Optimism, patience and curiosity, three adjectives which adequately describe the vision of the new Chairman of PAPTAC.
'Paper Advance' met Daniel Archambault, who has been involved in the P&P industry for about 35 years. Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Industrial Products Division, he considers that after a difficult decade for all the actors involved in the industry, the future may finally be better.
A series of consolidations and the arrival of sustainable business practices help predict promising business opportunities the industry in the future. As a graduate of the University of Sherbrooke in Chemical Engineering, Daniel Archambault speaks as an engineer when he affirms to observe an improvement in operational efficiency across the entire sector. An efficiency that arises largely from the latest scientific and technological innovations.
Kruger - Mill in Brompton
Solutions from a scientific point of view
Thinking about the world stage and in particular the Canadian pulp and paper industry "we can affirm that it is an industry in the process of reinvention after the recession, an industry with a promising future as it invests seriously in research- & science-based solutions through networks like FIBRE or FPInnovations – to name some of the existing programs".
It is through such initiatives that the Canadian forest sector can meet the needs of its government partners and industry members. For an organization like Kruger, these networks become essential to facilitate the exchange between experts and to stimulate applied research. "This is exactly what makes it so interesting to be part of the Pulp and Paper Canada Technical Association of Canada (PAPTAC). These types of groups are essential to help coordinate and focus the energies of so many players", he said emphasizing the importance of research into new products and new processes to see the development in the processing and transforming activities of the fibre.
« An industry in the process of reinvention after the recession, an industry with a promising future as it invests seriously in research- & science-based solutions through networks like FIBRE or FPInnovations – to name some of the existing programs. »
Canada is still competitive at the worldwide level
Daniel Archambault retains that Canada has never lost its edge globally. This advantage comes from different perspectives. The first concerns the quality and quantity of the fibres and , in a hierarchy of benefits, the sustainable regeneration practices and the cost of energy, which is very competitive. It is important to mention that Canada has a skilled and qualified workforce supported by a good education system.
In terms of logistics, Canada has resources to export its products worldwide. Finally, the federal and provincial governments are investing heavily in research on processing technologies and support the industry that relies heavily to transform the fibre at competitive prices.
On the bioeconomics front: follow the course
The global demand for pulp, paper and timber remains, despite that the centres of economic growth have moved from the original sites. It is the reason why the growth of Canadian companies will depend on the increasingly exploitation of new market segments and on the operation of sophisticated products such as engineered wood, nanocrystalline cellulose or cellulose filaments. Daniel Archambault believes that the industry will take a turn focusing on the bioeconomy as a boat sailing after nightfall. "I'm thinking about the bioenergy, biofuels – and pyrolysis - or the organic and biochemical products".
Recent developments at Kruger
Among the most recent developments of the company, we noticed the expansion of the Kruger Mill in Memphis, Tennessee, which was funded in part by a loan from the 'Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec'. The new facility includes three paper machines and processing lines.
This expansion includes the installation of a new tissue paper machine. The objective of the investment is to increase the total capacity from 57 000 to 117 000 metric tons (toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, napkins).
There is also the exchange listing of some of the activities of the company ( KP Tissue Papers inc.). This company was created for the sole purpose of acquiring an interest in Kruger Products LP - manufacturer of paper products.
Respect for the environment: " One of our proudest aspects"
"We are working to reduce our environmental footprint for many years and we did it with the stroke of major investments in our plants". According to Daniel Archambault the entire industry adopted major changes in order to follow more severe environmental standards.
"Among our proudest accomplishments we must certainly mention the decrease of fossil fuel use in our activities". Kruger uses its own forest biomass and deploys considerable efforts in energy efficiency". Cogeneration plans are in place in many of our facilities". The role of Kruger Energy as a business unit of the company is to illustrate the expertise developed by Kruger in the field of renewable energy. Kruger Energy is the result of a diversification of the company. Its mandate is to grow in the field of green energy (hydro, wind, cogeneration, biomass and biogas) well before than supplying power to the facilities of other units. At the moment the autoconsumption is very useful to meet targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but the company is also focusing to sale the energy produced in its 34 production sites. In total, the installed capacity is over 520 MW.
"Like many players in the field, we think that the renewal of the workforce will be a major challenge for the next decade. This is for the sustainability of the industry, he said". The Forest Products Association of Canada foresees 60 000 new jobs by 2020. If the workforce is missing and the average age of workers in the industry is 50 years, in Mr. Daniel Archambault opinion, it will be important to retain the existing workforce and Kruger takes a variety of strategies to make sure to do it.
"Among the opportunities available in our company, there is the possibility to follow different career paths in all our divisions. This attracts candidates at a time when the jobs that last a lifetime are no longer available".
There is a big competition to attract qualified personnel in different areas of the country. The boom of oil sands attracts many workers, as well as the boosting of mining activities thanks to the development of the North. These industries require the provision of very similar workforce: project managers, engineers, skilled workers, etc.
« Like many players in the field, we think that the renewal of the workforce will be a major challenge for the next decade. This is for the sustainability of the industry. »
Diversification: the solution?
The recent expansion of Kruger allowed the company to achieve a balanced industrial diversification plan with the aim, inter alia, to spread the risk of recession on a wider range of products. The economic downturn has certainly been a challenge for Kruger, however, promoting the diversification, the company ensures its growth and helps to protect itself against future economic downturns. "Between 2009 and 2011 many companies have closed across the country, but Kruger is going relatively well compared to its competitors. The company is the only manufacturer of newsprint in Canada and one of the few existing in North America that did not need to put itself under the protection of the law to avoid bankruptcy.
"Of course, Kruger had to make choices, as for example reorganize the division of paper. Despite the inevitable downsizing of staff, the company feels proud to have met all its obligations towards its employees, such as severance pay and benefits.
« Between 2009 and 2011 many companies have closed across the country, but Kruger is going relatively well compared to its competitors. »
A chairmanship on a very special year
Flattered to have been chosen by PAPTAC to assume the position of Chairman for the year 2013, Daniel Archambault takes an important place during an important year. The next edition of PaperWeek Canada entitled "Innovation in Motion" will mark the centennial of the Annual Conference of the Canadian pulp and paper Industry.
For Daniel Archambault, PaperWeek Canada 2014 will be a turning point for the industry at the time where the bioeconomy develops and some changes occur. He recalled that the 2013 edition has really restored the prestigiouseness of the conference, which had also suffered from the economic situation. "After 2009, the Week of paper was almost gone, but in the last three or four years we have seen a real reestablishement of the event, last February we could really feel a new vitality on the floor".
The industry is repositioning itself on an innovation basis. Innovation in business practices and management as well as in technology and production processes. In this regard there is much to learn from other associations like PAPTAC, that are in other parts of the world Daniel Archambault believes. In his opinion, the industrial clusters of pulp and paper located in other major producing regions around the world, such as Europe and Japan, should continue to share their knowledge. "This is particularly interesting in terms of technology," said the engineer. He affirms that the main innovations made in paper making and cutting wood sectors come from research conducted by international scientific networks. Hopefully they will be present at PaperWeek.
« After 2009, the Week of paper was almost gone, but in the last three or four years we have seen a real reestablishment of the event, last February we could really feel a new vitality on the floor. »
For more information, visit: www.kruger.com