Crow Engineering Partners with RIOS to Revolutionize the Wood Products Industry

Crow Engineering Partners with RIOS to Revolutionize the Wood Products Industry

Crow Engineering is excited to announce our partnership with RIOS to drive innovation, enhance capabilities, and improve efficiency in the wood products industry. Through AI and robotics, we can optimize design, automate tasks, and reduce errors, resulting in cost savings and increased productivity. This collaboration also enhances safety by handling hazardous tasks and provides valuable data insights for better decision-making. Furthermore, it meets customer demand for advanced solutions and supports scalability and sustainability.

“Our partnership with RIOS brings specialized expertise and cutting-edge technology, giving Crow Engineering a significant competitive edge,” said Hunter Wylie, President and Director of Industrial Engineering. “We look forward to pioneering new advancements and setting new industry standards through this collaboration.”

For more information, please contact:

John Zeitlin
Vice President
Crow Engineering
PH: 817-239-8406 

About Crow Engineering:
Crow Engineering is a leading innovator in the wood products industry, dedicated to providing top-notch engineering solutions and driving industry growth through advanced technology.

About RIOS:
RIOS is a premier AI and robotics company focused on delivering transformative automation solutions across various industries.

Realize the Many Benefits of Optimizing Processes

Realize the Many Benefits of Optimizing Processes

Optimizing Processes is a necessity to remain competitive in any manufacturing market. Organizations across all sectors recognize the immense benefits of streamlining their operations to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and enhance overall performance.

The Many Benefits of Process Optimization

Optimizing processes entails examining and improving existing business functions to make them more efficient and effective. This long-term strategic approach can significantly impact an organization’s operational efficiency and bottom line. Here, we explore the key advantages of process optimization and how it can transform your business operations.

Increased Efficiency

The primary goal of process optimization is to enhance the efficiency of business processes. By streamlining operations and eliminating unnecessary steps, businesses can significantly reduce the time required to complete various tasks. This efficiency gain not only speeds up production but also allows employees to focus on higher-value activities, leading to increased productivity and better utilization of resources. For example, a manufacturing company that optimizes its assembly line processes might significantly reduce cycle times, enabling it to produce more units in less time without compromising quality.

Cost Reduction

One of the most tangible benefits of process optimization is cost reduction. Efficient processes consume fewer resources, which directly translates to lower operational costs. By identifying and eliminating wasteful practices, businesses can reduce overhead costs such as energy consumption, materials, and labor. For instance, optimizing supply chain logistics can decrease transportation costs and reduce the need for large inventories, thus minimizing storage expenses.

Improved Quality

Optimization typically involves standardizing processes and implementing best practices, which leads to higher-quality outputs. Streamlined processes are less prone to errors, ensuring that the final products or services meet quality standards consistently. This improvement in quality not only enhances the company’s reputation but also reduces the costs associated with rework and customer complaints.

Enhanced Customer Satisfaction

Customers expect quick, reliable, and effective service. Optimized processes often lead to faster service delivery and higher product quality, both of which significantly enhance customer satisfaction. For example, by optimizing the order-to-delivery process, a company can shorten delivery times and improve order accuracy, leading to a better customer experience and increased customer loyalty.

Increased Flexibility and Agility

In a dynamic business environment, flexibility and agility are crucial. Optimized processes are typically easier to adjust and reconfigure in response to market changes or new opportunities. This adaptability is vital for businesses looking to innovate and stay competitive. By maintaining streamlined operations, companies can more quickly implement changes, whether adapting to new market trends, regulatory changes, or technological advancements.

Better Resource Allocation

Process optimization helps organizations identify inefficient use of resources and re-allocate them more effectively. By eliminating redundancies and automating routine tasks, resources can be shifted to areas with higher return potential. This strategic allocation supports innovation and development projects, driving further growth and efficiency within the organization.


As businesses become increasingly aware of their environmental impact, process optimization offers a pathway to sustainability. Efficient processes typically use less energy, generate less waste, and consume fewer raw materials, which not only reduces environmental impact but also lowers costs. For example, a company that optimizes its energy usage not only cuts costs but also contributes to broader environmental goals, enhancing its corporate social responsibility profile.

Long-Term Success and Competitive Advantage

Ultimately, the cumulative effect of the benefits of process optimization contributes to the long-term success and sustainability of an organization. Enhanced efficiency, reduced costs, improved quality, and increased customer satisfaction work together to strengthen a company’s competitive position in the market. Moreover, the agility and flexibility gained through optimization prepare businesses to face future challenges more effectively.

