Supply chains have evolved significantly over the years, and they are now on the verge of even more transformative changes driven by the digital revolution. This new momentum could benefit the Canadian forestry industry.
Our expert, Mathieu Leblanc, spoke with Francis Charette, from FPInnovations, about the Forestry 4.0 initiative to bring the forestry industry up to speed with the new revolution.
How does the Industry 4.0 concept apply to forestry?
The fourth industrial revolution, as it is called, is characterized by an interconnection of machines and systems within the production sites as well as between them and the outside world, to optimize decision making for each piece of equipment, simultaneously, for the overall supply chain.
Information collection and transmission have progressed to the point where it is now common to exchange data in real time from anywhere in the world. In Canada, the resource sector is facing an enormous technological challenge. To continue as a major player in the global network, it must adapt, for example, by further developing its data collection and transmission system.
Which explains the need for a project such as Forestry 4.0?
Exactly. FPInnovations has launched Forestry 4.0, an initiative aimed at enabling the upstream part of the forest value chain in Canada to fully leverage the agility and power of the fourth industrial revolutions.
You have identified four themes for this initiative. What are they?
The first is analyzing the real environment of production. Receiving real-time information on resources makes it possible to dynamically adjust the supply chain to processes based on market demand. Data may be collected through remote sensing, satellites, drones or aircraft, imagery and LiDAR 3D cloud points, infrared cameras, high resolution camera etc. The second theme is the connected forest.
You’re referring to the connectivity of various machines?
Yes, it’s the Internet of forest, which is a collaborative system based on real-time communication between machinery, infrastructures and digital devices to control operations, even remotely. Production can be quickly adjusted to conditions and needs with optimized communication. The biggest challenge at this time is communicating in remote areas, since only 45% of Canadian forests have cellular coverage. Because of the high cost of satellite communication, we are testing various technical ways to extend cell coverage to our operations.
What else can be done to adapt the procurement system?
The third component of Forestry 4.0 is advanced procurement systems to meet clients’ specific needs on demand. We are currently facing a major shortage of workers and machine operators which will likely grow. The production chain must be updated using the latest technological developments, such as sensors, augmented reality devices, more autonomous intelligent transportation systems (self-driving vehicles). The aim is to make the forestry sector more appealing to the next generation of workers while relying on automation of equipment to reduce resource needs.
What is the fourth theme?
Data analytics. It’s essential that decision making throughout the supply chain be aligned to optimize the value to be derived from forestry resources. Using advanced simulations (data twins) and artificial intelligence and decision-support tools will enhance our agility and adapt production to meet market needs.
By launching the Forestry 4.0 initiative, FPInnovations hopes to align the forestry industry with the cyber revolution to respond more effectively to market changes.