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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Other Wood Processing Machine Operators(9434)

Wood processing machine operators in this unit group operate and tend wood processing equipment and machines to remove bark from logs, produce wood chips, preserve and treat wood, and produce waferboards, particle boards, hardboards, insulation boards, plywood, veneers and similar wood products. They are employed in sawmills, woodrooms of pulp mills, planing mills, wood treatment plants, waferboard plants and other wood processing plants.

Reading Help - Reading
  • May read notes from supervisors regarding kiln operations and maintenance. (1)
  • May read safety bulletins and machine lockout procedures. (2)
  • May read memos to learn what volume and sizes of wood products are on order to plan how and when to adjust the equipment. (2)
  • May read memos regarding job postings, changes in policy and upcoming company events. (2)
  • May refer to kiln operation and maintenance manuals to learn how to test moisture levels in wood before and during drying or to diagnose and fix kiln problems. (3)
  • May read lathe manuals to solve mechanical problems without having to call maintenance workers. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • May read safety signs in mills and the labels on equipment control panels. (1)
  • May read lists of control system faults. (1)
  • May complete tally sheets for kilns when they are loaded, checking off widths and lengths of lumber. (1)
  • May record data onto particleboard press reports, such as press times and temperatures, dryer temperatures and board thickness. (1)
  • May complete kiln quality assurance check forms, recording data such as the date, charge number, time in and out, total drying time and refinement times. (1)
  • May refer to kiln schedules to determine the type of wood to be dried, drying times and kiln temperature settings. (2)
  • May read computer screens to check how much drying time is left on each kiln and the temperature inside the kilns. (2)
  • May read moisture content testing charts, listing moisture content percentage readings for tests done per kiln load. (2)
  • May read bills of lading for trucks being loaded with lumber. (2)
  • May read bucking specification sheets showing various log lengths, the total length of the log and lengths to buck from the top, mid and butt sections of the log. (2)
  • May read line graphs plotting a kiln's humidity and temperature levels along a time axis and a heat output axis to determine if heating times should be increased or decreased. (2)
  • May complete downtime sheets indicating the time on each shift when machines were not operating and the reasons why they were not operating. (2)
  • May read computer-generated bar and line graphs providing information about percents of motor output, volume of resin input per minute and press hydraulic pressure. (3)
  • May read schematic drawings of lathe or clipper equipment or of hydraulic motors to troubleshoot mechanical problems. (3)
  • May look at illustrations on computer-generated analogue schematics representing kilns and charges of lumber to understand how equipment operates and to troubleshoot mechanical problems. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write notes to the next shift's workers about unusual occurrences during shifts. (1)
  • Write notes to supervisors to order needed parts or to suggest changes or improvements in procedures. (2)
  • Complete forms such as tally sheets, quality assurance forms and moisture content inspection reports. (2)
  • Write explanatory notes on the operator's report about specific situations encountered while debarking. (2)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Scheduling, Budgeting and Accounting Math
  • May keep track of each part of the production process, noting whether production tasks are on schedule. (1)
  • May run press loads of boards through production lines, monitoring how adjustments in the timing of one part of the schedule will affect other stages. (2)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • May, when doing peels with lathes, measure spans between spur knives to ensure they are in the right positions. (1)
  • May read dials and gauges to ensure that volumes of material, speeds of belts, temperatures of presses and dryers and percentages of moisture fall within specifications for optimum production. (1)
  • May calculate how many 12-foot pieces of lumber can fit into a one hundred foot kiln. (2)
Data Analysis Math
  • May record the temperatures of kilns during particular time periods, analyzing the records to ensure the kiln is not heating up too quickly. (1)
  • May read numerical data on computer-generated reports and graphs to decide how to adjust temperature, time, fans and vents in a kiln. (2)
Numerical Estimation
  • May estimate whether a log's diameter is under a certain measurement. (1)
  • May estimate the length of drying time, considering the time of year and how long the lumber has been sitting in the yard. (2)
  • May estimate the length of time it will take to fill bins with material of one dimension before changing settings to another dimension. (2)
  • May estimate how much time the charge needs to be heated to dry it to the specified moisture content. They assess the degree of deviation from specified tolerances, the dimensions of lumber that are in the charge, if any one side of the charge is wetter and how adjustments to the fan and venting will affect the drying time. If they overdry the lumber, it may crack in the planer. (3)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • May talk with lumber handlers when loading lumber onto skids and into kilns to ensure the lumber is lined up properly. (1)
  • May ask watchmen or other workers for assistance when loading kilns. (1)
  • May communicate with yard workers and truck drivers when loading and unloading charges of lumber. (1)
  • May discuss kiln operating problems with the millwrights who repair them. (2)
  • May give instructions to co-workers regarding forklift operations. (2)
  • May discuss test results with quality controllers. (2)
  • May interact with supervisors to discuss computer readouts and clarify cutting orders. (2)
  • May communicate with customers concerning orders they have placed for logs of a certain dimension. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • May have to deal with lifts of lumber that are not straight. They attempt to straighten them out manually or send them back to be stacked again. (1)
  • May encounter brown staining of the wood. They reduce the heat to dry wood at milder temperatures. (1)
  • May find that crooked logs become stuck in the debarker between the infeed and outfeed. Operators must determine the cause of the problem and find a way to get the log out. (2)
  • May encounter kilns which are not working at specified levels of drying times. They troubleshoot to discover the source of the problem. (2)
  • May find that logs get hung up on conveyors. They must leave the control booths and use hooks and chains to pull them free without damaging machinery. (2)
  • May discover quality problems, such as blow outs in particleboard resulting from imbalances in face and core moisture levels. They assess and adjust factors such as the thickness of core and face layers, heat in dryers and presses, moisture in materials and belt speeds. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide whether to free a jammed log by operating controls or whether to get out of the control booth and use force. They take into account the likelihood of damaging machinery and the effect on production speed when deciding how to cope with the jam. (1)
  • Decide how to buck logs to get the most prime lengths from them while producing the least waste. They follow bucking specifications, custom order notes and their own assessment of the quality of the logs. (2)
  • Decide which charge to put into kilns next, considering priorities, the length of different types of timber and the amount needed to fill the kiln. (2)
  • Decide how to set and adjust production equipment. They base their decisions on past experience and on their assessment of how the process is going and how each adjustment will affect the rest of the process. (2)
  • Decide if wet loads of lumber should be returned to the kiln for further drying or left to finish drying in the yard. (2)
  • Decide whether to shut down or delay production when equipment problems occur. They assess at what stage of production the plant is and whether they are nearing a size change which would require stopping anyway. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Wood processing machine operators in this group follow production schedules determined by their supervisors and customer requests. They plan maintenance tasks such as making knife changes and size settings in order to create the least downtime. They plan how many press loads of each dimension to produce in each shift and when to make size changes to maximize efficiency.