Process optimization is an ongoing endeavor that requires continuous evaluation and adjustment. Organizations that commit to refining their operations can reap substantial rewards, achieving not just short-term gains but also setting the foundation for sustained success. The ability to optimize and adapt is more crucial than ever in the rapidly evolving business landscape.

Crow Engineering: Leaders in Process Optimization

Crow Engineering offers tailored solutions that significantly enhance manufacturing and operational efficiency. Our team of experts specializes in analyzing and redesigning workflows to eliminate inefficiencies and streamline production processes. By integrating cutting-edge technologies and proven strategies, we help clients achieve faster production cycles, reduce costs, and improve product quality. Whether it’s fine-tuning an existing operation or designing a new process from the ground up, Crow Engineering provides the expertise and tools necessary to transform your business operations and drive sustainable growth.

Crow Engineering is dedicated to helping businesses enhance their operational efficiency through expert process optimization. With our innovative solutions and experienced team, we ensure that your processes are lean, cost-effective, and perfectly aligned with your strategic goals. Contact us today to see how we can help optimize your operations for maximum efficiency and profitability.

Another Year to Remember or Another Year to Forget? 2021 in Review

Another Year to Remember or Another Year to Forget? 2021 in Review

Looking back on 2021, one thing is clear: the lumber and wood products industries, like much of America and much of the world, is still contending with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 was a year in which lumber prices skyrocketed and then dropped. It was a year of unpredictable financial dynamics that saw industry leaders facing unique challenges, seizing new opportunities, and trying to catch up to demand. It was, in short, a topsy-turvy year. Let’s look back.

Coming out of a legacy of loss
In 2020, the forestry sector was contending with an estimated loss of $1.1 billion. In addition to shutdowns due to the pandemic, disasters such as wildfires in the west and Hurricane Laura in the southeast wreaked havoc. Workers remained at home. Nobody was harvesting logs to be cut into lumber. Some mills remained closed. Those that opened needed to implement new safety protocols and acquire personal protective equipment. Some had to cut back production as workers got sick.

But at the same time, home buying boomed as consumers with money to spare left cities for the suburbs seeking a second home or a new remote working situation with space for the family to spread out. Others stayed in their existing houses but built home office additions or took care of long-delayed renovation and expansion projects. Restaurants, meanwhile, were busy building outdoor dining areas. These trends continued in 2021.

Easy Money
Driving demand, at least in part, were historically low interest rates and a flow of easy money as people tapped their 401(k) accounts to fund renovations and snap up new homes. One result was that the price of lumber soared from approximately $400 per thousand board feet in February 2020 to an all-time high of over $1,600 in early May 2021. When prices reached 300% above pre-pandemic levels, buyers balked. By summer, prices bottomed out, bringing buyers back into the fold – which helped drive up prices again.

Meanwhile, the escalating value of lumber saw an increase in theft. As thieves hit more and more job sites, companies sought to increase security. Police in several states warned contractors not to purchase lumber off Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace due to an increased chance of it being stolen.

Uncertainty and opportunity moving forward

Throughout 2021, experts monitoring the wood products and home construction industries sought to explain the reasons for undersupply. Many pointed to industry-wide misreadings regarding the economic impact of COVID-19 restrictions, combined with a ten-year period of under-building of new homes.

Today, these experts expect a new price level for 2022 of approximately $600 – but uncertainty abounds. Factors that could potentially impact the price include labor shortages, recent flooding in Canada affecting the transportation system, the US doubling its tariffs on softwood lumber, low interest rates that make housing more affordable, and warm temperatures in the US that enable homebuilders to keep building.

As it stands as of this writing, projections for 2022 suggest that supply chain challenges will persist and the US will not hit 2 million housing starts – due primarily to a lack of production capacity, low availability of lots, and higher cost of building materials. But on the bright side, these same projections suggest no recession for the coming year, an unemployment rate that will continue to go down, productivity increases due to hybrid work models, interest rates that will not exceed 4%, and a US South that will continue to be an attractive migration area.

So, was 2021 a year to remember or a year to forget? And what about 2022? The picture may be mixed, but no matter what the future holds for our industry, we at Crow are ready to support you and your operation. Give us a call (503) 213-2013 or email us to help your business grow in 2022.


