When it comes to manufacturing innovation geared towards the needs of sawmills, fewfirms can compete with Bridgnorthbased AV Birch who have recently notched another success story.

Towards the end of last year they launched their new standard post notching machine and it’s already attracting the eye of sawmills across the UK and Ireland.

Dave Bradley of AV Birch explained: “We see this as the start of a new range of machines that cater for specific sawmill machine shop requirements. There are two versions of the new notching machine; manual and automated.

“With the manual version the operator sets the position of cutting heads with a ratchet or a drill to turn the leads screws to the desired point. The position is fed back to the HMI via an encoder mounted on the leadscrew. With the automated version this is done via the HMI and servo motors automatically move the heads in to position.

“The machine has been designed with automated feed systems in mind. Both the entry and the exit ofthe machine are “bolt on” systems, enabling the integration of destacking and stacking systems relatively easily.

“During our onsite trials we did a timed production run. The existing process time for a pack of 54 posts was around 2 hours not including the top rebate as this was an additional process.

“Our machine produced a pack of fully notched posts with top rebate and top weather edge in 8 minutes 21 seconds on average. One of our customers worked out that the machine would pay for its self in 1.5 years if he only runs it one day per week!” added David.

Ross Preston, the engineer who designed and built the new machine, added: “We were developing this over a six month period in 2020 in response to enquiries from existing sawmill customers looking for a more efficient and flexible notching machine.

“Sawmills are always looking for a competitive edge in what is a market of very fine margins so this machine ticks a lot of their boxes when it comes to machine shop technologies that improve efficiency.

“Existing systems on the market come nowhere near the productivity exhibited by our notching machine and that’s before you take into account the flexibility when it comes to the position of each notch.

“We are pioneers in many respects. There are very few machine builders out there delivering technologies for secondary processes within the timber industry,” added Ross.

The first order for a notching machine came in December. David and his team have been busy dealing with enquiries ever since and are currently finalising the marketing materials and video content.

“There’s been a lot of interest from sawmill owners and managers and a very positive reaction from our first customer who is based in Norfolk. We feel sure they will be the first of many,” David added.

It takes around 15 to 20 minutes to set up the manual machine but under 5 minutes for the automated version.

Up to 5 features can be notched on each post simultaneously in one pass including a top rebate notch and weather edge that is fully adjustable ¼, ½, ¾ with full top weather, two way weather and round top options.

It can process posts ranging from 1800mm up to 3000mm (100mm to 175mm timber height) and delivers a 3000rpm cutting speed that results in a productivity of up to 360 posts per hour.

The automated version features a product emptying cycle, a V notch adjustment in the X & Z axis via HMI control panel (horizontal & vertical), rebate notch adjustment in the X & Z axis via HMI control panel (horizontal & vertical) and weather edge adjustment in the Z axis via HMI control panel (vertical).

The innovation culture at AV Birch never stands still as David confirmed: “We are currently developing a double ended tenoner/scarfing machine and a multihead morticer to follow on from the post notcher.

“We listen carefully to what our customers want and always endeavour to deliver state-of-the-art machinery that satisfies their needs,” he concluded.

It’s clear that if you have a problem that needs a solution just call the AV Birch team!


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