Norwood Sawmills’ modular portable mills well received in African countries


Article originally published in the April 2014 Edition of the Wood Southern Africa and Timber Times.

JSE-Listed woodworking machine supplier and local agent for Norwood Sawmills, Austro, reports that its Norwood bandmills are exceptionally well received in African countries.

Austro’s Norwood Sawmills sales specialist, Peter Uys, and national manager for machine sales, Trevor Williams, say Austro has been very successful in the African market where multiple mills have already been installed since July last year.


“When the next container arrives in Africa, there will be dozens of Norwood Sawmills in operation in one African country alone,” notes Uys.

Uys and Williams explain the several reasons for the success of Norwood band sawmills in the African market.

Firstly, Norwood machines are offered in a modular format which allows the sawmill owner to add manual or hydraulic attachments such as log loaders, log turners, toe boards and power feed onto his mill as his sawing operation grows. He can start very affordably and then expand his capacity as his business develops, without having to buy a whole new sawmill.

Secondly, Norwood machines are easy to assemble, very affordable and extremely rugged for use in African conditions.

“Locally we supply the Norwood LumberPro HD36 and LumberMate LM29 portable sawmills. Owing to their modular system, these two base models can be customised into over 20 different configurations. This makes it easy for the owner to increase the capacity and productivity of his sawmill as his business grows,” explains Uys.

Williams adds that quality, reliability, durability and affordability all play key roles in the success of these Norwood Sawmills on the African continent.

“The Norwood sawmills are ideal for harsh African conditions. Owing to their sturdy structure and very simple design, the mills are often used in very remote or rural areas. The simple structure and compatible components make it easy for users to do basic repairs themselves thereby reducing downtime,” explains Williams.

Further, Uys and Williams explain that Austro receives the sawmills disassembled or knocked-down and benefit from receiving several machines in one container as opposed to one fully-assembled machine per container.

“This shipment method has various benefits for us and the client. We enjoy a healthy stockholding while the client benefits from price advantages through cost savings that are achieved during sea and road shipping. We also assemble the critical components of the sawmill before we ship it to clients thereby ensuring that the assembly is even easier and faster for the user,” notes Williams.

Further, new legislation in some African countries has also driven portable sawmill sales. The new legislation, which was passed in 2008, is aimed at preventing foreigners from exploiting African citizens through unsavoury business deals.

The new legislation prohibits local and foreign sawmillers from cutting with circular saw blades and exporting raw timber such as logs, cants and planks. Sawyers are only allowed to cut with band blades because of their dramatically higher yield. When fully implemented and policed, this legislation will bring more money into African countries through the exports of finished timber and boards, as opposed to the wholesale shipment of logs in the round.

“This legislation will not only help African countries to take back charge of its forestry and sawmilling operations, which have long been exploited, it will also enable us to better showcase the benefits of our Norwood sawmills in various regions in Africa,” concludes Williams


LumberPro HD36

This sawmill can do the job of an industrial scale sawmill. It can process hardwood and softwood logs of up to 91 cm in diameter and can cut boards of up to 70 cm wide

The mill has an auto-locking sawhead, automatic stop and start for blade lubrication, a laminated sawhead construction, quick-set log rests, auto-locking adjustable blade guides and Dura-Guide ceramic guides, besides many others.

The LumberPro’s wide-track log deck is made from twin double-plated commercial grade steel rails, which is extremely strong and rigid. Some other features include:

  • Rigid four-post carriage frame: The four-post carriage supports the sawhead from both sides, stabilising it to ensure straight cuts.
  • Dura-Guide ceramic blade guides: The blade guides offer three-sided support to the saw blade ensuring it is stable when cutting. The ceramic blade guides are more durable than bearings and rollers and they also run cooler, more quietly and are less affected by sawdust build-up and freezing. Because the ceramic blade guides eliminate blade deflection and down-pressure, they extend the blade life by up to 40%.
  • Single-action multifunction operator’s control: When activated, the lever at the operator’s station simultaneously throttles up the engine, turns on the blade lubrication and engages the centrifugal clutch. These time-saving automated functions boost efficiency and production.
  • Oversized bandwheels: The sawmill features custom industrial sized cast iron, precision machined and balanced bandwheels that measure in at 50 cm X 2.2 cm. The super wide surface area maximises sawmill blade support, minimises cupping and extends blade life.
  • Worry-free cross bunks: The narrow cross-bunk design eliminates debris build-up and standard stainless steel caps protect the sawmill and prevents staining of the lumber.

Norwood LumberMate LM29 portable sawmill

The LumberMate LM29 is designed to mill hardwood and softwood logs of up to 73 cm in diameter and cuts lumber of up to 55 cm wide. Like the LumberPro HD36, it is fully customisable and shares many of the same great features including:

  • Industrial grade powder coat: The LumberMate is protected by an industrial grade powder coat. This coat is a thermo polymer that is electrostatically applied and cured to create a hard finish, which is much tougher than old-fashioned spray paint that can rust, chip and scratch.
  • Blade lubrication system: This system ensures that the saw blade remains pitch-free when processing softwoods. The system delivers water directly onto the blade at the point where it enters into the cut.
  • The large custom-moulded water bottle has a wide-mouth filling port for easy refilling. An optional auto-lube system automatically turns the flow of water on and off.
  • Smooth sawhead feed: The sawhead can be guided through the cut by applying very little pressure when moving the operator lever. It allows the operator to judge the best speed for a smooth cut through knots and denser core wood.
  • Comfort height operator station: The operator station has an ergonomic design and can be tilted to best suit the operator.

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