Freres tour features mass plywood panel innovations

Mar 1, 2023 | Author: Mike Barsotti. LCSWA President | Editor: Nancy Hildebrandt

Approximately 30 family forest landowners toured two of Freres Engineered Wood’s six milling facilities recently. Their mills are located in Linn County’s Lyons-Mill City area.

Freres, family owned and operated since 1922, produces veneer, plywood, sheathing, lumber, and Mass Plywood Panels (MPP). Third generation owners, cousins Rob and Tyler Freres, spent the afternoon Jan. 31 leading tours of Plants 1 and 6. Plant 1 is a small-log veneer mill. Plant 6 is their MPP facility.

Freres’ small-log veneer plant is a study in constant innovations. From cooking the logs first with steam but now with hot water, to centering logs on the lathe with their fourth-generation laser system. Their latest innovation is an automated process to tape together pieces of veneer to make full 4 X 8-foot sheets. Prior to this partial veneer sheets that came off the lathe as the log became a cylinder and were sent to the chipper.

The tour of MPP facility was most impressive. The temperature controlled 182,000-square foot manufacturing plant uses robots to handle 4 X 8-foot panels. A computer-controlled router cuts holes in the large panels for everything from electrical outlets to doors and windows. The manufactured panels can be from 12-feet wide by 48-feet long and 2 to 24 inches thick.

Visitors chatting with a Freres representative
Tyler Freres (left) explains to a group of family forest landowners the method for applying glue in the construction of their Mass Plywood Panels during a tour of Freres’ Plant 6. Photo by Bonnie Marshall.

Freres’ patented MPP product went from a concept in 2015 to the constructed plant in 2017. Their MPP products are the only patented product on the market.

In addition to making these large panels, the plant also produce other mass plywood products. A mix of laminated panels, beams and columns can be used to construct an entire building from pre-fabricated mass timber floor, roof and wall panels.

The tour included visits to two building that were constructed entirely with mass plywood products. One was Freres’ fire cache storage building adjacent to Plant 6. The other was Santiam Canyon School District’s new gym.

Several local buildings have used these MPPs. They include Oregon State University’s Peavy Forest Science Center and Emmerson Advanced Wood Products Laboratory, the Union Gospel Mission Men’s Shelter and Chemeketa Community College’s agricultural complex. MPPs are a key component of PDX’s new terminal roof. MPPs heading to Washington State University’s Vancouver Campus were stacked in the plants loading area waiting to be shipped.

It was a most interesting tour seeing existing and new uses for the timber forest landowners produce. Special thanks go to Tyler and Rob Freres for taking the time to show their facilities.

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Landowners tour Freres’ fire cache facility constructed entirely with Mass Plywood Panels, and laminated columns and beams. Photo by Mike Barsotti.

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