The sixth Panel & Engineered Lumber International Conference & Expo (PELICE) will celebrate its 10-year history as part of the event to be held April 13-14, 2018 in the Grand Ballroom North of the Omni Hotel at CNN Center in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Held every other year, and hosted by Panel World magazine, the first PELICE took place in 2008. All of them have been held at the Omni Hotel, though participants will remember the first one in 2008 occurring on three levels of the hotel, before the event settled into the Grand Ballroom North in ensuing years.

“It was not the best of times,” comments Rich Donnell, co-chairman of PELICE and editor-in-chief of Panel World magazine. “In fact, it was the worst of times as the Great Recession began hitting its stride.” But Donnell notes that the producer and supplier segments of the industry showed up to the support the event nonetheless.

“PELICE remains unique in that it brings together the structural and non-structural industries,” Donnell says. “When the conference ends I think people leave with a real feel for the big picture, in addition to accumulating the information they need to make improvements to their operations.”

Donnell expects PELICE 2018 to represent the positive momentum of the building products industry. “We continue to look at 1.2 million housing starts or so in the U.S., but there remains that untapped potential to get to that 1.5 or higher mark.”

What it’s going to take to make that happen will be one of the points addressed by Roger Tutterow, professor of economics and director of the Econometric Center at Kennesaw State University. Tutterow, who last spoke at PELICE in 2014, is highly regarded for his financial expertise, economic forecasts and statistical modeling because of their pinpoint accuracy.

“He also brings a lot of energy and humor to his presentations,” Donnell adds. “We feel very fortunate to be able to have him on our program.”

As it was at PELICE in 2016, the subject of ongoing mill projects will continue to be a theme of PELICE 2018. One of the keynoters who will address his company’s recently announced project is Grady Mulbery, president and CEO of Roseburg Forest Products.

Roseburg, based in Oregon, plans to build a laminated veneer lumber facility in Chester, SC. Groundbreaking is planned in early 2018 with operation startup in mid 2019. Roseburg is no stranger to LVL and engineered wood products, as it has been operating a large plant in Riddle, Ore. since 2001.

In addition to addressing ongoing projects, PELICE will look at recently completed projects, such as the new Swanson Group plywood mill in Springfield, Ore. and Winston Plywood & Veneer’s new plywood facility in Louisville, Miss., with representatives from those companies speaking about the evolvement of the projects, high points and low points, lessons learned, workforce practices and getting into post-startup.

PELICE will also address cross-laminated timber and mass plywood panel. While much of the CLT momentum has been generated in the Northwest, the announcement this summer by International Beams to build a CLT facility in Alabama brings the discussion into the southern pine belt. Representatives from International Beams will address the marketing potential of the southern pine CLT product as well as the manufacturing intricacies.

And while CLT has come on strong, Freres Lumber in Oregon is starting up a plant to manufacture an alternative product it calls Mass Plywood Panel. A representative from Freres will speak about their new manufacturing plant and further developments in the marketplace.

Addressing the big picture and potential of “Tall Wood Construction” in a keynote talk will be Bob Glowinski, president and CEO of American Wood Council. He’ll discuss what is being done to take it into the mainstream under U.S. building codes.

Speaking of alternative products, a representative from CalAg will speak about that company’s ongoing construction of a rice straw-based medium density fiberboard plant in Willows, Calif. “This herculean effort required 20 years of absolute never-say-die commitment from the principals involved,” Donnell comments.

Other PELICE sessions will address various aspects of panel production, including resins and adhesives, fire prevention, air emissions control, dry end technologies, quality control and others. The specific timeline agenda will be announced soon as presentation proposal continue to come in.

PELICE 2016 attracted 450 industry professionals including representatives from 32 wood products producer companies worldwide. They heard 50 presentations and viewed 80 equipment and technology exhibitor sponsors. Donnell says they’ve added several more exhibitor spaces for 2018.

PELICE exhibitors are broken into Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsorships. As of late September, Gold sponsors included B&W MEGTEC, Dieffenbacher USA, Hexion, Sandvik, Siempelkamp and Sigma Thermal-TSI.

Silver sponsors include Atlantic Combustion, Argos Solutions, Baumer Inspection, Biele, Brunette Machinery, Cogent Industrial Technologies, Con-Vey, Dustex Lundberg, Electronic Wood Systems, Georgia-Pacific Chemicals, Globe Machine, Grenzebach, IMA Schelling, IMAL-PAL, Limab North America, Matthewes Marking Systems, Meinan Machinery Works, MoistTech, NESTEC, Pallmann Industries, Player Design Inc., Process Combustion, SolaGen, SonicAire, Spraying Systems, SUGIMAT, Timber Products Inspection, Venango Machine/Custom Engineering, Westmill Industries, Willamette Valley Co.

Bronze sponsors include Automation Industries, CMA Engineerinig, Continental Conveyor, Flamex, Georgia Forestry Commission, GreCon, Hardwood Plywood & Veneer Assn., Mid-South Engineering, Process Sensors, Rodewisch, Steinemann Technology, TANN Corp., Wechsler Engineering and West Salem Machinery.

As usual, PELICE will be preceded by the fifth Wood Bioenergy Conference & Expo on April 11-12, and nearly half of the PELICE exhibitors also exhibit in the Wood Bio event as combo sponsors.