I am currently taking part in the North Idaho Sustainable Forestry Tour. Check out their Facebook page by clicking here. As we toured the Chilco Lumber Mill and the Inland Empire Paper Mill today I was struck by the amount of technology used now in these industries. At both mills most of what we saw was automated machines running things with just a few workers monitoring the computers. In both cases less than 15 people were running the entire facility.
In the image below the people you see in the lower left hand corner are those of us on the tour. In this particular area of the mill there were only two to three workers running the entire cutting portion of the mill. There was enough lumber cut at this location to frame 4 to 5 houses an hour. The technology employed here not only cut the logs but also computed the best way to cut each individual log. Every log run through this portion of the mill was scanned by computers at least three times to ensure the best cut and optimal amount of lumber generated. This was all done with three workers. Every portion of the log is used to generate their lumber or sold to other companies to create other products. The efficiency was extremely efficient and very impressive. This has been a very enlightening tour so far and am interested to see the actual logging tomorrow.