A recently commissioned Wood-Mizer TITAN sawmill line at Panbult Denne Saagmeule in Mpumalanga flexes its muscles.
The Drakensberg or Dragon Mountain range that runs 1000 kilometres from north to south across South Africa, splits Mpumalanga into high-altitude grasslands and low-altitude subtropical savanna.
Warm tropical air from the Indian Ocean that hits the Dragons back results in high rainfall.
This makes Mpumalanga, one of South Africa’s nine provinces the most productive timber production region in the country. Some 489,073 hectares or 41% of the roughly 1.2 million hectares of land planted in SA planted to trees grow in Mpumalanga.
It’s on the high elevations of the Mpumalanga Highveld that Panbult Denne Saagmeule is located.
Headed up by veteran sawmiller Henry Bruwer, the family has timber in their blood.
Henry’s brother, Bennie heads up nearby Nu-Scotland and Churchill Sawmills. The Bruwer’s are also founding members of the Private Sawmillers Association.
Its timber farmer members grow trees, trade logs and negotiate for better log prices when they buy logs from commercial growers in the area like Mondi and Sappi.
Henry’s timber business includes forests, harvesting teams, sawmilling and logistics to move logs from in-forest to mill and finished products to customers.
Panbult Denne Saagmeule is the heartbeat of this highly successful timber enterprise that Henry started in 2000.
Seize the moment
Panbult’s first investment to increase productivity came in the shape of a sawmill line from Brazil in 2010.
It gave Panbult the critical mass it needed to expand production with supply contracts to furniture, pallet and crate manufacturers building the mill’s profitability.
2020, the COVID pandemic, the lengthy lock-down that resulted from it, and a slower economy offered opportunities that Henry’s entrepreneurial spirit could not refuse.
“Ongoing forest maintenance and harvesting schedules went on despite Covid,” Henry says.
“Suddenly we had an oversupply of thinnings and small diameter, short-length logs in the area. From experience, we invest when the market dips.
“We saw this as an opportunity to invest in a new line to build greater capacity,” Henry smiles.
What to buy?
Panbult’s checklist of requirements for the new line to suppliers bidding for the contract included innovation, speed – simplicity – automation, robust design, local spares and technical support and a can-do attitude, the ability to tick all these boxes vital to Panbult’s ability to makes the new line a success.
“In 2019, a trip to Europe included a visit to Wood-Mizer’s manufacturing facility in Koło in Poland there stand at Ligna in Hannover, Germany. I liked what I saw,” Henry shares.
“The innovation across the range is impressive. The level of engineering and design, the production facilities – it was all an eye-opener. Wood-Mizer is going places. I liked what I saw.”
Speed – Simplicity – Automation
“Panbult’s daily sawn timber output is roughly 120 m³/day. For us to meet that quota sawing small diameter, short-length logs we needed speed and accuracy. Estimates showed that Wood-Mizer TITAN TV2000 Twin Vertical Saw matched to a TITAN EG800 Edger/Multirip could deliver on that. Since installing the line, and still easing it into full production, the line’s already delivered on its promise,” Henry confirms.
The simplicity of the process – cants ripped into board adds to the speed. The automation of the line also contributes to the speed, a slashed salary bill for only four workers a further bonus,” Henry adds.
“Panbult is located in a high rainfall and lightning strike area. The line’s electronic cut size control systems are robust, simple to fix and use which is ideal for our climate. The majority of the line is also mechanical, making it reliable and easy to maintain,” Henry continues.
Local Spares and Technical Support
“Spares for the line from Brazil has always been a problem, the delay getting spares from that country to SA slowing production down.
“With Wood-Mizer, it’s completely different. Weekly deliveries of consumables, blades, and spares from the company’s branches in Johannesburg and Nelspruit ensures full inventories and we don’t lose money with drawn out stoppages when we have technical issues.
Wood-Mizer’s technical support is also exceptional. They go beyond the call of duty to keep us running,” Henry enthuses.
“Wood-Mizer has from the design, installation, commissioning, and now initial production phases never shirked from going the extra mile for us. Nothing is too much effort – the team’s can-do attitude is admirable. This is also not exclusive to Panbult. Nu Scotland and Churchill, my brother’s mills have the same level of service.” Henry concludes.
What’s in the tech
The TV2000 is an efficient and affordable twin vertical primary breakdown solution to cut logs into a two-sided cant.
It bridges the gap between narrow and wide-band technologies in the small to medium-sized sawmilling sector with customers having more flexibility to run wider blades for more performance, or narrower blades that makes for a simpler saw maintenance process.