Resolute’s Vanessa Simard Uses Her AI Skills to Boost Operational Efficiency

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming the forest products industry, and Vanessa Simard, supervisor, Production Planning and Optimization, for our Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean (Quebec) operations is playing a key role in the shift.

Through academic research, Vanessa analyzed how this rapidly evolving technology can help manufacturing facilities run more efficiently. Vanessa has been putting her skills to use at Resolute for over ten years, collaborating with her colleagues to continuously improve productivity. 

The last few years have been pretty busy for Vanessa. Her work was published in multiple academic journals such as the International Journal of Production Research and the Journal of Data and Information Quality. She completed a PhD degree in Industrial Engineering at Université Laval in 2023. Her thesis, investigating technology’s potential to reduce the impact of uncertainty in the forestry supply chain through improved methods of data analysis, earned the 9th David Martell Student Paper Prize from the Canadian Operational Research Society. Last winter, she taught a course in advanced operational research at her alma mater and even presented her research at an event hosted by the Canadian chapter of Women in AI, an organization dedicated to increasing female participation in AI. Incredibly, she achieved these milestones while also starting a family! Her son was born in 2020, and her daughter in 2023 – just two months after she got her PhD. 

Beginning in 2013 with a research internship for her bachelor’s degree, Vanessa spent time at several Resolute operations in Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean, acquiring a wealth of knowledge about forest products operations and process planning. She implemented a number of improvements, including a program to save time for mechanics filling out their reports. And while pursuing her master’s degree between 2015 and 2017 and continuing her career with Resolute, Vanessa was instrumental in developing a major AI-based innovative solution that dramatically reduced the time required to plan the lumber drying process. The system was selected as a finalist for an Innovation Award from the Association pour le développement de la recherche et de l’innovation du Québec (ADRIQ). 

“Getting that ‘oh, wow!’ reaction from a colleague is a good feeling,” Vanessa says. “I observe how a task is done, collect data and analyze it from various angles. Then I come back and shake things up with new tools and processes. When a task that used to take two hours can now be done in two minutes, that’s rewarding.”  

Vanessa grew up in Quebec’s Magdalen Islands and now lives in Québec City with her family. When she’s not seeking new ways to improve processes at Resolute, she pursues her other favorite activities: knitting, playing piano and video games, drawing, reading and more. 

With her expertise, curiosity and problem-solving skills, Vanessa is a valuable asset to her colleagues and the company. We’re proud of her many accomplishments and her contributions to our team!

Source: The Resolute Blog