Common public impressions suggest that, Sibu is that dull and boring town, sitting by the unattractive milk-tea-colored muddy Rejang River, waiting for time to pass. The town might seemed so, but go further away, in the suburban forested areas, you’ll realize that this is not quite the case. There, you’ll see sawmills, timber yards, Malaysia plywood factories of ISO standards, bustling and producing hundreds and thousands of cubic meters of meranti plywood and timber products every month to feed the world’s hunger for wood.

If you need plywood or timber, please contact Arthur at arthur@asiaplywoodcompany.com

Sibu houses a handful of global timber conglomerates, namely the Rimbunan Hijau Group, Ta Ann Group, Sanyan Group, WTK, The Sarawak Company, and Asia Plywood Company just to name a few, among other big private owners of sawmills and timber concessions. They’re the timber export powerhouse and the primary driving force of Sibu’s economy.

ISO Standard Plywood Factories
One of the ISO standard plywood factories. At ground level, it doesn’t really tell the whole story of how big this facility is.

Aerial View of the factory
Take a look at the aerial view of the whole infrastructure. This satellite image was taken like more or less 10 years ago, when the Pulau Li Hua houses were still under construction. It had since expanded to maybe, double its size? Click to view larger size.

Labour Living Quarters
The living quarters for the factories’ laborers.

Factory
One of the plywood factories. They have more or less 50 of them likes this in this massive facility. Each of them responsible for the different stages of plywood manufacturing.

Inside the Factory
Inside the plywood factory. This is only part of the full factory. The complete size is about 10 times the size you’ll see in this photo.

Here’s a little bit about how plywoods are made.

Plywood are called plywood because they’re made up of several plies of very thin layers of wood we call “veneer sheets“. Veneer sheets are peeled off a timber log using a long knife running horizontally across the timber log. The timber log is initially softened with hot steam, and then mounted on an equipment to be peeled into continuous thin layers of veneer sheets. Think of it as a toilet roll. You’ll get the idea.

Veneers
The veneers. Readily cut into 4′ x 8′ for stacking.

The veneer sheets are very strong materials going in one single direction along its grains. Think of it as the squid fish straps you’ll eat during the Chinese New Year. You can easily pull it apart in one direction, and less easier on the other.

Joint-veneers
Layers of veneers. Strips of special glue are spread across the veneers straps to prevent them from stretched apart.

The veneers sheets are then stacked together, usually in 5, 7, 9, 11 or more layers (odd numbers), in alternating grain directions. Glue are applied in between the layers before going off to the compressor.

The compressor
This is what they would use to heat and compress the layers of veneers stack to form a rigid panel.

Compressor at work
Factory workers filling the compressor slots with one veneer stacks each.

Compressor at work

Plywood stacks
Stacks of completed plywood. Done and ready to be packed and exported.

12mm Plywood
This is a close-up of a 12mm plywood. 2 layers of soft veneers are stacked in between 3 layers of high quality hardwood veneers to form a solid and rigid plywood.

Plywood Grades
There are several grades of plywood available in the market. Grades being UT Better, BB/CC, UT1, UT2, and Reject.

Plywood checking
Plywood checking to confirm its quality. Showing off the UT Better grades plywoods with super smooth surface.

Not a defect. UT Better
This is still a UT Better grade plywood, as long as the surface is finely repaired and smooth.

Not a defect. UT Better grade.
Still, another UT Better grade plywood.

UT1. Side defects.
UT1 with defects on the sides.

UT2. Surface defects.
UT2 with surface defects.

Surface Defects. UT3 and below.
Another example of UT2 grades with surface defects.

Alright, there you have it. A day in the plywood factory and I hope you’ve learn something new today!

Thank you for reading.

If you need plywood or timber, please contact Arthur at arthur@asiaplywoodcompany.com