Each year at the Woodworking Industry Conference, the Wood Machinery Industry Association (WMIA) presents their Wooden Globe awards for achievements in the wood industry.
The 2014 Wooden Globe for Innovator of the Year went to Larry Combs, Sr. VP and GM of the Jack Daniel’s Cooperage, which makes 3,000 barrels a day for the Brown Forman distillery.
The Jack Daniel’s Cooperage is the one of the world’s largest producers of whiskey barrels. A subsidiary of Brown-Forman, the cooperage makes white oak barrels for maturing Jack Daniel’s, Early Times, Old Forester, and Woodford Reserve. Brown-Forman is the only major distiller in the world that owns and manufactures its own barrels.
“The project started over four years ago, over a glass of whiskey, on the rocks. . . Over the years, the conversation continued to grow, and when the demand for more barrels resulted in a new cooperage plant, innovation took place at Jack Daniel’s Cooperage. With the help of Michael Weinig, James L. Taylor, and Brown-Forman Engineering, we were able to build a better barrel, faster, more safely, and with less labor.”
Jack Daniels Cooperage reinvented its barrel manufacturing process at its new Alabama facilities utilizing two Weinig CNC stave jointers as well some Weinig P2400 planers.
The stave jointers have exceeded output expectations and produced geometrically correct staves which greatly contribute to the ease of raising a barrel. Jack Daniels expects to achieve further downstream benefits with the consistent quality of the finished product.
While some of the technology is proprietary, Combs showed a video called “Birth of a Barrel” (see below) and described the adoption of Weinig solid wood machining that allows the cooperage to produce annually 25 million 2½-inch barrel staves, cut to exact curvatures and angles, within tolerances required for the barrels, reducing waste. It replaced a traditional hand jointing method with integrated materials handling.
This article was excerpted from a www.woodworkingnetwork.com article that has since been moved or deleted.