Vecoplan’s waste wood processing is “invaluable”

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With a new sawmill, Tschopp is tripling its wood processing in the medium term. Vecoplan supplied the perfect technology to prepare the chips for disposal.
Tschopp manufacturers shuttering panels, and uses its wood residues for pellet production – although its plant capacities had long reached their limit.
Its previous sawmill, which was designed to process 30,000 cubic metres per year, had been in operation since 1999.
In recent years it had been processing 115,000 cubic metres, which led to the 2018 decision to invest in a new sawmill – which entered operation last May.
Tschopp said the new facility would enable its wood processing to triple in the medium term. Vecoplan supplied Tschopp with the perfect technology for this task.
Capacity limit significantly expanded
Technicians from suppliers and partner companies spent weeks commissioning the installed equipment in the 123-metre-long and 20-metre-high new building, said Tschopp. 

“Our new sawmill is designed to process 350,000 cubic metres of wood per year. That’s also enough space to produce new wood-based materials,” said Birrer. This was not previously possible due to the lack of capacity and technology.
Nothing is unused
The production of shuttering panels generates a lot of wood residues such as chips, sawdust, offcuts and bark – and to ensure that nothing is wasted, Tschopp built its own pellet production facility in 2005. The company has continuously expanded this, and it produces up to 120,000 metric tons of pellets each year.
As of 2014, the site has had its own wood-fired power plant, with Birrer explaining that it provides the entire heat for drying the sawn timber and pellets. “We use the residual heat to produce environmentally friendly electricity.”
The facility generates around 9.4 million kilowatts per year, and consequently, Tschopp utilises 100% of the raw material at the site. More wood is being processed in the new sawmill, which necessitates more energy for drying it; but there is enough space on the site for another power plant.
Vecoplan technology
Tschopp went on to say it relies on Vecoplan to process the waste wood for pellet production and green electricity. Headquartered in Bad Marienberg, Gemany, Vecoplan develops plants that shred, convey, separate, and store wood, biomass, plastics, paper and household & commercial waste.
“We advise our customers, plan the technology and find the right solution together,” explained Michael Müller, project manager for the Swiss timber company. “Our tasks naturally include holistic project management as well as installation, commissioning and comprehensive services.”
Tschopp has been working with equipment from the Westerwald company for more than three decades. Birrer said: “Vecoplan has a good name in the market, and the service is always perfect, so it was clear to us that we’d continue the good cooperation.”
Müller and his team assisted the Swiss company with the planning and were able to construct the new facility on its greenfield site.
Müller explained that the sawing lines are located on a higher floor, and that the waste wood falls through the floor onto the conveyor belts. In this way, the sawdust is combined on several conveyors, and a star screen separates excess lengths.
Wood sections (or head discs) also fall onto a conveyor belt and are fed into a VHZ 1600 series shredder, a robust single-shaft shredder with a modular design, which makes it extremely versatile. 

The responsible application engineering department can adapt components such as rotors, cutting crowns, counter knives, screens and drives to match each customer task. The pieces that are pre-shredded in this way are fed horizontally to the VTH 650 series drum chipper via a vibratory conveyor.
“This system achieves enormous throughput rates,” said Müller. Thanks to the shredding method, the waste wood pieces are hacked to a chipping length of about 15 millimetres. The material then passes through another star screen, which separates excess lengths. It can now be fed directly to the drying process in the pellet mill.
Safe and quiet transport
The material is then placed on a steep conveyor, which transports it to a pipe belt conveyor of the VRF series. With a length of 140 metres, the pipe belt conveyor transports the bulk material to the raw material halls of the pellet plant, which are only a few metres away. The tubular and all-around closed design of this Vecobelt completely encloses the bulk material, protecting it from the effects of wind. The conveyor belt in this series does not run on rollers like conventional conveyors.
Instead, the belt is supported by an air cushion, which minimises friction loss during operation. It also runs quietly. The system conveys the material at a maximum of 2.5 metres per second.
“Thanks to the pipe belt conveyor, Tschopp doesn’t need wheel loaders or trucks to load the processed material, nor is intermediate transport necessary,” added Müller. “This saves time, space and energy.” Tschopp also takes back its customers’ old shuttering panels, which are shredded and fed into the wood-fired power plant.
Mastering the challenges
“The coronavirus crisis naturally presented us with repeated challenges during the construction phase,” continued Birrer, “because the pandemic really messed up the supply chains.”
The sawmill manager had to stay in close contact with the construction and partner companies to ensure that everything ran smoothly during the pandemic. “We strongly encouraged them to order the materials and the components they needed early – and the effort paid off because we never had to wait long for anything.” The supply chains remained stable over the entire duration of the project. Added to this were market changes such as rising steel prices.
Birrer went on to say that: “On the one hand, Vecoplan provided us with proven technology that delivers what it promises, and on the other, the processing was constructive throughout. Michael Müller and his team contributed ideas and suggestions, and even when we were almost finished with the planning, they were always ready for talks to discuss a solution, even a second, third and fourth time. So in the end, we had our perfect preparation.”


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