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FLIR ThermoVision IR cameras from FLIR Systems Australia used in plywood industry

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article image The FLIR Infrared Camera helps the operator see through the steam to safely complete his tasks

When manufacturing plywood and veneer, it is critical that logs be softened before they are transported into plants for peeling and further processing. If not sufficiently softened, logs can split in the peeling process, resulting in lost productivity and waste.

The process:

To insure logs are properly softened in the plywood and veneer manufacturing process, they are bathed in outdoor troughs filled with a caustic hot-water solution. Once the logs are sufficiently softened, they are removed from these vats, loaded on conveyor belts and transported into the plant for peeling.

The problem:

Logs frequently jam in the vats; to avoid production interruptions and/or downtime, a crane operator using a hydraulic arm unclogs the jams and makes sure the logs keep moving onto the output conveyor.

Seems simple enough, however, oftentimes the crane operator’s view becomes obscured by steam created by the combination of the caustic hot water bath and cooler outdoor temperatures.

During the colder winter months especially, the steam produces almost ‘white-out’ conditions, sometimes blocking the crane operator’s view completely, making it impossible to see where he is swinging his boom.

Out feed cab operators also are hindered when steam obscures visibility. Production comes to a complete halt when the loader cannot see jammed logs through the steam. Not only does the presence of steam reduce productivity throughout the plant, it can compromise worker safety as well.

The solution:

Infrared cameras detect heat energy and, as such, see through fog, steam, smoke and other obscurants. By using the FLIR ThermoVision IR cameras, available from FLIR Systems Australia , several major North American plywood manufacturers have implemented systems that allow crane and out feed cab operators to see through steam and maintain optimal productivity.

The FLIR ThermoVision IR cameras were placed on both the loader roofs and the out feed cabs. The FLIR ThermoVision IR cameras are tilt-mounted and enclosed for protection against rain, debris and other harsh environmental conditions.

Operators view images on high quality flat screen monitors, making it easy to see where logs are jamming regardless of weather conditions. The FLIR ThermoVision IR cameras are affordable and can be easily installed by in-house integration team.

Return on investment:

Before installing infrared cameras, plywood manufacturers were not able to operate effectively from November through March. After installation of the FLIR ThermoVision IR cameras, production levels and safety were maintained year-round, regardless of steam produced by weather conditions.

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