A passion for wood combined with an eye for quality

Picture of ARGOS


Richard Lepine, General Manager of Argos Solutions North America, gets passionate when talking about his work. He has been in the industry for more than 25 years and has firsthand experience on how quality inspection systems can improve both wood products and the production facilities. On the eight PELICE show that takes place in Atlanta, GA this week, he is a natural choice to be one of the keynote speakers.

– It was my love for the woods and outdoors in combination with my genuine interest for chemistry that led me to this career, says Richard.

He started as an industrial advisor with the Canadian Wood Research Institute, after finishing his studies in Wood Sciences at Laval University back in 1999. Richard moved on to a position with Uniboard Canada as a technical expert, and the years with this company enabled Richard to truly expand his knowledge and develop his expertise within the quality improvement processes in the industry.

– To work with the different facilities and look at the quality processes in a global perspective was a great learning experience for me. At that time, Uniboard was part of Pfleiderer AG, who was the second largest producers of particleboards, MDF and TFL worldwide. Being involved with a worldwide company in all parts of the production processes, really taught me how to aim for “best practice”.


The position at Uniboard gave Richard a solid foundation as technical expert in the industry. In 2012, Pfleiderer sold Uniboard to Arauco, and Richard stayed with the company in the US.

– My focus areas were quality and process improvements, both in the US and supporting plants in South America selling to the US market. One of the things I learned is that there are three key elements that enables operational efficiency: Quality, Productivity and Up-time. To be successful in the manufacturing industry, companies must utilize the best technology and resources available to maximize the quality of the products they supplied to their customers.


Bringing 20 years of experience to the supplier side

Richard got to know the grading systems from Argos back in 2006, when working with the Uniboard MDF La Baie plant in Canada. He experienced that they provided the newest technology that supported all three mentioned elements. The system detected faults in a reliable way and gave correct and crucial information on impact, type of faults and how it affected the products.  When the company wanted to expand their presence on the North American market in 2018, Richard knew the perfect fit: himself.

– Working for a Norwegian company, that shared my values appealed to me. Argos Solutions has been a pioneer in visual inspection of all types of wooden material. They have always been a leading company, but when they started focusing on Panel Repair line and TFL, they truly positioned themselves as an expert in the market. Expanding grading technology from raw boards to decorative and flooring has also been a huge success, and they are considered one of the leading suppliers to the major players in the industry. In this job, I get to use everything I’ve learned from the past 20 years, as well as keeping in touch with my network.


Sharing his experience at PELICE

With extensive experience and knowledge from both the production and the supplier side of the industry, Richard was a natural choice to be one of the keynote speakers at PELICE 2022, that takes place in Atlanta, GA this week.

– In my presentation I aim to give an overview of the industry, and how they benefit from automatic grading systems. What is the cost of manual grading vs. automatic grading? How does grading systems impact a factory? How will an industry standard affect the production, both from the customers standpoint and the legal aspect?

Richard’s experience gives insight on how transition happens when a factory goes from manual to automatic grading. How to utilize the benefits, and make a smooth transition, is also something he will talk about.

– My objective is to teach the listeners something about the technology of grading systems. That they are better prepared to compare existing procedures to the benefits of an automatic grading system. The presentation will give useful insight both for those who already have systems installed, and for those who are considering the investment.

Today, visual quality is objective. But, as we are moving towards an industrial standard that will require a certain level of quality, the producers must be able to guarantee the visual quality required by the market. This will be extremely difficult when relying on the human eye alone.

– I hope to clarify the common misconception that manual labor is less expensive than a digital system. As many are experiencing difficulties finding the right resources, combined with higher production capacity and stricter quality requirements, to survive and be successful in this industry, shifting to automated control technology is a must. The good thing about trains, is that they keep coming, but you better get on one soon if you want to keep up with the transition, Richard concludes.