Copiah Lumber Company is Blazing an Innovative Path To Maximum Utilization in the Magnolia State

2/23/2016 1:31:20 PM

Craig Pyron, co-owner of Copiah Lumber Company, pictured with the first ST 62 Lumber Pro from Cleereman Industries.

The paths to success in the lumber business are as varied as the patterns on an oak leaf. So was the foundation and growth of Copiah Lumber Company of Crystal Springs, Mississippi. Founded by Craig Pyron in 1986, this prosperous and growing hardwood mill grew out of a small short pulpwood trading operation. Ever the forward thinker, Craig began buying standing timber, with brother, John Pyron, taking charge of harvesting operations.

Always seeking ways to maximize utilization, the brothers installed a Hurdle Portable sawmill in 1990 and began producing ties, cants, matts and lumber. Successful by any measure, by 1996 the ever increasing cost of standing timber and gate logs ushered in the next major growth phase. To improve yield by reducing kerf loss. Bob Rose, of Rose Machinery, a well-respected sawmill equipment dealer who represented Cleereman in the Southeast, assisted with the design and installation of a Cleereman LP-42 with the latest linear positioning and seven foot McDonough band headrig. Over two decades later that original Cleereman carriage is still sawing lumber every day.

Not one to shy away from innovation, other efforts were made to realize the ever expanding benefits of thin kerf technology, Copiah Lumber installed a West Plains 660 Resaw system and at one time even attempted primary breakdown with 1 ½” thin kerf systems. These proved incapable of producing the quality and volume of lumber required. So when Cleereman Industries of Newald, Wisconsin, introduced the first modular double cut Lumber Pro ST 54 the die was cast. But there was one thing missing, size of band to maximize capacity. Craig’s experience with smaller band systems made him skeptical of smaller sized band saws, so after several discussions with Fran Cleereman and Rod Chitko both companies agreed to create the largest Lumber Pro mill ever built with a LP-42 lineal positioning carriage and 62” double cut McDonough head. In addition to the larger carriage and headrig, the Lumber Pro at Copiah is also capable of sawing up to thirty foot timbers, offering Copiah Lumber another avenue of maximizing profit with the added capability of sawing the very longest matt and crane pad timbers of any high production mill in the southeast.

The Cleereman Lumber Pro design is unique in many ways, from the speed and efficiency of its thin kerf double cut moving head, to drastically reduced electric requirements that have proven to cut long-term overhead costs. The compact modular design coupled with the Lumber Pro’s moving saw head reduce the footprint required and installation time. This deeply reduces installation expense by delivering a truly modular machine that installs in just a few days, not weeks or months. In Copiah’s case their maintenance team worked with the Cleereman staff to handle the installation. Every Lumber Pro comes complete with an infeed log deck built to the customers required length, smooth log charging system that greatly reduces carriage wear by gently placing logs with a minimum of inertia, integrated off-bearer belt, dust and scrap conveyor, multiple setworks choices that includes several optimization selections, set shaft or LP carriage and a comfortable and spacious sawyers control cab that allows for a clear uncluttered view of the log during the entire sawing process.

Mill manager, Pee Wee Smith, described the Lumber Pro as a “log eating machine” that line for line was consistently producing the same, if not more, lines per day than the original conventional Cleereman running a shotgun feed and 7’ band headrig. Pee Wee attributed the impressive production rate to the Lumber Pro’s double cut design that eliminates back gigging to load logs onto the carriage, turn the log and setting for the next cut, all of which can be accomplished from either end with the Lumber Pro. In addition to the double cut headrig’s efficiency, production has also been enhanced by well-designed downstream material handling and nearly zero downtime.

Within two weeks head sawfiler, Lee Stockton had the double cut saws under control and operating at peak performance. Lee stated that it really isn’t any more difficult, as long as both sides are set to cut straight lines there’s not a problem. Craig and Pee Wee Smith agreed that the combination of properly prepared saws and a mill that came aligned and ready to saw put the ST 62 Lumber Pro in full production immediately. Transitioning periods for the sawyer proved just as smooth as the install, within days Copiah Lumber had trained a resaw operator to assume sawyer duties on the Lumber Pro and within just a few weeks he was up to 85-90 percent of capacity.

As with any major mill innovation or expansion there really is only one question that matters, would you do it again? Co-owner Craig Pyron firmly stated, “Absolutely, absolutely…over the long-haul with the cost of logs and cost of production we’re going to be way ahead, way ahead.”

For more information about this article please contact: Fran Cleereman Website 715-674-2700

Head Sawfiler, Lee Stockton, quickly mastered the transition from single to double cut band headsaws without any interruption in quality or production.

Mill manager, Pee Wee Smith, has been with Copiah Lumber for over twenty years and said without question the Lumber Pro was the smoothest installation of any and all mill improvements in that time.

The Lumber Pro has no trouble keeping the West Plains 660 Run-Around Resaw System "in the wood". Plus, once the bands have been ground down too much they will have the teeth ground off once side and

Phone: 715-674-2700

Cleereman Industries

Cleereman Sales, Inc. has been building the highest quality sawmill machinery for more than 66 years. We specialize in carriages - Linear Positioning, Set Shaft & Tilt carriages. At Cleereman, we have a carriage to fit nearly every size sawmill operation.
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