2023 Innovation of the Year Entries

Innovation of the Year Entry A

Con-Vey Connect

Entered By: Con-Vey

Con-Vey ConnectDate of First Use: March 2023
Benefit 1: Real-time data and trend analysis -- Increased visibility in the plant operations: compare performances and identify deficiencies.
Benefit 2: Fully automated AI -- Does not require any manual input or manipulation of data.

1. In a recent commissioning, Con-Vey Connect facilitated a 400% increase in daily production within three weeks, dispelling equipment-related productivity concerns by providing accurate data and enabling programmers to focus their efforts on resolving issues that would bring the line up to optimal operational efficiency in the shortest amount of time.

2. A newly commissioned equipment was causing downtime and throughput problems for a customer. Upon reviewing the data in Con-Vey Connect, we identified and resolved a combination of mechanical, electrical, and PLC program issues. Immediate improvements were observed, and for the next few months, post-repair, there was an average throughput improvement of 6 panels per minute (+38%) and a downtime reduction of 8 hours per day (-114%).

Con-Vey Connect is a customizable data collection and analytics platform that offers enhanced visibility into plant operations (Industry 4.0). By interfacing with any PLC brand, it monitors tag values, performs calculations, and integrates with databases for long-term trending and reporting. This highly flexible solution empowers corporate teams and plant management through real-time data access, 24/7 performance monitoring and comparisons, and identifying operational deficiencies.

Innovation of the Year Entry B

SmartPress Autonomous Manewfacturing™ Module

Entered By: SMARTECH Manewfacturing™ Technologies

SmartPressDate of First Use: SUMMER 2021

Benefit 1: Increased panel throughput, production stability and raw material efficiency while maintaining product quality.

Benefit 2: Support operator training and decision-making (taking the pressure off and freeing up their time to focus on other critical processes).

An OSB mill observed around 10% increase in productivity.

SmartPress AI-based Software is a first-of-its-kind tool that can drive the wood panel press autonomously in real-time while optimizing three critical production parameters: cost, productivity, and quality. It aggregates machine, line and operator data, and pushes setpoints directly to the press. It can work in two modes: decision support and autonomous.

Innovation of the Year Entry C

Part X PW “next generation” wet electrostatic precipitator (WESP) design 

Entered By: Dürr Systems, Inc.

Durr Part X PWDate of First Use: November 2022

Benefit 1: High collection efficiency: The next generation WESP design places emphasis on high efficiency particulate removal through innovative emitting electrode, collection tube, and gas flow distribution system designs. These enhancements support higher operating voltages requiring less surface collecting area as well as uniform gas flow distribution for optimized collection efficiency.

Benefit 2: Low maintenance: The next generation WESP design also features a patent-pending high-intensity offline automatic cleaning system, which significantly reduces maintenance requirements, eliminates water carryover during flushing, and provides better operational performance during the flushing cycle.

The Part.X PW WESP can remove up to 98% of particulate matter in a single stage, and depending on gas stream characteristics, up to 99.9% removal is possible with alternative configurations.

Dürr's "next generation" wet electrostatic precipitator (WESP) is an advanced air pollution control system used to effectively clean industrial gases of fine particulate matter, acid mists, and aerosols. Featuring reduced maintenance, improved efficiency, and standardized modular design, it ensures compliance with environmental regulations while offering quick installation and reliable operation.

Innovation of the Year Entry D

Deep Learning AI Veneer Scanning Technology

Entered By:USNR

USNR Deep LearningDate of First Use: October 2022

Benefit 1: Greatly improved defect recognition, defect sizing, and grading accuracy

Benefit 2: Less tuning required to achieve desired grade outcome

Improved overall grade accuracy on Poplar from high-80% to 97%, Douglas Fir as high as 98%.

USNR has successfully applied Deep Learning AI, developed through years of research in solid wood applications, to veneer scanning systems.  Adding Deep Learning AI to USNR’s Ventek NV4g and GS2000 scanners has resulted in significant improvements to defect recognition and classification.  To date a number of USNR/Ventek customers have upgraded their systems to take full advantage of Deep Learning AI and the results have been nothing short of phenomenal.

