Canada’s leading tissue manufacturer, Kruger Products L.P., today announced a $25M investment at its new Sherbrooke Tissue Plant to implement a digital twin of its supply chain, using real-time data augmented with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to boost operational efficiency and agility.
Backed by Canada’s AI supercluster, Scale AI, with financial support from the governments of Canada and Québec, the project was announced at a press conference held today in the presence of the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food and MP for Compton-Stanstead, and Élisabeth Brière, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and MP for Sherbrooke, both representing the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, as well as Geneviève Hébert, Deputy Government Whip and MNA for Saint-François, Steve Lussier, Mayor of Sherbrooke, Nicole Bergeron, Chair of the City of Sherbrooke’s Executive Committee and Councillor for the Brompton Borough, Julien Billot, CEO of Scale AI, and Patrice Bégin, General Manager of the Kruger Products’ Sherbrooke Plant.
Commissioned successfully in February of this year, the Sherbrooke Plant is a state-of-the-art facility equipped with Canada’s largest and most advanced through-air-dry (TAD) tissue machine which is supported by AI-ready systems and infrastructure. The $25M investment announced today will enable Kruger Products to leverage AI to optimize its entire supply chain, from the procurement of raw materials all the way to customer delivery.
This cutting edge project will pave the way for a future roll out across Kruger Products’ entire manufacturing infrastructure. Through Scale AI, the Canadian Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry is making a direct contribution of $5.6M and the Québec Ministry of Economy and Innovation is investing $1.1M in the project, for a total contribution of $6.7M. The project involves partners such as Osedea, Dataperformers and BCG, and the participation of researchers from Polytechnique Montréal and Laval University.
“After investing $575M to build the most advanced tissue plant in Canada, Kruger Products is proud to push innovation even further with this $25M groundbreaking AI project, bringing total investments to $600M for this state-of-the-art plant. Using AI to boost efficiency will also improve our overall performance in terms of sustainability and help us serve our customers and consumers even more efficiently,” said Dino Bianco, CEO of Kruger Products L.P. “Thanks to the vision of our partners and to the support we received from the Canadian and Québec governments, our Sherbrooke Tissue Plant will encourage more innovative practices in our industry.”
“Canada’s Scale AI Supercluster is accelerating the adoption of advanced artificial intelligence to help companies emerge as global leaders,” said the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food. “We are seeing first-hand how Canada’s leadership in AI is having a positive impact on our economic recovery across sectors. Scale AI is connecting large corporations, innovative start-ups and researchers to shape a more competitive supply chain that leverages AI solutions and creates good jobs for Canadians.”
“Artificial intelligence is transforming the way people live, work and conduct business. Scale AI is leveraging this competitive advantage by advancing innovative and collaborative projects, such as those we announced today, to create a more resilient supply chain while strengthening Canada’s position as a global leader in artificial intelligence,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “I am pleased to see Scale AI supporting companies looking to take advantage of this new technology in a responsible way and for the benefit of Canadians.”
“It is great to see so many partners from all across the country come together under the leadership of Scale AI for the benefit of Canadians from coast to coast to coast,” said Élisabeth Brière, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. “We see with the projects announced today that artificial intelligence is not just for big urban centres; it can also be embraced by companies of all sizes in all sectors of the economy.”
“Today’s announcement confirms the merits of the Scale AI supercluster, for which the Québec government announced, in 2018, investments of $60M over five years. Our goal is to promote the use of artificial intelligence to optimize supply chains in all activity sectors. For Kruger Products, this project represents an opportunity to become a global reference in the adoption of artificial intelligence in the pulp and paper industry. For Québec, it is an additional asset to become a leader in this cutting-edge sector, where our researchers have already excelled for many years,” added Ms. Geneviève Hébert, Deputy Government Whip and MNA for Saint-François.
“Kruger Products’ innovative and ambitious project to integrate AI into the operations and supply chain of its Sherbrooke plant is a great testament to the technological transformation under way in Québec and Canada. We feel that more and more companies understand the positive impact of AI on their productivity, ensuring their competitiveness and long-term growth,” said Julien Billot, CEO of Scale AI. “In this context, our investments are helping to break down barriers that could slow down the adoption of AI in Canada and to accelerate the return to sustainable growth.”
Optimizing the supply chain with AI
The digital twin project consists in developing a virtual model of the plant’s entire supply chain and using real-time data augmented with predictive and prescriptive AI capabilities to improve the Plant’s overall performance. The use of AI will result in improvements across the supply chain, from raw material procurement, to production planning, equipment maintenance, logistics and risk management. Other benefits include a better environmental footprint thanks to lower GHG emissions, increased energy efficiency and reduced waste. Leveraging AI will also benefit suppliers, partners and customers by increasing product quality, availability and competitiveness in the market.
Pioneering the digital transformation of the pulp & paper industry
With innovation at the core of their business model and corporate values, Kruger Products and its parent company, Kruger Inc., have been at the forefront of the transformation of the pulp and paper industry in Canada. Implementing groundbreaking AI capabilities is yet another way for Kruger to lead innovation by contributing to the development of skills, knowledge and expertise in the field, which will benefit the entire industry by promoting its digital transformation.
About Kruger Products L.P. (KPLP)
KPLP is Canada’s leading manufacturer of quality tissue products for household, industrial and commercial use. KPLP serves the Canadian consumer market with such well-known brands as Cashmere®, Purex®, SpongeTowels®, Scotties®’ and White Swan®. In the U.S., KPLP manufactures the White Cloud® brand, as well as many private label products. The Away-From-Home division manufactures and distributes highquality, cost-effective product solutions to a wide range of commercial and public entities. KPLP has approximately 2,700 employees and operates nine FSC® COC-certified (FSC® C-104904) production facilities in North America. (www.krugerproducts.ca)
A fourth-generation family company founded in Canada in 1904, Kruger Inc. is a major producer of tissue products; 100% recycled containerboard; corrugated packaging; publication papers; specialty papers; renewable energy; cellulosic biomaterials; and wines and spirits. In addition to having a portfolio of more than 40 green energy power plants with a combined installed capacity of 540 MW, the Company is a leader in paper and paperboard recycling in North America. Kruger Inc. has facilities in Québec, Ontario, British Columbia, and Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as in Tennessee, Maine, New York, Virginia, North Carolina and Rhode Island in the United States. (www.kruger.com).