Niagara selects only the best radiata pine trees from Southland and neighbouring Otago. While we own some of our plantations, the company also purchases logs from privately-owned blocks, and through a tender system.
From the very start of the sawmilling process, cutting edge technology scans each log for maximum sawn timber recovery. This precision scanning ensures accuracy, which is vital as each piece continues its journey throughout the sawmill.
Niagara’s horizontal saw takes care of the next stage of production, followed by a six-saw automated edger system, which scans every piece to ensure optimum width recovery is achieved. Niagara knows our customers demand accuracy from our products, which is why we recently installed an inline trimmer to make sure each and every piece leaving the sawmill is end docked to ensure an accurate length, as well as scanned for width and thickness.
After the trimmer, each board is separated, based on size and grade, into Niagara’s binsorter, which allocates just the right amount of pieces per bin to ensure the finished packs are the perfect size for effective and consistent kiln drying.
Once each bin is full an automatic stacker stacks the packs, precisely placing fillets on every layer to ensure each pack is optimised for the important kiln-drying process that follows.
Niagara’s kiln complex includes seven medium temperature kilns, which operate around the clock, seven days a week. With a drying capacity of over 120,000m3 per annum, Niagara can ensure all its customers’ requirements are fulfilled on time and to the highest quality.
By using the most modern computer-based kiln drying technology Niagara ensures each and every piece is individually cared for and monitored throughout the drying process.
Niagara’s kiln staff are trained in the best drying practices and each step is precisely carried out. Careful building of each kiln charge allows optimum air flow right throughout.
A real time system shows the exact stage of each charge and how it is progressing, allowing operators to make decisions based on each kiln individually, at any time of the drying process.
Because Niagara’s complex is manned around the clock each charge is left in the kilns for the precise amount of time. Hot checks are completed on each charge before releasing timber to the next production stage.
Niagara’s responsibility for quality doesn’t stop after the drying process, it continues into the sling sorter/quality control department, where each and every board is tested for moisture along the entire length.
Niagara’s sling sorter has the capacity to process over 600m3 of kiln dried sawn timber per shift, in order to meet customer demand in the most efficient way and ensure accurate scheduling and on-time delivery. Each pack from the kilns is de-filleted and run across an inline moisture meter to check for any defects in drying before it reaches the grading station. Each piece is then individually graded depending on customer requirements and automatically allocated to one of 30 slings along the line. Each sling is automatically tallied for length and the number of pieces to ensure the customer gets the right volume for every pack ordered.
Packs are then automatically stacked and either wrapped for the export market or allocated to Niagara’s remanufacturing plant for further processing.
The Niagara remanufacturing plant uses FSC certified radiata pine sourced from its sawmill, to produce finger jointed blanks. These are further processed into engineered timber products of superior quality and appearance for local and overseas customers.
Rough sawn kiln dried timber coming into the remanufacturing plant is machined through a Stetson-Ross planer to give a smooth uniform finish ready for defecting and finger jointing. The timber is constantly checked to ensure only products meeting strict quality specifications are used.
An inline moisture meter is one of these quality checks to ensure timber outside the required moisture range is identified and removed before further processing occurs.
The timber is then scanned, using modern technology, through a Woodeye at up to 220 metres per minute. The Woodeye takes a snapshot of the entire length of each board, identifying the different grades of timber contained within the piece and selecting only the best material for finger jointing.
This information is then communicated to two Dimpter Opticut 450 saws, which cut every piece of timber in the right places to yield finger jointing blocks in grades to meet our customers' needs. Blocks range from 180mm to 500mm in length.
The company has both horizontal and vertical finger jointers, giving the flexibility to offer either a face-to-face or edge-to-edge joint in lengths ranging from 1.8m to 7.2m. Depending on customer requirements, Niagara has a choice of adhesives to use in the jointing process, all of which are approved under international standards.
Throughout the manufacturing process there are documented quality assurance systems to guarantee customers only receive product that meet their specifications. Niagara’s finger jointing operation is certified and independently audited to AS/NZS 1491 and AS 5068, and this is just another way Niagara guarantees our customers’ expectations will always be met.
After finger jointing, all the finger jointed blanks are dispatched to the the Ashburton finishing and distribution operation.
Like the operations in Invercargill, Ashburton uses the latest equipment and best industry practices to deliver what their customers want. Niagara has two moulders, a Weinig and an SCM, which produce a wide range of both standard and custom profiles, some of which have also been laminated using static or rotary laminating presses.
The range of products produced at Niagara Ashburton is large and varied and includes door jambs, mouldings, laminated posts, window reveals (liners), and beams, fascia, trim boards and edge-glued wide boards.
Niagara’s Envira Timber Cladding brand offers a complete timber weatherboard system, including box corners, scribers, sills and facing boards, fully supported with technical installation drawings and instructions.
The Ashburton site has a timber preservation process that provides added durability to products intended for use in any application, especially where they are exposed to the elements.
Before leaving the factory, products are finished with a coating of a superior quality primer ready for installation. Products destined for export markets are shipped through the two local ports of Timaru and Lyttelton. Products for local consumption are distributed to builders through a network of local and national timber merchants.