Is Your Fabricator All That? Three Keys for Measuring Value.

Is Your Fabricator All That? Three Keys for Measuring Value.

At Crow, one of our goals is to be the first-place mills turn to improve their operations. Traditionally, we’ve pursued this goal by providing capital and maintenance project support services. Now – after acquiring Automation Industries Corporation (AIC), now Miloptic – we’ve added custom metal fabrication to our portfolio of offerings. Custom fabrication is an art – one that requires more than machines and technology for bending, forming, and cutting. Thus, as part of this acquisition, we were particularly pleased to incorporate many talented people with years of fabrication skills into the fold at Crow.

If you are looking for a metal fabricator, you might want to learn from our own acquisition experience. Here are three key points to consider to make sure your fabricator can deliver the value you expect.  

1. Equipment and materials

Does your fabricator have top-of-the-line equipment such as welders, millers, and CNC machines? And do they utilize the highest quality materials and alloys?

As a metal fabricator, it is important to supply precision metal products, heavy structural steel and plate fabrication, and sheet metal. A good fabricator offers services such as cutting, fitting, welding, testing, finishing, painting, and assembly.


2. Engineering skills

Does your fabricator have skilled engineers that pay attention to details and ensure that the equipment and parts are made specifically for your application?

Offering added services such as engineering and custom design to the fabrication is a plus. Make sure the fabricator has designers who work from any standard engineering drawings or plans and provide industrial design services.

3. Installation and turn-around

Can your fabricator install and deliver with a short turnaround?

If a project requires both fabrication and field installation, choose a fabricator that has the capabilities to tackle many types of projects as well as emergency repairs, training, and calibration. Also, keep in mind that choosing a fabrication shop that is centrally located will allow you to have more control of your products and lead time.

If you need conveyor modifications, hoists, catwalks, platforms, safety upgrades, and other fabrications for your expansion plans, be sure to tap the kind of expertise that can help you avoid mistakes, minimize costs, and ensure success.

Give us a call (503-213-2013) or email us ( to schedule a consultation and understand your fabrication needs.

Improving productivity with PLC programming

Improving productivity with PLC programming

If you need to upgrade or improve your PLC systems, start by collecting detailed field notes of equipment, wiring, functions, etc. This will give you a detailed list of components that need to be supported by your PLC systems as well as catalog of necessary parts such as new control processors, modules, remote racks, motion control components, network switches, console components, and more. Another essential task to do before the configuration of an automated control system is PLC programming.
Read more about how your operation can improve productivity with PLC programming


Improving productivity with PLC programming

In simple terms, a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is a robust computer with a microprocessor – but without a keyboard, mouse, or monitor. It is used to control industrial equipment and monitor condition states regarding temperature, moisture, dust, and more.

A PLC uses protocols and ports to communicate with other systems. After receiving information from connected input devices and sensors, the PLC processes the data and triggers required outputs per pre-programmed parameters. Based on these inputs and outputs, the PLC monitors and records runtime data regarding machine productivity, temperature, and other parameters. It can also generate alarms when machine failure occurs and initiate automatic start and stop processes – just to name a few capabilities.

To interact with a PLC, users require a Human Machine Interface (HMI). These can take the form of touchscreen panels or simple displays that allow users to input and review PLC information in real time.

When Crow works with clients seeking to improve or upgrade their PLC systems, the first activity we propose is to conduct a PLC assessment to collect detailed field notes for equipment, wiring, functions, etc. The result of such an assessment is a detailed list of components to be supported by the new PLC system – along with a list of necessary parts such as new control processors, modules, remote racks, motion control components, network switches, console components, and more.

The critical importance of programming

Another essential task is PLC programming. A PLC program consists of a set of instructions, which represent the logic to be implemented for specific industrial projects and applications. At Crow, our PLC specialist and skilled industrial electricians provide essential programming services for new PLC, HMI, and motion control systems. We study existing programs to replicate functionality, write new logic based on existing systems, and design new HMI applications to replace existing implementations.

Proper PLC programming is essential for making equipment and operations faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective. Program functions include initiating the conditions for starting a specified task, executing interruptions, and handling errors. When programmed correctly, PLCs play a critical role in enabling automation, minimizing power consumption, increasing system control, keeping records, and redistributing the available workforce to increase productivity.

