Change is inevitable in the business world. Companies need to be able to quickly and accurately make changes and adapt to changing markets, environments and competition.
Understanding your competitive position is highly important and failure to evaluate and adapt is not only one of the most significant barriers to growth, but it can also make a company insignificant in the global arena.
It is therefore critical to benchmark – to compare your performance against a practice standard established by a respectable organization.
In the pulp sector, major changes have been occurring in the past decade in kraft market pulp production and applications. In particular, production is moving to South America and Southeast Asia, while markets are shifting to Asia, with China now the world's largest producer and consumer of paper and board with a rated capacity of more than 110 million tonnes in 2011 and an annual growth rate of 5.5% for next 10 years. Northern bleached softwood kraft is increasingly used in specialty tissue and towel products, which are gradually replacing the more traditional printing and writing grades.
With all this transformation and a major market shift towards Asia and other emerging markets, significant advantages can be gained through benchmarking. Embracing this process should be an essential part of any business, especially because benchmarking is an embedded management practice used extensively in the management process among many of the world's best firms.
Therefore, to assist Canadian pulp manufacturers in competing more effectively in global markets, FPInnovations conducts benchmarking programs every five years to assess the quality of bleached kraft market pulps from major pulp-producing countries worldwide.
FPInnovations' goal is to develop comprehensive databases of mechanical, surface, and optical properties that would provide market pulp manufacturers with relevant information about the typical ranges of fibre and pulp attributes in order to allow the participants in these studies to benchmark their products against competitors' pulps.
Results of the 2013 benchmarking report has already been sent to participating companies and a report on the results of two previous benchmarking programs has now been released to the public. A total of 84 pulps – 50 softwood and 34 hardwood – from Eastern and Western Canada, Southeast USA, Scandinavia, Southern Europe, Russia, South America, Australasia, and South Africa were included in these programs.
The two-part report provides access to a wide databank of information, from an independent ISO-accredited laboratory, not available otherwise. Simply put, FPInnovations' benchmarking report will help pulp producers evaluate, test and adjust their products and businesses to a recognized high standard of achievement. Market pulp manufacturers will find it to be particularly valuable as ammunition for defending the quality of their pulps to prospective customers, and for positioning their products against competitors' pulps with respect to papermaking potential.
For market pulp customers, the report can be used as a decision-making tool and for assessing the quality of purchased pulp for a particular end-use application.