The International market of US hardwood products consist of a significantly diverse mix of customers from different regions around the world; where Canada, Mexico, Asia and Western Europe have played a central role in developing the US Hardwood Industry.
According to the U.S. Hardwood Export Statistics published by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States has been the World’s leading exporter of hardwood lumbers and veneers in the last 2 years, accounting for a total market share of 17% and 14% respectively during 2010. The country also played a key role in hardwood log exports between 2009 and 2010, holding a total market segment share of 22% and 20% respectively, surpassed only by Malaysia by approximately 1 percentage point.
The American Hardwood Export Council also indicated (AHEC, 2011) that China, Germany and Italy led the World’s wood furniture exports between 2008 and 2010, holding a 46% of total market, while United States only reported sales equivalent to a 2% of worldwide Exports throughout this time frame (9th place furniture exports).
During the last 6 years, the US exports of hardwood products have characterized by a predominance of primary/low value added goods such as logs and lumbers, over other more complex and higher value added products such as furniture, molding, floors, among others. In view of previous research, the exports of hardwood products will be vital for the US hardwood industry to survive . (Quesada-Pineda and Smith, 2010).
The purpose of this research update is to present some of the most significant energy reduction practices in the forest products sector. This research update is currently using secondary sources, lit reviews, to discover popular energy saving practices within the forest products industry. The update will provide industry examples of best energy management practices and how these practices should be applied throughout the forest products industry.
In the U.S., industrial energy demand accounts for 26% of total energy consumption supporting the statement that the U.S. is a highly industrialized country (EIA, 2010). 14% of the industrial energy demand is supplied by electricity making electrical energy demand a large source to focus on potential reduction (EIA, 2010). The forest products industry makes up a small portion of the U.S. industry however; with increasing prices on electrical demand electricity is a contemporary topic for savings correlated with manufacturing cost. Electricity prices have increased by 1.24 cents per kilowatthour from 2005 to 2009 (EIA, 2010). Energy prices are predicted to steadily increase in the future. Coal accounts for 45% of total sources used for electricity however; coal stocks have decreased between May 2010 and May 2011 by 8.6 % which is a higher percentage than expected (EIA, 2010).
Figure1 shows the predicted increase in demand for coal and natural gas as a source of fuel for electrical generation. However; due to decreased stocks in coal and natural gas, electricity prices are predicted to rise. With predicted rises in electrical prices this makes electricity cost within a manufacturing facility an important element to analyze.
Energy savings opportunities through the implementation of “lean” manufacturing principles applied to different processes within the system can be quantified. When applying lean manufacturing principles, the focus is on adding value from the perspective of the consumer. Eliminating or trimming waste from the process materializes from the idea of value adding and non-value adding through the eyes of the consumer. Waste within a process has a significant impact on manufacturing cost, where energy utilization is one predominate cost. Dominant manufacturing costs in the form of electricity consist of compressed air, inefficient motors, and lighting.