Norra Timber invests SEK 400 million in advanced X-ray technology

New X-ray technology at Norra Timber's sawmills in Sävar and Kåge will be able to identify the internal properties of logs, such as knots and other imperfections.

“Our investment amounts to a substantial total of SEK 400 million”, says Norra Timber’s Industry Manager, Henrik Jönsson.

Published 12 June 2024

PhotoVictor Lundberg and Microtec

The sawmill in Sävar bought its first X-ray equipment back in 2017, which led to an increase in production of 6,000 cubic meters of timber planks a year - equivalent to 100 fully-loaded truck trailers. Now Norra Timber has bought even more advanced equipment, which it hopes will lead to an additional increase in profits.

In addition to providing information on how the logs should be turned to produce more planks, the new equipment utilizes AI to provide information on the quality of the log and the type of products that different parts of the log are most suited for.
“The equipment produces X-rays just like in a hospital. The difference is that scanning is faster. Each log only takes two seconds to process”, says Henrik Jönsson.

Scanner at Kåge såg

Norra Timber is investing a total of SEK 400 million in the new equipment being installed at its sawmills in Sävar and Kåge in northern Sweden. The new X-ray technology, which should be completely operational by the autumn of 2025, will be utilized at the very beginning of the production process. As trucks arrive with the logs, each log will be scanned to calculate dimensions and provide an overview of the log's internal properties.

“By scanning the logs from the outset we can sort them according to their quality and unique internal properties. If a customer wants high-quality planks for furniture without knots that are suitable for undergoing the special drying process required, we can identify which logs would be best before we even start sawing them”, says Henrik Jönsson.

He adds:

“Thanks to the X-rays we can also calculate the optimal number of planks we can generate from each log, which reduces wastage. We can therefore extract the maximum value from each log. A log with a large branch can be turned with the help of the X-ray machine so that the branch only ends up on one plank and the next plank is free of imperfections. Logs account for 75 percent of our costs, so we want to get as much value from them as possible”.

The primary purpose of the investment is to be able to assign production data to each individual log. In the future each log can also be marked with a unique ID number - a kind of ‘log fingerprint’.

“The ability to trace our products and get data about the timber’s environmental impact will give us a competitive advantage. It will also be a driving force in how we can improve our environmental credentials”, says Henrik Jönsson, who concludes:

“By mapping each plank we can easily go back and see if something has gone wrong during the production process. We can also see how much energy was used for each product, which gives us much better control over costs and our environmental impact”.

This latest investment will ensure Norra Timber's sawmills continue to be at the technological forefront of its industry and remain competitive in the years to come.

Henrik Jönsson, Industry Manager Norra Timber