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Research Themes

Optimization of the forest value chain implies optimization of design, optimization of planning and optimization of execution. We can address three types of activities

  1. Strategic Design
  2. Tactical Planning
  3. Operational Control

Strategic design decisions establish and modify the resources available to the enterprise. Tactical planning involves plans for making the most effective use of the resources available. Enterprise level profit optimization and other measures of performance consistent with strategic goals is the focus of tactical planning. Operational control involves the detailed execution of schedules by all parts of the organization in such a way as to achieve the profit and performance goals established by the plans.

In developing a framework for the forest value chain, it is necessary to distinguish two levels of strategic design. The first of these is long-term strategic design. Sustainability of the forest resource requires very long-term perspectives and the managerial level is not just at the top corporate level but also necessarily involves government-level decision-making representing society’s interest in the forest. The long-term decisions that define forest harvest levels are affected not simply by the timber growth capabilities of the forest but also by the complex interaction of policies. At the national level, these can be seen in the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers Criteria and Indicators (CCFM C&I) for:

  1. Biological diversity
  2. Ecosystem condition and productivity
  3. Soil and water
  4. Role in global cycles including the carbon cycle
  5. Economic and social benefits
  6. Society’s responsibility

However, every province has its own legislation and policy framework.

Medium-term strategic design involves decisions that define the value chain logistics capacities. These strategic decisions involve physical facilities as well as the adoption of certain types of control strategies. The key distinction is that forest growth and regeneration plays only a limited role in this time frame.

Tactical planning involves making the resource allocation decisions that optimize performance of the enterprise within the constraints defined by the long- and medium-term strategic design.

Operational control involves the process that guarantees operational excellence in achieving or surpassing the production goals established in the tactical plans while keeping costs as low as possible.
The decisions process is divided following this hierarchical process. We will focus, however, on decisions that relate more specifically to the following objectives:

  1. Integrated forest and industry strategies for the modern bioeconomy (long term strategic level)
  2. Integrated value chains (mid-term strategic and tactical level)
  3. Optimized value chains (operation level)

Typically, supply chain analysis has emphasized operational excellence and it is appropriate to find ways of achieving good operational control even if the resources and the plans for the use of these resources are expected to change. Thus, the overall philosophy in this research program is to enable managers at each level of the hierarchy to make their own work as effective as possible; always improving continuously with an overall system/enterprise perspective. Thus, the program of research will address implementation issues concerning the three levels of integration:

  1. Robust strategies and policies implementation

  2. Systems and infrastructure implementation

  3. Operational excellence implementation

The aim is to integrate and optimize the value chain as a whole.  The research is organized around the following five themes:

Theme 1: Integrated Forest and Industry Strategies for the Modern Bioeconomy

Themes 2 & 3: Integrated Value Chain

Theme 4: Value Optimizing, Scheduling and Control

Theme 5: Knowledge Modeling and Sharing

The key thing that distinguishes the forest industry is that of divergent flows. In the Canadian forest industry, this is accentuated by the fact that we have the most diverse mix of commercial forest species of any country and that we begin with a diverse set of forest values that includes both timber and non-timber values. Thus for any product, we can see a chain linking it back to its original source in the forest; but looking forward from the forest there is a very complex network of value creation challenges and opportunities. Among these, the challenge of developing and sharing information that permits the identification and exploitation of the opportunities for collaboration, while at the same time minimizing the risks of such tight integration, where a market disruption in one part of this divergent network causes disruptions in the ability to source materials in other parts of the network. As we begin to develop more complex value networks linking the forest through to energy and chemicals, advanced fibre products and advanced wood products, we need to ensure that these networks achieve benefits of collaboration and integration without creating undue risks of supply disruption to one product sector due to market disruption in another sector.


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