Sri Lankan Timber Yard Busy with Domestic Orders
By Wood-Mizer, Europe
Not far from the capitol city of Sri Lanka, Colombo, Mr. Mahawatta’s company - Sampath Sawmill - buzzes with constant motion. He runs two Wood-Mizer sawmills, an LT20 sawmill and an LT40, both which use thin-kerf blades to cut his logs. But years ago, he started small with just one small LT15 sawmill.
“I used to work in my uncle’s sawmill as the sawmill manager,” Mr. Mahawatta shares. “Afterwards, I started my own business. I have worked in this industry for twenty years, and over time I noticed how much waste there was when sawing logs. But with Wood-Mizer sawmills using new technology and narrow bandsaw blades, a lot of wood is saved. The sawdust produced is minimal, which saves a fair amount of wood.”
“Normally we bring in logs, saw them into timber, and supply our customers. From that process we can earn a good profit. Previously we had an outside sawmill company that we hired to saw the logs. But now with our sawmills we can save a lot by doing the work ourselves. Our logs come from all over the country. We get logs from every corner of Sri Lanka. We cut kumbuk, jackwood, turpentine, grandis, and more here.”
No value addition is done on site. “We only do sawing here, and we saw special kinds of wood depending on the customer’s requirement.”
“Using the Wood-Mizer sawmill to cut the logs, we can prepare all the orders in time because the sawmilling process is fast. Our customers are very happy with the quality of the wood we supply, because the dimensions of the sawn wood are exactly what they requested, and the surface finish is also good.”
“We don’t export wood. We only supply to local companies and individual customers,” Mr. Mahawatta shares in regard to the current market conditions. Sri Lankan sawmillers are busy with orders, and their forests are well stocked with quality trees, but unlike many Asian countries, they are not exporting their timber. The timber is mostly for local use.
“In Sri Lanka, customers are still redeveloping their country after the war with the Tamil Tigers,” says James Wong, regional manager for Wood-Mizer Asia. “Therefore, most of the sawmills are producing timber for the domestic market.”
“I spent five million Sri Lankan rupees for this sawmill. In one and half years, I have earned my investment back three times,” Mr. Mahawatta shares. “You can get 85% yield from a good quality log if you use a Wood-Mizer sawmill. In the old days, we were only getting 50-60% yield from our logs. Everything else was waste. But now we are saving a lot of wood.”
“My advice for the Sri Lankan sawmillers is that people should be educated on how to use Wood-Mizer sawmills to meet their sawmilling requirements. We have limited forests in Sri Lanka, so you need to save wood and not waste it unnecessarily.”