A newly installed continuous dry kiln at EACOM's Timmins sawmill is expected to increase output and improve energy efficiency, giving the company a competitive edge as it battles against countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed by the U.S.
Installed in September, the continuous dry kiln is the first of its kind in eastern Canada. It continually pushes lumber through the kiln, eliminating a bottleneck in the system, while keeping the energy output roughly the same.
Production at the sawmill is expected to grow from 130 million board feet to 160 million board feet annually.
"EACOM has been consistent in its strategy of growth and continuous improvement," said EACOM's president-CEO Kevin Edgson in a statement released at the time.
"This investment demonstrates our commitment to the Timmins sawmill."
Christine Leduc, EACOM's director of public affairs, said the kiln is just one of several improvements the company has made at its Timmins mill following the 2012 fire that destroyed half the operation.
After the initial $27-million investment to rebuild what was lost, increasing capacity by 20 per cent, the company invested in some tech upgrades in 2015 and 2016 before installing the kiln last year.
Improvements weren't limited to the Timmins operation. In 2017, EACOM also installed a lumber grader at its Elk Lake mill and completed the acquisition of the engineered wood mill in Sault Ste. Marie, which was previously a joint venture between EACOM and Canfor.
"Because we have limited resources, we're trying to make and identify the best capital projects to get the best return on investment, learn from experience, and really find what's the best fit for our sawmills," Leduc said.
"You really have to take a look at the equipment you have in place, what is creating bottlenecks and if you release one bottleneck, will there be others that you hadn't thought of which may get in the way of you realizing the full return on investment."
EACOM owns two sawmills in Quebec, along with five sawmills in Ontario--Timmins, Gogama, Elk Lake, Ear Falls, Nairn Centre and the Sault plant, which makes I-joists.
Leduc said continuously making improvements is one way the company can stay competitive in the midst of the contentious softwood lumber dispute with the U.S.
The U.S. and Canada have been unable to come to an agreement on the trade of softwood lumber after a former, nine-year agreement expired in 2015.
American producers allege that the Canadian industry...