Norbord MDF circumnavigates the world – twice!

Production at Norbord’s MDF factory in Cowie, Scotland, reached a milestone this year when its total output for the previous 10 years reached the equivalent of twice around the world.

The plant was commissioned in 1999 to replace two existing production lines dating from the 1980s. Unlike its predecessors, which operated on a “multi-daylight” batching principle, the current MDF line is a continuous operation running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Around the middle of this year, the total cumulative volume of MDF produced on this line passed the three million cubic metres mark” explains Andrew Taylor, process and technology manager at Norbord Cowie. This volume equates to a cumulative lineal production of 80,770 km – more than twice the Earth’s equatorial circumference of 40,075 km.

The Cowie factory produces MDF in a variety of grades and in thicknesses from 6 mm to 35 mm. The bulk of its production is consumed within the UK where it is used extensively in the construction and furniture industries. In 1979, Cowie became the first factory to produce MDF in the UK and has remained a leader in product development and manufacture ever since.

Production of MDF at Cowie remains buoyant despite the economic downturn, reports Mr Taylor. “2009 was a tough year and production fell as a result of the recession. But the long-term trend is still towards increased output” he says.

Norbord Cowie currently produces around 1,000 cu m of MDF – equivalent of 44,000 18 mm boards – every day. “To give you an idea of what this looks like, if it these boards were stood end to end, they’d be five times higher than Mount Everest!” says Mr Taylor