Our PLC specialists also have the skills and assistance of our engineering group at their disposal. They can quickly order up needed drawings (layout drawings, control power drawings, or I/O drawings to detail device connections to new PLC) or request project management to ensure vendors and contractors are on track and deadlines are met. We also have the resources to commission equipment – and we always stick around to train technicians and operators on how to get the most out of the new system.

Why a PLC upgrade?

If you deal with reoccurring equipment nuisance issues daily, there’s a good chance these can be resolved through minor changes in your PLC Logic. Your personnel may consider these nuisances to be a simple fact of life – but with some critical observations and the right information, Crow can help you illuminate the underlying cause standing in the way of improved productivity and operational efficiency.  

Let’s say you have a minor issue that causes your line to stop five times a day with a loss of two minutes each stop. Maybe this seems like something you can live with – but, assuming a seven-day operation, you’d lose 60 hours of production per year. When your PLC is not working properly or is down, your machines stop running – causing delays that reduce productivity and cut into revenues. Crow can help. Call (503-213-2013) or email Crow ( to schedule a consultation. Our PLC specialists can provide an assessment, programming, and recommendations to improve your process.

Many investments and upgrade projects continue to emerge in the US South

Many investments and upgrade projects continue to emerge in the US South

As home construction grows, lumber consumption in the US and Canada will increase from 59 billion board feet (BBF) in 2020 to 70 BBF by 2025. Anticipating increased demand and seeking to capitalize on an extraordinary surge in lumber prices above $1,000 MBF in 2021, lumber manufacturers are making significant investments to expand manufacturing capacity. The US South – the largest softwood lumber producing region in North America (20 BBF) – is seeing most of the investment. Simultaneously, smaller lumber producers and much larger corporations will exceed 4 BBF of softwood capacity by 2022 due to many mill modernizations, reopenings, and greenfield projects to increase production capacity. The following are the recent major investment announcements:

  • Interfor
    March 2021, Interfor acquired WestRock’s sawmill in Summerville, SC (125 MMBF) for $59 MM (included log and lumber inventories). Interfor will invest $30 MM to increase production up to 200 MMBF annually. Also, in July 2021, Interfor purchased three sawmills from Georgia Pacific in the US South: DeQuincy, LA (200 MMBF) to be restarted in the first half 2022, Bay Springs, MS (140 MMBF), and Fayette, AL (160 MMBF). The acquisition of these three sawmills plus a sawmill in Philomath, OR were cash purchases for $372 MM (including working capital). Interfor plans to invest up to $8 million to revive the DeQuincy sawmill curtailed by Georgia Pacific in May 2020.
  • Hunt Forest Products and Tolko Industries
    In July 2021, Hunt Forest Products and Tolko Industries announced a project to build a 320 MMBF sawmill in Taylor, Louisiana ($240 MM). Construction of the new facility is expected to start in early 2022, with commercial operations starting in early 2023.
  • Roseburg and Canfor US South
    Also in July, Roseburg announced a $200 MM investment to build a 400 MMBF sawmill in Weldon, NC., and Canfor US South announced a 250 MMBF greenfield sawmill near DeRidder, Louisiana ($160 MM) with startup projected in late 2022. Since 2013, Canfor US South has had over 300% growth.
  • Georgia-Pacific
    September 2021, Georgia-Pacific announced the modernization of its lumber complex in Pineland, Texas with a $120 million investment. Construction is expected to begin early 2022 and is scheduled to be completed in late 2022. Currently the mill has the capacity to produce 380 MBF of dimensional lumber each year, but when the new mill is operational and running at full capacity the production will increase to 450 MBF.
  • West Fraser
    October 2021, West Fraser entered into an agreement to acquire Angelina Forest Products lumber mill located in Lufkin, Texas for approximately $300 million (financed with cash on hand). This sawmill began construction in 2018, commenced operations in late 2019, and is expected to progress toward full production capacity of approximately 305 MBF over the next three to four years.

The industry knows that the US needs to add about 1.5 million new homes per year to keep pace with population growth and replace existing homes. Forecasters indicate that lumber capacity in North America will fall short of new demand by close to 7 BBF which is equivalent to more than 20 large-capacity sawmills. At Crow Engineering we are currently involved in many mill assessments, modernizations, and capacity expansion projects. With more than 50 years of experience, it is Crow’s  honor and privilege to serve mills and lumber companies. Contact us if your company is planning to take advantage of the current market. We would love to help you make the right decision and achieve your goals.

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