Nelson Bros Engineering 2008 Newsletter




The Goal of NBE is to make simple scanner/optimizer systems that install in a day, run forever, give the best recovery and cost the least.  We do not always meet the goal, but at least we are trying.



The best measure of a simple system is the parts count.  Our systems use 2 standard PC computers, 2 or more JoeScan heads and about $400 worth of other parts.  We always include 100% spares.


All of our optimizers consist of one optimization program with a couple data files and the JoeScan Diagnostics program.  The optimization program can run as an optimizer, supervisor, monitor or a standalone demo.  You can run multiple computers as monitors that follow one optimizer.  You can run multiple monitor programs on one computer that follows multiple optimizers.


Nothing is sweeter than a crisp startup.  You get crisp startups with simple systems and experienced startup people.   NBE strives to have the best startups in the industry.


Our systems may not run forever, but we are getting there.  The JoeScan heads have proven so reliable, that they now offer a 5 year warranty.  The PC computer has now emerged as our least reliable component.  Fortunately our Supervisor Computer acts as a Hot-Spare for the Optimizer, so little time is lost if a computer dies.  We use Dell PCs and they provide good computer support.


Best recovery  Like every other vendor we think we get the best recovery.  Maybe a better question is what system gets the best recovery after one year.  This is where a simple lineally scanned system always wins over a complicated transverse system with a positioning infeed.


When customers ask about our service department, we say that if you make a system that does not need service, you do not need a service department.  Companies with service departments do a disservice in two ways.  First, they try to make money, which only means that it will cost you money.  Second, they tend to make systems that require service.  NBE does not want a disservice department, so we make simple systems with commercially available parts.  We also provide free phone support and remote access.


The results are simple systems that cost the least to buy and the least to own.



The Sawmill Vendor Cycle.  Big vendors need big sales to stay in business.  When the industry cycles down, the big vendors buy up competitors, then ultimately layoff a bunch of people.  These people then start new companies that can survive the hard times, then do really well when times get good, thus creating a new batch of competitors.  NBE cleverly survives the cycle by never making a bunch of money during the good times, thus never becoming attractive for a buyout.



NBE has done remarkably well during these tough times.  A lot of our projects are upgrades and upgrade work tends to remain steady during hard times.  Also, the few new mills are more price conscious, so we are getting a larger share.  Hardwood mills are continually turning to optimization, so we are getting a large portion of that work.  And finally the drop in the value of the US dollar has resulted in more sales down-under. We like to think our success is due to our good looks, but it is probably due to pricing and successful startups.


NBE has been an advocate of lineal scanning, so why are we doing so many transverse scanning system?  First, you have to do transverse for trimmers, so once you have done that, you may as well do transverse with positioning tables for edgers.  When the customer is convinced they want transverse, we can either say they are dumb or go along with it.  We have learned that calling the customer dumb is not very profitable.


Our transverse scanner is still a Simple System.  The only difference is the large number of JoeScan heads.  Our goals were to use one scan technology, get data on sides as well as top and bottom, get length to 1/10”, not require a blower system, have good access to bottom heads and to not block the operator’s view.  We are pleased with the results.



Nelson Bros Engineering – Trout Lake, Wa. - 360-951-2737