Controlling Moisture Content in Wood Industries - Best Practices

Controlling Moisture Content in Wood Industries - Best Practices

Wood remains the preferred choice for furniture, construction, flooring, fuel,  shipbuilding, and tools, as it is a highly versatile material. The durability of wood is usually a function of water content; and wood product manufacturers are always working on enhancing the durability and quality of their products, relying heavily on the ability to control and monitor moisture and other key constituents.

Reliable and repeatable technology that provides proven results year after year is required to ensure the durability, quality, and consistency of wood products. Process Sensors Corporation® (PSC) has supplied reliable and accurate near infrared (NIR) transmitters to wood product manufacturers, enabling better quality control and cost savings, for more than two decades.

NIR instrumentation from Process Sensors supplies repeatable and robust measurements of wax, resins, moisture and other parameters with no requirement for routine calibration or maintenance.

Custom-designed enclosures enable PSC transmitters to be installed in extremely harsh environments throughout multiple wood processes. Applications include production of orientated strand board (OSB), medium density fiberboard (MDF), particleboard and wood pellets.

Moisture content affects the durability, strength, and appearance of the final product; whilst the control of moisture throughout the manufacturing process streamlines production, improves product quality and consistency, and reduces waste, therefore saving time and money for the utmost efficiency in your plant.

Moisture Measurements in Action

The technology developed by Process Sensors produces moisture measurements instantly, either at line with a bench instrument or online over a conveyor or forming line.  

Measurements can be taken in a feed-forward fashion on the incoming green wood to set drying settings, and /or after the dryer to give input for feedback process control. For direct integration into the plant PLC, online instruments have full bus interface options including EthernetIP, ProfiNet, Modbus and other protocols.

A standard installation is made up of a sensor placed over a production line or conveyor belt with a distance between the sensor and product of between 8 – 18 inches (200 – 450 mm). In a standard installation, typical accuracies are +/- 0.1% moisture  and for resin +/- 0.2%.

For instance, before entry into the dryer, monitoring the moisture content of the green wood, or the wood that comes from recently felled trees, can greatly enhance the efficiency of medium density fiberboard (MDF), oriented strand board (OSB), and particleboard production processes in terms of higher production capacity, lower energy costs, less scrap and more consistent product.

The raw material is typically a blend of virgin wood and recycled material in particleboard production. Again, in order to optimize dryer efficiency, it is crucial to know the moisture content of the mix before entry to the dryer.

At-Line or On-Line

A QuikCheck benchtop near infrared analyzer from Process Sensors can be utilized to quantify moisture content of virgin green wood chips in 10 seconds for at-line sampling or validation.

For  on-line measurements, an MCT460-WP transmitter is usually mounted on the infeed conveyor prior to dryers, at a location shortly after the chipped wood has been turned over (for instance, after the product has transferred from one belt to another) which helps to ensure that the moisture measurement is representative of the bulk.

The MCT460-WP sends real-time moisture measurements to the control room, which enables the user to monitor the moisture content in real time,  alter dryer or conveyor settings, and log historical production data.

Process Sensors has global sales and support offices to help on projects from initial scope and estimation of potential ROI to installation and integration of a system with responsive support after the sale.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Process Sensors Corporation.

For more information on this source, please visit Process Sensors Corporation.

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