National Hardwood Magazine


April 2014 Feature Story


Daniel Couturier, General Manager Hardwood and Cedar Division, J.D. Irving Ltd., New Brunswick, Canada
J.D. Irving Limited’s Hardwood Division Upgrades Veneer Sawmill, Installs TrimExpert™

By Terry Miller

Saint John, NB—The Hardwood Division of J.D. Irving Limited (JDI) recently upgraded its veneer sawmill in Northern New Brunswick. The upgrade involved the installation of a new piece of equipment with the most up-to-date technology. TrimExpert™, manufactured by Comact of Saint-Georges, Quebec, consists of a 3-D vision system for grading and trimming the lumber based on the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) grading specification.  It also provides flexibility to introduce “in-house” grades by providing a combination of geometric and color specification for every board sawn, delivering the optimum solution for every piece of lumber for the customer.

JDI’s Hardwood Division General Manager, Daniel Couturier, said the company obtained 90 percent efficiency during the first week of operation, an exceptional percentage for a new start up.

“Our sawmill is now achieving better accuracy and consistency for every board sawn. The technology eliminates visual human grading and meets or exceeds today’s customers grade/color requirement,” Couturier said.

“This equipment takes the monetary value of each board and maximizes the value of it,” Mill Manager Dave Steeves explained. “It makes millions of decisions at once. In between six to eight seconds it decides what to do with a board. It will always upgrade the board and it works with the prices that we input through the computers.”

TrimExpert™, manufactured by Comact of Saint-Georges, Quebec, consists of a 3-D vision system for grading and trimming the lumber based on the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) grading specification.
Besides grading, the TrimExpert also tells the system where to trim the board on each end. “It’s a state-of-the-art operation,” Couturier added. “It reads knots and wanes; it’s a high-tech system.”

Quality Control Manager Francis Arsenault continues to work with Comact technicians to constantly upgrade the performance.

“I believe attaining maximum efficiency is an ongoing process, the different demands from our customers never stop evolving, and with the help of equipment like the TrimExpert, it makes it possible for us to not only compete in the market today, but also stay ahead of the game,” Arsenault said.

“We are focused on understanding our customers’ needs and how we can best serve them,” said Dennis Cuffley, Sales & Marketing Manager at JDI Hardwood Division.

“We encourage all customers to come and visit our facilities.  We’ll show them how we operate and the way we handle our lumber. Our customers can count on us to be a consistent, reliable supplier of high quality products. We want our customers to know that we are focused on delivering a top quality product that is produced at a good price from forests that are cared for to the highest scientific standard,” Cuffley concluded.

(Left to Right): Marcel Bernier, maintenance supervisor; (center) Dave Steeves, mill manager; and Stephane Hache, electrical supervisor
Founded in 1882, J.D. Irving Limited has operations in Canada and the United States. The company owns and manages roughly six million acres of timberlands. All of its managed forests are certified under the Forest Stewardship Council (USA) and Sustainable Forestry Initiative (USA and Canada).

The company is comprised of 15,000 dedicated employees, with business units in forestry and forest products, transportation, shipbuilding and industrial marine, retail, industrial equipment, construction services and building materials and consumer products.

According to Steeves, JDI veneer sawmill has the capacity to produce over 40 million board feet annually. “We have two saw lines and two Cleereman carriages,” he explained. “One carriage line is for small logs and feeds a bull edger and after that it feeds an optimized edger. The carriages are equipped with scanners from Lewis Controls. The other line is used for the bigger logs, which feed a resaw to maximize our great quality. That resaw either feeds the bull edger or optimized edger. We have four machines that feed the optimized edger and sorter, drop sorter with 65 bins to sort the wood and we do all types of special sorts for customers based on colors and grades.”

J.D. Irving’s primary product supplies furniture, high end moulding, flooring and cabinet manufacturers. “We also serve the industrial market on a smaller scale with pallets and railroad ties,” Steeves noted.

Donald Cyr, grader, Francis Arsenault, quality control, and Dave Steeves, sawmill manager
Offering 4/4 through 8/4 thicknesses in all three species Hard and Soft Maple, and Yellow Birch, another of the company’s facilities in Clair, New Brunswick, serves as a drying location and value-added center for Hardwood lumber used to manufacture components, mouldings, cabinets and flooring.

“We also offer lumber to retail stores that is dressed on four sides and high grade,” Couturier added. “We are a true distributor in that we feed big box retailers through distribution.”

JDI Hardwood Division serves several niche markets and Couturier said the ultimate goal is to help each customer find solutions. “If we have to do special things on the grading or special sorting—whatever the customer needs or asks for is what we do. We put great effort on our customers’ needs so we make sure we sit down and find solutions for them,” Couturier said.

J.D. Irving Limited is a member of the National Hardwood Lumber Association, Wood Component Manufacturers Association and the Canadian Hardwood Bureau. For more information visit

Daniel Dumont, grader, and Francis Arsenault, quality control


Home | Contact Us | Publications | Company Search | Advertising

© Copyright Miller Wood Trade Publications
No part may be reproduced without special permission

Site Designed and Managed by Pinpoint Web