Artemis Tree Services – Fuelwood Splitta 400 Case Study
Turning the timber collected from tree surgery into cash from firewood is a no brainer for many tree surgeons. Fuelwood’s customer, Artemis Tree Services of Rickmansworth, has taken this opportunity to a new level for their business with the recent purchase of a Fuelwood Splitta 400 automatic firewood processing machine.
Now watch the case study video featuring Artemis Managing Director Simon N’Jie
Artemis are ideally located to service the London and surrounding areas with firewood. Cities like London have seen a big increase in wood burning stove ownership in recent years due to the availability of clean burn stoves. This means even residences in many ‘smokeless zones’ are able to enjoy a real fire. Naturally Artemis wisely sampled their target market before investing in higher volume firewood production. They did this at first by investing in an AMR log splitter from Fuelwood. This enabled them to create enough firewood in a day to make it cost effective, and it generated a sufficient volume of firewood to make marketing and testing the viability of the service worthwhile.
The test marketing proved successful and Artemis then set out a plan to move into higher volume production. Ultimately, they wanted the ability to be able to convert as much of the 2000 cubic metres of timber they collect from both domestic and commercial tree surgery each year, into valuable firewood.
After much market research, Artemis decided on buying a Fuelwood Splitta 400 firewood processor. This superb automated firewood machine is capable of producing up to 12.0 solid m3/hr, so is a huge step up in volume from a manual log splitter and is a serious commercial proposition. With seasoned or kiln dried firewood selling at around £100 +VAT per cubic metre delivered, it becomes a very viable business.
The demand for firewood is growing steadily year on year as more and more domestic homes install wood burning fires and stoves. Over 175,000 wood burners were installed in houses throughout the UK last year, the majority being new installs to replace gas fires.
The fuel value of firewood is determined by its ‘Calorific Value’ (CV) i.e. the amount of heat produced per unit (volume) of wood. CV is determined by two key factors; 1) Wood density, 2) Moisture content. Of these two, moisture content has by far the greatest effect on CV as any water in the timber has to boil away before the timber will ignite. Wood that isn’t sufficiently dry will also result in a fire that smoulders and creates a lot of smoke and tar which can be highly corrosive to flue linings and increase the risk of chimney fires. Wet logs will also blacken the glass of stoves, even those designed to self-cleaning. Many stove manufacturers specify a moisture content of 20% or less for both safety and stove efficiency.
A well-seasoned dried log has twice the CV energy of an equivalent fresh green log, so dry logs are a win win situation for consumers. The type of tree the log comes from has little impact on its CV value, some trees such as Ash have a naturally low moisture content when green. Kiln drying of course speeds up the drying process. Hardwoods are popular because being denser than softwoods they occupy less space by weight and burn longer requiring fewer top ups by the stove user. Hardwoods therefore command a premium price over softwoods.
Moving into the commercial production of firewood makes huge commercial sense, especially so if a large amount of the timber is being generated free through tree surgery. The Fuelwood Splitta 400 is the logical choice for those serious about automating volume firewood production. Some of the information used in this article was taken from the Forestry Commission’s Biomass Centre : http://www.biomassenergycentre.org.uk
For more information about Fuelwood’s range of firewood processors and advice on moving into volume firewood production, please call us on: 01926 484673.