Parkend has long been the kilning centre for International Timber, drawing on 26 years of experience. With eight kilns already in place, a further three have been added at a cost of £200,000 which will boost the company’s kilning capacity by more than 60%. This equates to an extra 2,500m3 of hardwood per year but the company also plans to expand further into softwood kilning.

International Timber is ideally placed to tap into the opportunities opened up by the new International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) 15. Allocating only one of the new chambers to softwood heat treatment for example, would yield 20,000m3 of softwood per year due to the treatment cycles being much faster. In short, the new investment significantly increases the company’s flexibility of product mix and also its ability to respond to changing market demand.

Steve Howard, regional director responsible for Parkend, said: “We are bucking the trend in the UK with this investment programme as many companies have spent the last few years reducing kilning capacity. Kilning is central to our operations as it gives us a greater level of control over the condition of wood. This is particularly important as we are producing more and more machined products. Better quality of kilned products gives us an overall better yield and therefore greater efficiencies.”

The kilns were built by Kiln Services Ltd to International Timber’s specification. The investment comprises a boiler plant and three direct fork lift loading kilns. Each has a capacity to hold approximately 70m3 of timber. The control systems supplied with the kilns provide the latest in timber drying technology. The MP4032 microprocessor operated through Windows allows the operator to input, display and store data from one central control. Drying processes for over 250 species of wood are included in the software but, as well as these standard programs, the system allows the operator to modify or design bespoke programmes. Each program can have an unlimited number of drying steps allowing for changes to temperature, equilibrium moisture content (EMC) and air velocity. A modem link enables the kilns to be monitored remotely via a telephone line. The accurate control of the EMC is of critical importance, particularly when drying high value hardwoods.

High pressure humidification

International Timber’s kilns are equipped with a high pressure humidification system in which water is supplied to the spray heads at a pressure of 1400lb/inch2 (or 95 bar). This produces minute droplets – around 30 microns in size – which evaporate immediately. The spray resembles a fine mist which penetrates all parts of the timber stack. This process allows the EMC to be achieved quickly, resulting in faster and more efficient drying times as well as improved product quality.

Kiln Services managing director John Commons, said: “To my knowledge, no other facility of this size in the UK has the level of equipment that International Timber has in its new plant.”

The hi-tech nature of the kilns also blends with environmental considerations. They are operated by energy efficient motors and the exterior is clad in wood to be sympathetic with their beautiful surroundings in the Forest of Dean. The project was completed in three months with the new kilns were due to be commissioned this week.