“Industrial Wood Pellet Manufacturing: 10-Year Report Card” and how lessons learned are being addressed and implemented today will be one of the major discussions at the upcoming Wood Bioenergy Conference & Expo to be held April 11-12 at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

The “10-year” reference stems from the startup of the first large scale industrial wood pellet plant in the U.S. in 2008—Fram Renewable Fuels. About 20 such plants are in operation today in the U.S. South.

Harold Arnold, president of Fram Renewable Fuels, will speak on “Fram: Ten Years Running. What We’ve Learned Moving Forward.” He’ll note how his company has made a couple of wide turns in its business plan and markets. “We’ve learned this is one of the most complicated businesses in the forest products industry,” Arnold says. “Not one to be entered into lightly.”

Malcolm Swanson, president of Astec, Inc., the modular wood pellet plant supplier, will speak on “Lessons Learned in Two Major Pellet Plant Startups.” “It is a difficult business and not for the faint-of-heart,” Swanson says. “There is an endless supply of challenges. This make it all the more valuable and wise for those seeking to enter the pellet making business to lean on the experiences of others.”

Bijan Shams, president of Cogent Industrial Technologies, will talk about the “Greater Emphasis on Safety: New and Existing Plants Are Calling for It.” Shams and his team have noticed increasing emphasis from existing and new pellet plants on improving operational safety, and incorporating the latest safety technologies, especially as insurance companies do their risk evaluations.

Eric Estes, project manager, Mid-South Engineering, will speak on “More Consideration for Wood Yards,” and address how the lack of consideration for wood yards during design has come back to haunt some mills with operational problems and expensive modifications. Increased automation may be one of the solutions.

The conference features two dozen speakers and 60 exhibitor companies in the Grand Ballroom North at the Omni Hotel.