Sawmill operator’s eyesight accuracy challenged by laser – productivity up by 10 per cent

Updated: May 7, 2021

Tamminiemen Saha & Höylä is a sawmill from Vilppula that has been in operation for over a century. Led by Marko Tamminiemi, a fourth-generation entrepreneur, the company produces sawn, planed, and pressure-treated timber for builders and lodge owners in the area.

Marko Tamminiemi, Tamminiemen Saha & Höylä is a sawmill from Vilppula
Marko Tamminiemi has calculated that 4 lasers will pay for themselves in about a year of use.

When cutting timber, it is imperative to align the cut line perfectly parallel to the heartwood, leaving its line in the middle of the board. This ensures quality timber with balanced tension that stays straight during drying. Traditionally, the sawmill operator checks the cutting line by eye.

“Even though I have 30 years of experience eyeballing my cutting lines, errors happened every day for about five per cent of timber. The defects caused either loss or a second-rate product, which is less valuable than first-rate timber. These mistakes were straight out of my own pocket”, recalls Tamminiemi.

Four lasers cover their cost in a year

To improve the process, Tamminiemi contacted Keypoint, who had been recommended to him by the manufacturer of his sawing equipment. Co-operation with the laser technology company has been going strong since 2015.

“I last bought a laser in the spring of 2020, just in case I need to send one of my old ones in for service. This way, I can keep the machines running without returning to my old methods of measuring cuts.”

Tamminiemi currently uses four lasers, and he has calculated that these lasers will pay for themselves in about a year of use.

“The average lifespan of a laser is about five years, so if you go from there, having four lasers costs about 300 euros per year. That is slightly over one euro per day, but my daily profits have multiplied because of the lasers”, Tamminiemi ponders.

Productivity up 5–10 per cent

Investing in lasers has proven worthwhile, since the sawmill’s productiveness has gone up about ten per cent. The reason for this is easier alignment of the cutting line parallel to the heartwood. Positioning is twice as fast with lasers compared to doing it by eye. Lasers can also be used for cutting the sides of lumber completely straight, thus minimising wasted material.

“With no cutting mistakes, we can utilise our material precisely. The efficiency of wood is 100%, which allows me to sell all our cuts as first-rate timber.

The best part about this is a small investment to boost productivity has also increased my pay: before adding lasers, sawing accounted for 15–20 per cent of the sale price; now I get to keep 20–25 per cent”, Tamminiemi states contentedly.