Leading the World in Sustainable Timber Harvesting

Canada’s forest sector plays an essential role in our environmental, social and economic prosperity, employing over 180,000 Canadians and contributing $25.2B to Canada’s GDP in 2020.

Canada is proudly recognized as a global leader in sustainably produced forest products. Investment in breakthrough digital technologies helps our Canadian anchor companies such as Mosaic Forest Management and Canfor strengthen their global competitiveness and turn sustainability leadership and leading ESG performance into a long-term growth advantage.

“Mosaic joined as a founding member of the Digital Supercluster because we saw an opportunity to collaborate on innovation in a space we would not naturally attack ourselves. For a mid-sized Canadian company, grassroots research and development can be challenging. This is the ideal investment framework to de-risk our spend while accelerating our pursuit of new technologies that increase productivity and support more sustainable practices.”

– Jeff Zweig, CEO of Mosaic

Leading the world in sustainable timber harvesting

June 26, 2022

Mosaic and Canfor, working in partnership with Lim Geomatics, are building a first of its kind satellite-linked Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform to modernize the timber harvesting process in remote locations. Using a network of smart telemetry devices, data relating to machine operations is captured, communicated via satellite, and analyzed via a business intelligence platform. From a sustainability perspective, this powerful tool not only supports better decision-making, but ensures that critical environmental and cultural factors such as sensitive ecosystems, riparian areas, Indigenous cultural features, and wild-life zones (like bear dens and goshawk nests) within the harvest block are strictly respected and protected.

“Harvesting timber in a sustainable way requires a very high degree of planning accuracy and precision. This IIoT platform allows us to efficiently design harvest blocks with high confidence that critical factors such as wildlife, watershed, and cultural archeological features are protected.”

Investing in productivity and growth

Mosaic and Canfor also see the Forest Machine Connectivity project as an investment in productivity. The ability to measure productivity by operator, by machine and by specific land characteristics, such as terrain and tree sizes, means the companies can make smarter business decisions and establish fair benchmarks for thousands of operators and contractors in the context of the environment in which they operate.

“The technology we are building enables Mosaic to draw insights we did not have before. We understand machine performance across a variety of terrain on a highly granular basis. Our linked network of smart telemetry devices opens the door to two-way communications with our various machines and equipment, moving us one step closer to making autonomous harvesting a possibility.”

Strengthening the sustainability, efficiency and agility of supply chains

The benefits of this project are traced across the entire forestry supply chain. For Mosaic, sites are moving almost every two weeks, with dozens and dozens of crews. This wood is being delivered to over 50 different local mills, 8 sort yards and various export facilities on Vancouver Island and the mainland. The logistics of moving this timber are complex and on a scale that is hard to fathom. There is a enormous opportunity to increase productivity by gathering and stitching together data about trees harvested, what is available for hauling and what is ultimately delivered to customers.

With this IIoT platform, a new level of data detail will be collected – down to the individual tree level. Currently, the planners know “directionally” what is in a particular area – the species, the distribution, the diameter and the quality – but Mosaic is looking to accurately predict down to the individual stem.  This data translates into increased planning accuracy, optimized harvest processes, reduced timber costs and more competitive prices.

“Once trees are harvested, they currently get forwarded from the growing site to the side of the road as whole stems. They are then cut into logs and roughly sorted into piles based on species, diameter, and quality. At this point they are loaded onto trucks and delivered to sort yards, where they are measured and graded (a process called scaling). While you have intelligence on the logs, you have no idea what the individual tree looked like before it was cut into logs. Using IIOT in the block and at roadside, Mosaic can optimise its planning, supply chain management, and harvesting to get significantly more value from each tree. With the resulting data, we are effectively building a digital twin right down to the individual tree.”

Growing partnerships and exports  

Mosaic Forest Management and Canfor are also participating in the Asia Competence for Tech Professionals program focused on building leadership skills to help them increase exports and collaborate at a global level on green innovation and sustainability.

Through the Digital Supercluster, Mosaic has also created partnerships that extend well past this project. They are currently exploring how new technology components such as satellite communications and the data generated can be leveraged to improve other processes and activities across the Company.

Learn About the Forest Machine Connectivity Project