New Factory Transforming CLT Production

15th November, 2021

From the green forests of Galicia in North-western Spain comes Xilonor, the fruit of a five-year development by timber solutions manufacturer Finsa. This state-of the-art facility transforms locally sourced wood into premium quality cross laminated timber (CLT) – arriving via a direct shipping route to the UK.

With a range of innovative materials already developed for timber construction, 2018 saw the company strengthen its commitment to the sector with a multi-million-euro investment to commission the first CLT factory in the region. To hit the ground running, Xilonor collaborated with manufacturers to design a production line specifically adapted to the characteristics of local Radiata and Pinaster Pine. The vast bank of experience within the Finsa Group acquired over decades of timber processing also proved an invaluable resource, and this partnership led to the creation of a truly unique manufacturing plant.

At the heart of the factory lies a multi-Axis hydraulic press, with a maximum force exceeding any conventional CLT plant allowing for the possibility of future diversification. Lateral pistons direct pressure to all four edges, eliminating gaps, enhancing the structural integrity of the panels, and increasing airtightness. This also improves the visual characteristics of the finished CLT.

Digitally controlled temperature and humidity ensures all timber is maintained at an optimum 12% moisture content from storage through to production. Lamellas are classified with ultrasonic scanners to separate raw stock before being fed into the finger jointer where full-length strips are formed. From here, the panel layers are assembled and pass through to the automated glue line. Once pressed, master panels are cut, routed, and drilled on a giant CNC bed to create the various parts of the project as specified by the customer. This includes wall, floor, and roof elements, as well as any stairs or other components as required, produced with high precision meaning quick and simple onsite assembly.

With the first panels successfully produced earlier this year, production capacity is ramping up and on track for a maximum annual volume of 30,000m3 within the first twelve months. Plans to expand the line will allow a further 16,000m3 to be produced in year two for a total production of 46,000m3 of CLT per annum.  

Situated amidst an abundance of Radiata and Pinaster Pine forests, the Xilonor factory is strategically placed to transport CLT by vessel directly into the port of Birkenhead, where timber materials have been distributed nationwide for over 30 years courtesy of Finsa UK.

The Xilonor team is composed of a dynamic group of individuals with a variety of backgrounds in timber engineering, construction, and architecture. Sen Perez, based in Birkenhead at the UK office, has been working with architects, engineers, and installers across the UK to introduce the company. With a background in the timber industry, he provides a direct link between the Xilonor factory in Spain and the UK market.

“I’ve worked with offsite developers, architects and engineers for some time now, sharing knowledge, and bringing timber solutions to a range of clients across the UK,” says Sen. “My role at Xilonor is to help companies and individuals understand exactly what can be achieved with CLT, and to form the bridge between the factory and our UK partners to ensure projects are delivered as expected.

“This is an exciting time to be entering the mass timber world, and with the first UK build already installed in Scotland, I look forward to seeing many more projects come to life. I’m excited to work with a material that builds upon, and enhances, the natural properties of timber and is so widely appreciated by all who experience it.” 

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