Request for Proposal
Status: RFP is Closed

Moisture Sensor for Unprocessed Logs

Request Number
Due Date
Sep 24, 2018
Program Manager


Technology licensing, Product acquisition, Contract for applied research, Proof of Concept leading to scale-up to manufacturing, Joint development, Supplier agreement


Opportunity to supply thousands of units to solid wood manufacturing facilities in North America


Phase 1 – Demonstration of proposed technology in 3 months

Phase 2 – Field trials within 6 months

Phase 3 – Full scale deployment within 12-18 months


All financials to be determined jointly with the client.

RFP was closed on
Oct 2018

RFP Title


Moisture Sensor for Unprocessed Logs
RFP Description

NineSigma, on behalf of a North American lumber consortium, invites proposals for innovative sensors and systems that can rapidly and accurately quantify the moisture found in the cambium layer area of logs being processed.


NineSigma’s client supports a significant amount of lumber producers in North America, providing wood and wood-based products across the globe.

Trees are comprised of several concentric rings of varying thickness and purpose – see image below:


 In order for a log to be converted into a usable form, the outer layer of bark must be removed, usually by a ring debarker. This machine uses rapidly rotating knives to strip away the bark from the log. The amount of pressure applied to the arms with knives is held constant (using manual presets), but normally adjusted for seasons, tree species and/or moisture conditions of the logs.  The underlying cambium layer is responsible for the growth and development of the tree during its lifetime and adheres the outer bark to the wood beneath.

During processing, however, the cambium represents the dividing line between the unwanted bark and the desirable wood underneath. If the pressure is too low, the bark is not sufficiently removed. If the pressure is too high, the wood underneath is damaged. By accurately determining the moisture content of the cambium layer, lumber processing centers can intelligently adjust cutting blade pressure to avoid damaging the wood.


Anticipated Project Phases or Project Plan

Phase 1 – Demonstration of technology

  • Early 2019

Phase 2 – Field trials

  • NineSigma’s client will install technologies in two key facilities for production-scale evaluation

Phase 3 – Deployment

  • Successful technology deployed to all facilities


Criteria for Moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2

Client will consider for advancement an approach that meets performance criteria with acceptable economics and pathway to commercialization.

NineSigma’s client is a leader in solid wood processing innovation but is open to all technologies, regardless of previous usage. While commercially available technologies are preferred, the client is interested in all approaches, regardless of current state of readiness, provided a viable pathway to commercial production exists. For emerging technologies, the client is willing to support proof of concept trials potentially that can lead to commercial implementation .

Key Success Criteria

The successful technology will:

  • Detect moisture from cambium layer:
    • Directly (in % Moisture Content)
    • Indirectly (such as thickness or density of the cambium)
      • Must be able to correlate measurement obtained with moisture content
  • Determine value within 0.3 seconds
  • Be accurate within ± 5%
  • Operate reliably when exposed to:
    • Dust, debris
    • Vibration
    • Seasonal temperature variations (-40C to 50C)
  • Successfully scan wood moving from 150 to 500 lineal feet/minute
  • Be safe for operators
  • Be self-calibrating, if possible
  • Be reliable, repeatable, and rugged design

An ideal technology will be able to measure the moisture in the cambium area while the log is in motion, however the client is open to technologies that would require the log to remain in a fixed position for the duration of the scan.

Possible Approaches

Possible approaches might include, but are not limited to:

  • Novel sensors adapted from other industries such as:
    • Aerospace
    • Agriculture
    • Archaeology
    • Art Restoration and Antiquities
    • Construction
    • Cosmetics
    • Food Production
    • Healthcare
    • Pharmaceuticals
  • Next generation sensors developed for the solid wood processing industry (ex. Sawmills)
  • Contact and non-contact testing and examination technologies
Approaches not of Interest

The following approaches are not of interest:

  • Technologies that cannot meet:
    • Speed requirement
    • Accuracy requirement
  • Technologies that require special certification to operate, such as some x-ray systems
  • Technologies that return an average value rather than a single data point
Items to be Submitted

Your response should address the following:

  • Non-confidential description of proposed technology and working principle
  • Availability of technical data including:
    • Speed of measurement
    • Accuracy of measurement
    • Operational temperature range
    • Number of operators required
    • Safety considerations for operators
    • Resistance to environmental disturbances
  • Technical maturity of the approach (concept, reduced to practice, prototype, ready to commercialize, ready to implement, commercialized)
    • Pathway to commercial scale including timing, estimated budget, and capacity for manufacture
  • Estimated unit cost of technology
  • Position on intellectual property including patent references
  • Desired relationship with sponsor
  • Team description and related experience

Appropriate responses to this Request

Responses from companies (small to large), consultants, entrepreneurs, or inventors are welcome.  For example:

You represent a company or university that has demonstrated a proof of concept.

You represent a company or university that has reduced method to practice at lab scale.

You represent a company or university that has developed a method for use at pilot scale.

You represent a company or university that has demonstrated a method ready for implementation at industrial scale.

You represent a technology transfer agency that represents an inventor or technology holder who can demonstrate an approach to address the request.

You represent a university research department that has a bench-scale demonstration ready to adapt.

You represent a university research department that has an undeveloped pathway with a high probability of success.

Preferred Collaboration Types
Area of Interest