Georgia-Pacific has just completed a multi-million-dollar investment in its lumber operations in Diboll.  After six months of construction, the new Kone Crane is now in full operation high above the Diboll skyline.  Stretching 80 feet in width, 927 feet in length, and 87 feet in total height, the new crane is living up to its expectations and making the process of unloading log trucks more efficient and safer.

“It’s amazing how fast we can unload trucks with this new crane,” said Rudy Salazar, a 20-year crane operator and one of the four crane operators at Diboll Lumber.  “This is the first step in the wood manufacturing process; therefore, the speed and efficiency of the crane is critical and ultimately affects the mill’s overall production.”

Contributed Photo/Georgia Pacific

The new Kone Crane unloads trucks in one bite, compared to the previous crane that had to make two passes to collect the wood.   According to Salazar, the new crane benefits log truck drivers who can deliver their loads quickly.  “The task of unloading the trucks is so efficient now that drivers don’t have long wait times.  Instead I’m waiting on them.  For log truck drivers, time is money.  As soon as I can get a truck unloaded they are able to get back to the woods and secure another load of logs.”

Ricky Cain with Ricky Cain Logging LLC is one of the loggers who is noticing the positive impact the new crane is having on his operations.  “The new crane definitely helps the turn times because of its speed and one bite capabilities,” said Cain.  “My drivers in the past would always talk about the long wait time at Diboll, but now they are coming and going.

Cain points out that the real difference will be felt during the summer months at the height of logging operations.  “In the summer when there are heavy truck flows, that is where the long waits will really come into play.  If a truck gets hung up in the mill, it costs me a load or two per day,” said Cain.   “Logging crews have large fixed payments such as notes and insurance, and they are paid by the tons of wood produced and hauled.  Any added production or added loads per day adds to their profit.”

Originally used as a military shipyard crane, and relocated to Diboll in the 1960’s, the previous crane unloaded about 50 trucks a day. With innovative upgrades and increased efficiency, the crane ultimately served approximately 130 trucks daily until construction began on the new crane in March 2018.  As anticipated the new Kone Crane is surpassing earlier productivity standards and is unloading up to 165 trucks each day.

The Kone Crane also boasts numerous operational improvements including automatic scales that show the operator the exact weight of a load of logs and security features that prohibit operators from picking up logs beyond the maximum tonnage allowed; cameras that allow the operator to have a 360 degree view of the truck that is being unloaded; increased log storage capacity; lightening protection; and LED lighting for complete visibility.  There are also maintenance platforms that are easily accessible, and operators benefit from a heated and cooled cabin.

“This is a significant investment in the East Texas timber industry,” said Danny Wright, Georgia-Pacific Diboll Lumber plant manager.  “As one of Georgia-Pacific’s largest lumber operations, we are constantly looking for ways to enhance and grow operations in East Texas while focusing on safety and environmental excellence.”