You might expect that the state that produces the country’s largest amount of softwood timber would also host leaders in the chainsaw industry. One of those firms, Blount International in Portland, has increased its focus on new approaches to power systems, production efficiency and consumer safety. As partners in Oregon State’s Advantage program, the company is working with OSU researchers to advance the state of the art in saw technologies for agriculture, construction and landscaping in addition to forestry.
“We are pursuing multiple projects with OSU researchers,” says Jamie Munn, R&D engineering manager with Blount, which sells products in 115 countries. “We’ll see practical outcomes that we can develop as prototypes and integrate into our product lines.”
Blount’s production process will be the focus of a holistic study to determine how to incorporate environment, safety and health into product costing methods. The project is led by Karl Haapala and Javier Calvo in the School of Mechanical, Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (MIME) and Anthony Veltri in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences.
Julia Zhang in OSU’s School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science will apply her expertise in electrical power systems to the practical challenges presented by outdoor power equipment. By participating in product design reviews, she will gain insights into problems that can be tackled in her research.
In John Parmigiani’s lab in MIME, a new apparatus is enabling researchers to push the boundaries of what chainsaws can do. Since one of two new testing machines that Parmigiani designed and built is located at Blount in Portland, complementary tests can be run in both locations.
Parmigiani and his students have tackled product development questions with Blount through the state-funded Oregon Metals Initiative, and now the company has supported projects in his lab with a six-year agreement.
Blount’s work with OSU goes beyond product testing and research. The company also provides supplies (saw, chains) for Oregon State’s student-based logging crew. In turn, Blount employees go into the field with OSU woodcutters to see how their products perform first hand.
To implement the outcomes of research projects, Blount is working with the OSU Research Office to develop a “pre-paid” arrangement for intellectual property.