repair stations, that again do their job with router, putty, and poly tools. The various repair stations can perform several tasks, and it is possible to implement several tools on each station. When the panels are repaired, they are moved to the curing tower, where the patches solidified. If two-sided repairs are required, the stacks are turned and the process is repeated.
ARGOS PRS SCANNER AND STATION 1: The Argos Panel Repair system was installed in 2018, and uses innovative technology to detect and repair faults in the panels.
A partnership that pushes innovation
For Swanson, Argos has been a valuable partner. – “We can rely on their team to make further improvements to our products and system. Even though we’re based on each side of the Atlantic, we don’t experience any communication problems or reduced level of service. When we want to try new sorts of wood, we alert Argos, and they connect remotely to our system from Norway and proceed to the testing. They help us push the envelope, allowing us to see which possibilities we have within the different segments. They are a driver for continuous innovation in our production line. The way the market develops, we strongly believe there will be a higher demand for specialty products, and we are heading in that direction”, Shawn says.
“It is motivating for us to work with a customer like Swanson”, says Richard Lepine, General Manager for Argos Solutions in North America. They are number one in niche markets, and they make products that very few offer. To be able to contribute to the market leader in specialty plywood products is rewarding and contributes to a strong focus on innovation from our side. Swanson now has one of the most advanced repair systems we have delivered, a result of our ability to tailor-make the solution based on the customer needs. “This will also benefit our other customers in the US market”, Richard concludes.
SPW QC Team: The team that works with quality inspections at Swanson are confident in the added value the Argos System has provided to the business. left to right: Sierra Franger, Brandon Kofoid, Trevor Farmer, and Shawn Crager
Norwegian technology to the world market
Based in Kongsberg, Norway, Argos Solutions is a world-leading technology company that has developed digital inspection systems since 1997. Their core business is engineering, design, and manufacture of Surface Grading Systems and Panel Repair Systems (PRS) for the wood panel and building industry worldwide. Their PRS system is a fast and accurate system for plywood and other wood panels. Instead of manually detect and repair flaws and faults in the wood panels, the Argos system scans and repairs the panels. Argos Solutions has delivered more than 300 systems to more than 40 countries across the world.
For additional information:
Marketing and Communication Director, Argos Solutions
Ph: +47 982 14 055