Trees: From Seed to Sawdust – Episode 18 – Exploring Engineered Wood Products in a Visit to Smartply

OSB is an example of an engineered wood product. And what is OSB- Orientated Strand Board? Well, have a listen to find out. In this programme Monica meets Neil Foot, CEO of Smartply and Medite and David Murray who oversees Technical Affairs and Ireland’s Sales at both companies.

Engineered wood, is made, in the case of Orientated Strand Board, by taking the thinnings from softwood conifer plantations and putting it through a process whereby it is transformed into board that is as hard as any hardwood timber.

This process takes place at Smartply located in Belview Co Kilkenny where Monica meets Neil Foot. She is taken on a tour around the plant beginning first in the log yard where stacks upon stacks of logs have been delivered from the plantations and are ready to be processed. The first step is debarking, and the bark is used in heating processes further down the line. Then the stripped log is taken through a very noisy process of ‘waferising’, where it’s torn up into wafers or large flakes. These large flakes are then dried, misted with adhesive resin, and laid down in specially orientated layers to form a woody mat. This woody mat is then pressed and a board – Orientated Strand Board (OSB) is made.

It sounds easy, but it’s a complex product. Between both Smartply and it’s sister company Medite, which makes MDF, 90 truckloads of tree logs come in and 50 truckloads of product leave each week. 360 people are employed between both sites, and they are the largest timber processer in the country. They are owned by Coillte who took over the running of Smartply in 2002 when the original owners, Louisiana Pacific left Ireland.


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