Comparison of the Economic Feasibility between Conventional and Vacuum Drying for 4/4 Red Oak

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Forest Products Society


Vacuum drying of wood is a method to reduce drying time and inventory; however, there is limited information regarding the economic feasibility for vacuum drying 4/4 red oak compared with traditional drying methods. The benefits of this technology, mainly dramatically reduced drying times and higher flexibility, must be weighed against the higher initial capital investment. The goal of this project was to compare the economic feasibility, using capital budgeting techniques, of conventional drying and vacuum drying for 4/4 red oak lumber. The analysis was conducted for two actual flooring manufacturers. Conventional drying for this analysis was considered to be air-drying plus kiln drying, which is commonly done with red oak. The vacuum technology considered used hot platens for heating the wood. Species, thickness, drying methods, and lumber demand compared, both drying methods (conventional and vacuum drying) were determined to be economically feasible. However, vacuum drying had a slightly higher net present value, cost–benefit ratio, and sensitivity analysis than conventional drying, making it a slightly better investment for drying 4/4 red oak. The initial tied-up inventory and its respective cost in the conventional drying scenario represents an opportunity cost that can be recovered using vacuum drying. This recovered cost can result in freed capital that can be invested elsewhere to increase competitiveness.



Forestry, Materials Science, Paper & Wood, Materials Science