Engineered wood products for structural use must meet minimum strength and stiffness criteria. This represents a major challenge for the industry as the mechanical properties of the wood resource are inherently variable. We report on a case study that was conducted in a laminated veneer lumber (LVL) mill in order to test the potential of an acoustic sensor to predict structural properties of the wood resource prior to processing. A population of 266 recently harvested aspen logs were segregated into three sub-populations based on measurements of longitudinal acoustic speed in wood using a hand tool equipped with a resonance-based acoustic sensor. Each of the three sub-populations were peeled into veneer sheets and graded for stiffness with an ultrasonic device. The average ultrasonic propagation time (UPT) of each subpopulation was 418, 440 and 453 microseconds for the green, blue, and red populations, respectively. This resulted in contrasting proportions of structural veneer grades, indicating that the efficiency of the forest value chain could be improved using acoustic sensors. A linear regression analysis also showed that the dynamic modulus of elasticity (MOE) of LVL was strongly related to static MOE (R(2) = 0.83), which suggests that acoustic tools may be used for quality control during the production process.
Keywords: acoustic sensors; forestry wood chain; laminated veneer lumber.