pWhen using production line equipment, as in particleboard manufacturing or veneer peeling, the sequence of tasks is dictated by the line equipment, but the operators control the timing and speeds of the line. The process is generally routine, although often hectic, involving moving logs and lumber on conveyors, debarking or peeling logs and operating particle board screens, pumps and presses. Schedules may change if problems arise such as pipes bursting or belts breaking. (2)

Finding Information
  • Refer to drying schedules which are posted on walls close by the kilns. (1)
  • Check computers that control kilns, to see how much time is left and what the temperature is. (1)
  • Talk with managers or resin-supply companies about new kinds of resins and ways to use them. (2)
  • Contact their supervisors or millwrights about equipment failures in order to find the most effective option for repairs. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • They may use computerized equipment, such as lathes. (1)
  • Use computer-controlled equipment. For example, they may use computerized kilns and moisture meters. (1)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Wood processing machine operators in this group mainly work independently, often in control booths. They may work with helpers when logs need to be straightened or pushed in and out of kilns and when equipment needs to be adjusted. They work as part of a production line team which includes grapple operators who feed the logs at the beginning of the process and lumber graders at the end of the process. They co-ordinate their work with others in the team to ensure that a rhythm develops.

Continuous Learning

Wood processing machine operators in this group continue to learn. For example, when new machinery is installed, operators may receive training courses from installers and read manuals. They take various courses relating to the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), survival first aid, dangerous goods and forklift operation.

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