Innovation of the Year Entry E

Disc Strander Follower Plate Replaceable Leading Edge with Inserts

Entered By: Kadant Carmanah

Kadant Disc StranderDate of First Use: April 20, 2021

Benefit 1: Improved Safety - Changing the Disc Follower Plate (DFP) required an entire mill maintance day, minimum 3 people and a crane. The Replaceable Inserts allow changing the worn part of the DFP by 1 person in less than an hour.

Benefit 2: Reduced customer costs. The DFP required replacement approximately every 24 months due to localized wear on the leading edge. With the Replaceable Inserts DFP, the mill can now replace the part of the DFP which experiences localized wear, extending the life of the DFP.

85% of Disc strander operators have recognized the benefits and converted to the new DFP

The Disc Follower Plate (DFP) is an integral component to allow safe operation of the SmartDISC Strander. The key function of the DFP is to ensure the logs remain in a fixed location after being cut.  

The new DFP design with replaceable inserts allows customers to replace the high wear zone area safer and in less time.

Innovation of the Year Entry F

Panel Repair Station R5

Entered By: Raute

Raute Panel Repair Station R5Date of First Use: February 2022

Benefit 1: Reduced Manpower: Only one operator required for up to two stations

Benefit 2: Space: Fits into the same space as a traditional manual repair cell

Uses 20% less repairing materials than traditional repairing methods

The Patented Raute Panel Repair Station R5 allows you to easily increase panel repairing capacity due to its design minimizing floor space and not requiring foundation work. Our cutting-edge analyzer technology automates and optimizes the repair process increasing accuracy while reducing labour and repair material usage. The Raute Panel Repair Station R5 brings flexibility, with the capacity to repair trimmed and un-trimmed panels, and the ability to work with repair materials of your choice.

Innovation of the Year Entry G

Engineered Wax Emulsion for Wood Composites

Entered By: The Willamette Valley Company

WVC Engineered Wax EmulsionDate of First Use: 2/24/2022 (Field Use); 3/3/2023 (Commercialized)

Benefit 1: pMDI reduction while maintaining panel properties; pMDI volatility suppression

Benefit 2: Wax volatility suppression; thereby reducing condensible wax deposits around hot press and in ventilation - Reduced Fire hazards.

≥10% reduction in pMDI while maintaining panel performance; About 50 °F reduction in wax volatility

The WVCO Engineered Wax Emulsion enhances two key industry interests: Safety and Cost. The Engineered Wax combines bio-polymer and wax chemistries in a patented process to achieve novel wax properties. This emulsion is designed to be inline mixed, and co-applied with, pMDI during wood composite production, allowing significant pMDI reduction (>10%). Furthermore, wax volatility is suppressed (i.e., flash point increased ~50°F), thereby reducing wax deposition outside press, reducing fire hazards.

Innovation of the Year Entry H

Intelligent Extinguishing Module (IEM)

Entered By: Fagus GreCon Inc.

FagusGrecon IEMDate of First Use: May 2023 in USA, Late 2022 in Europe

Benefit 1: Detects clogging of the nozzles and measures the flow pressure and signals wear of nozzles and valves at an early stage. Clogged nozzles or insufficient flow pressure are detected and reported directly so that targeted and efficient maintenance can be carried out.

Benefit 2: When temperatures approach freezing point, the extinguishing system activates its integrated heating, thereby ensuring the smooth operation of the system even in winter.

Proactive notification of the upcoming replacement of wear parts enables the plant operator to plan maintenance in an organised manner. The advantage: greater productivity through improved plant availability thanks to sustainable maintenance processes based on objective wear data, time and cost savings due to systematically plannable maintenance interventions and avoiding unnecessary maintenance.

The innovative GreCon Intelligent Extinguishing Module (IEM), raises the level of reliability of Fagus-GreCon's existing spark extinguishing systems.

This system brings with it a number of advantages:

  • High-precision monitoring throughout the extinguishing process
  • Identification of blockages
    - Measurement of flow pressure
  • Early detection of wear on nozzles and valves
  • Automatic leak detection and notification