advanced technologies and “zero waste” production

Holder of a BTS in forest management, Sébastien Renaud completed his training as a technician by preparing a professional license in the management and marketing of products from the forest sector. As a student, he envisaged a professional life mainly outside, in a forest site. This is the case for professions linked to the production of wood and the renewal of the forest. But at the end of his studies, he was given the opportunity to join a sawmill in Haute-Loire. Never mind, his love for wood as a material led him to accept the sacrifice of a professional life surrounded by nature. He then became manager of wood purchases, responsible for planning and production.

Passionate about this profession, Sébastien Renaud gave his career another dimension in 2019. He joined the Ducret family group and became manager of the Autunois Forest and sawing site in Autun, comprising 25 employees, specializing in the processing of Douglas fir which he deals with. annually no less than 50,000 cubic meters of logs.

Rigor and organization

Sébastien Renaud’s view of this sector of primary wood processing is highly informed. To transform a log into construction material, several steps follow one another. Debarking, cross-cutting, sawing, cutting, all these tasks are carried out by impressive robotic machines which are controlled by the line operator. “Hand tools are obviously no longer used in the sawmill. All the machines are digitally controlled and the work is therefore automated, explains Sébastien Renaud. It is therefore essential that the sawmill operator be rigorous, organized and methodical even if the machine interfaces are becoming more intuitive and user-friendly today. But there is another essential quality in the operator driver: his reliability. “Because of the strong impact that personal hazards can generate on a production line, this quality is obviously a priority. »

In France, few establishments provide training for careers in primary wood processing ( read elsewhere ). Failing to succeed in recruiting among the versatile workers who are trained there, the sawmills are moving towards related profiles. “From public works machinery driver to sawmill operator driver, some candidates operate the shift successfully,” emphasizes Sébastien Renaud. Similarly, lumberjacks, stevedores or silviculturists have a predisposition for sawmill trades. “We then complete the training internally. »

Sawmills at full speed

Today more than ever, many construction and heating sectors make extensive use of the primary wood processing sector. The sawmills are thus running at full speed. “The sawmill trades have completely entered modernity,” comments Sébastien Renaud. In addition to the almost complete automation of tasks, we ensure “zero waste” production. Thus, whether bark, shavings or sawdust, these by-products are valued in the fields of gardening or heating. And to conclude: “The sawmill trades are anything but routine and the size of the companies, mostly family-run, gives them a human dimension and closeness that are widely appreciated these days. »

Autun – Some information to apply well

The range of trades related to the work of this noble material that is wood is very wide. It extends from silviculture trades that relate to the management and development of forests to those of secondary wood processing performed by joiners, carpenters, cabinetmakers and other craftsmen. Between the two, we find the trades of the first transformation of wood, namely those of the sawmill. With Béatrice Sillion, adviser at Pôle emploi Autun, focus on jobs in the sawing sector, which is relatively unknown.

Which skills for which jobs?

“Debarking line operator, head sawyer, saw pilot, sorter, the incumbents of these workstations are all at the controls of numerically controlled machine tools. They must therefore have a good adaptability to the technology of these machines for which they receive prior training, of course. Managing such machines requires managing processes and therefore requires concentration. In addition, to perfectly manage certain situations, a certain versatility is welcome. »

What are the advantages and disadvantages of these professions?

“A job in a sawmill very often offers stability both in space and in time. It is therefore possible to project one’s life in a given territory on a long-term basis. A sawmill is a space open to the outside: the workshops are not closed but lead to the park supply and storage of finished products. In fact, the workers do not have the feeling of permanent confinement. The other side of the coin, they are subject to the rhythm of the seasons. Moreover, despite the use of appropriate equipment, noise can be an annoyance for those who are sensitive to it. »

What training?

“The few schools providing training in the sawmill sector are located in regions with large forest areas ( read elsewhere ). Severely sought after, the graduates who come out of it cannot satisfy all the offers. Sawmill bosses are therefore interested in profiles from the world of agriculture, forestry, and sometimes mechanics. For candidates for retraining corresponding to these profiles and wishing to try the experience of working in a sawmill, Pôle emploi offers the PMSP (work experience period) for a period of 8 to 15 days. It will allow them to confirm or refute their interest. »

Where can I find information about job vacancies?

“The site lists a good number of work opportunities in sawmills at national level, for all positions. The sawmills detail on their websites and their Facebook accounts the offers they offer. Specialized temporary employment agencies may also advertise such offers. Finally, the site of the forest-wood sector ( offers a job exchange for all forest and wood trades, including those of course in the sawmill activity. »

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