Mercer Rosenthal operator watches train as it approaches the pulp mill

Recognizing Our Core Values through the FPAC Awards

Innovation and continuous improvement are core values in Mercer. When we speak about innovation, we don’t exclusively mean product innovation; more often, we’re referring to process innovation and creative strategies to better our performance and further set ourselves as an industry leader.

As we prepare and patiently wait to share the results of our 2020 FPAC Award nominations, we think back on our 2019 success. On May 9 of 2019, our Vice President of Corporate Development, Brian Merwin, was awarded the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) Innovation Award at FPAC’s annual Awards of Excellence luncheon. The Innovation Award is “presented to a leader and visionary who demonstrates a commitment to environmental leadership and sustainable forest management practices.” In the competitive world of pulp, it takes collaboration to be innovative. At Mercer Celgar, Brian Merwin and his Corporate Development team identified transportation as a barrier and therefore an opportunity to enhance Mercer’s competitiveness.

Mercer Celgar had experienced ongoing issues with rail car deliveries for shipping its pulp to Vancouver. After review, the team found that trucking was the only feasible alternative to rail; however, the current truck carriers lacked the required multi-axel units needed to haul pulp out of the Kootenays, which is not on a main trucking corridor. Undeterred, the team honed their focus on a simple fact: the chip trailers that arrived at Celgar were multi-axel and traveled to the mill with full trailers﹘but left the mill empty.

Taking this fact and applying more research, Brian and the team realized that the truck trailers were empty for 50% of their trip if they were hauling pulp directly to the port in Vancouver. There was an opportunity to be had: create a vehicle design that simultaneously allowed for the maximization of hauling low-bulk density chips, top-loaded chips, and clean bales of finished pulp. After two years of collaborating with a trucking carrier and trailer manufacturer, Mercer developed the B-Train Trailer.

The B-Train Trailer allows for a fork truck to enter the first unit by driving through a unique door and bridge system between the two trailers, which is also capable of flow-through chip dumping. This closed-loop system solved logistical issues by creating a cost-competitive, reliable answer to rail car limitations: one truck, one trailer, two functions. The trailer design led to collaboration with the rest of the industry in BC, with the Mercer team leading the development and design of the BC Next Generation Chip Hauler, a 10 axle B-train capable of hauling up to 35% more chips than current chip haulers. The new vehicle is currently awaiting BC regulatory approval.

Upon receiving the Innovation Award, Brian was humbled. “It is great to receive recognition for my team’s contribution to innovation, especially considering how much innovation is occurring across our industry,” said Merwin. “Innovation happens through collaboration, open-mindedness, and a drive to evolve. This award recognizes innovation’s importance to our industry as our global competitiveness depends upon it. On behalf of my team at Mercer Celgar, thank you.”

As we celebrate our fantastic team members and prepare to announce our recipients of the 2020 FPAC Awards, this award is still of great importance to us at Mercer as it reflects just a fraction of the innovation that occurs within our teams. Each of our locations strives to be world-class in their initiatives, bettering our processes, and furthering our name as a leader. What other innovative projects have taken place at Mercer?

  • Our Friesau sawmill, home to Mercer Timber Products, is nearing completion of its latest comprehensive investments, which will further develop the mill into a world-class asset with state-of-the-art technology, as well as meet Mercer’s high standards for workplace safety.
  • Mercer Holz includes the procurement of sawlogs and pulpwood that come from sustainably managed forests and are procured with our goal towards full-cycle utilization.
  • Speaking of, we have designed and built custom machinery used by our Canadian mills with the ability to enter a harvest site to recover the material left behind for slash piles and/or be burnt. We strive to leave no resource wasted and to utilize it to its best potential.
  • With a few isolated exceptions, our mills are fully electric. They also utilize a combined heat-power process, using the energy potential contained in our raw materials and producing an excess of green energy to assist in powering operations.
  • Mercer Celgar’s power is certified as “renewable low-impact” under EcoLogo’s certification system, powering not only their operations but has the ability to power operations in their community of Castlegar.

These initiatives are but just a few examples of the innovation our exceptional Mercer team members carry with them day-to-day. We’re constantly looking for ways to better our processes as we create bioproducts for a more sustainable world. As we move into National Forest Week, we celebrate the innovation of our team members and are proud to be recognized by the industry for the work that we do.

“At Mercer, our core values emphasize boldness, trust, and the pursuit of excellence. All of us at Mercer are proud of Brian and his team, which includes colleagues in industry and government for their creativity and determination. They embraced an idea and brought it to fruition with strong leadership and teamwork. At Mercer, we appreciate that their spirit of collaboration made a big difference.”

-David Gandossi, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Mercer International Inc.