There’s been plenty going on behind-the-scenes across the business – from new appointments to investing in our facilities, including a £6 million investment in the UK’s most advanced sawmill planing line which allows us to eliminate defects in lengths of timber due to unique scanning technology. You may have seen that production began on the facility earlier this year, with the sawmill planing line now fully operational and processing timber at up to 200 metres per minute. 

At the heart of our new sawmill planing line is operations director Phil Yell, who worked closely with System Hall AB to agree its design and layout. Here, we catch up with Phil to find out more about the new sawmill planing line, and what the rest of the year has in store for our operations team. 

Do you have any updates on the sawmill planing line?

The sawmill planing line is fully operational, and as well as producing large amounts of timber it is helping us to identify and trim out defects such as splits and knots, which not only saves time for our customers, as well as reducing waste. 

We continue to see improvements in the output from the new line as we become better acquainted with it. As the UK’s largest sawmill planing line, it’s very complex – and its introduction has coincided with record customer requirements alongside our team completing commissioning and learning how to run the line effectively, which has of course meant that we’ve experienced some challenges along the way. 

Our shift production team colleagues have put a huge effort into ensuring that all of the demands on the line, in terms of quality and output, are achieved. The teams running the line have shown a lot of pride in working with such an impressive piece of equipment, and the select few who have been able to see the facility have commented on its grand scale.

How has the department adapted to increasing demands for timber products?

As well as the new sawmill planing line allowing us to be more efficient and accurate in timber production, we have also recently introduced night shift loading. This has allowed us to present a flow of products into our distribution network, which has resulted in a more effective flow of outbound freight. This in turn has helped us to reduce the activity levels at any one time, leading to higher loading efficiencies. 

As one of a number of organisational changes across the business, night shift loading has helped us to move up several gears in achieving the service and volume level targets we set ourselves for this year. And not only are these changes helping us now, but they also allow for potential further improvements as we continue to expand. 

What else is new in the operations department?

Arbor Forest Products has invested in a new warehouse and yard storage facility, both of which are moving at pace now despite some setbacks earlier in the year due to the extremely wet weather we experienced. The contractors have worked very hard to catch up, and we’re expecting to have full use of the site very soon.

We’ve also just taken delivery of five new CombiLift sideloaders as well as a pedestrian lift truck in mouldings. Our HGV fleet has also recently been expanded with the addition of four new tractor units.

Are there any other plans for the operations department coming up in 2021?

There are a number of new and exciting upgrades and additions to the site planned for later this year and next. 

We’re always looking for ways to improve our facilities, and work is now also underway to update Arbor Forest Products’ garage – watch this space! 

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