20 October 2014


Garden statues of all kinds are very popular in Europe.  

A few weeks ago we went to a public garden nearby for a special gnome event.

I'm not really sure why this garden exists or who maintains it.  It was kind of strange . . . 

and kind of interesting.  There were plenty of shrubs like this one which someone obviously spent years creating and pruning.

This is a bench.

This is probably a globe - not sure if it's accurate.

The gnomes were scattered throughout the garden - these appear to be praying to this cross.

Well, it's obvious what these are doing and apparently it's directed at . . .

the "crisis".  In other words, the economic situation worldwide.

Translation:  She will not get us down.

More shrubbery art.  Pruning is also very popular in Europe.

They really are cute and . . .

and I can see why every garden needs one.

Kabouter - that's the Dutch word for gnome.

Garden gnomes originated in Germany and have been around for more than a couple hundred years.

The colors of the Belgian flag - hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil?

Some are truly works of art.

That's Jim and Ross in the huge basket in the center of the garden.

There.  That's better.

And here are our two adorable garden gnomes.

By Randi :)

16 October 2014

Norbord News II

Norbord Genk Family Day 2014

Every 5 years or so, Nobord Genk has a "Family Day" so all the employees can bring their family members for a plant tour.  The entire event is very well planned by the employees.  

This is one of two video screens that were showing "real time" OSB production.

In addition to the bounce house, there was face painting and some craft activities for the kids.

Food and drink for the employees and their family members.

There was even a photographer chronicling the event.

This is Alan (Jim's boss from Scotland), his wife Elaine, and their two children, Harry and Emma visiting with Ross.

Suited up in safety gear . . .

for the plant tour.

Just one of several areas full of logs ready for processing.

More logs - these are birch.

On the left is the flake storage and to the right is the debarker.

More logs! All those logs you see - one row - is enough for ONE day of production.

Those towers you can see in the background are power plants across the canal.

This is the high lift used for unloading wood from delivery trucks and for moving wood to the debarker infeed.

Getting started in the process - this is the debarker infeed.

This is bark that's sold and used for landscaping.

You can also see the Albert Canal in the background.  

This canal runs from the North Sea to Liege, passing through Genk - which, of course probably means nothing without a map . . .

You can see the North Sea on the left where BELGIUM is printed, then Antwerpen (north of Brussels) and follow the canal directly east towards Germany - there you can see Hasselt (where we live) and Genk (where Norbird is).

Here's an aerial view - that little "smoke stack" in the top center is Norbord.  About half of the wood delivered to the Genk plant comes by canal.  The rest comes by trucks - about 50 truckloads per day.

The pile of flakes on the left is called biomass and is used as fuel for the energy system.  In other words, burning wood byproducts for fuel.

Here's the "smoke stack", but it's actually over 95 % steam - not smoke!

This is the dryer where the wood flakes are mixed with 800 degree heated air to dry them.

This is the control room - about 50% of the process is controlled right here.

You can see the board is pretty thick before it's pressed - about 5 inches to be exact!  Notice I didn't confuse both of us with centimeters :)

Here is the board before it's pressed.  It comes out in one continuous sheet.

A better view of it.

These bins were out to show visitors some of the sizes of chipped wood that's pressed together to make the final product.  You can probably figure out what that says, but . . . translation:

middenlaag = middle layer
deklaag = top layer

Those are cooler turners and as the name implies, it's where the sheets of pressed board go to dry.

Close up

Here's where that continuous sheet of pressed board gets cut into specific lengths.

The magazijn - that's the Dutch word for warehouse.  

The whole plant was so pristine, I felt like I needed to go home and clean my own house so well!

An average of 25 trucks of around 15 bundles each leave the plant daily heading to Germany, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Austria and Belgium.

Jim and Ross on a super huge bucketloader!

A lot to be proud of :)