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Value Added Focus Woodtech Show

Value added will continue to be a strong focus at this year's Woodtech 2000 show in Vancouver

By Tony Kryzanowski

ue to popular demand, one of Canada's premier wood processing shows and conferences- Woodtech 2000-will make a return to the bright lights of downtown Vancouver's BC Place Stadium on September 20 to 22. This biennial show and conference is taking place at a time when the country's wood processing industry is eager to look at new opportunities. The forest industry seems to be looking forward now, rather than looking back. No one will really miss the turbulent times faced by the industry as a whole in the 1990s, but it was probably necessary. Many now feel that Canada's forest and wood processing industries are headed in a new and exciting direction. "The industry does seem to be a little more buoyant," says show manager Simon Rose. 

One reason he gives for this more positive attitude is that over the past two years many industry suppliers have become much more geographically diversified as a result of changing patterns, particularly in BC's forest industry. Market globalization has been another factor. Many suppliers have developed export markets for both equipment and expertise, thereby reducing their dependence on any one forestry market. In Western Canada, there have been significant expansions in the wood-processing arena. Saskatchewan, for example, recently announced a major reallocation of its forest resource. 

The Woodtech 2000 show will include many of the industry's leading suppliers as exhibitors. In addition, the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing will be hosting a number of seminars which will include topics such as cabinetmaking and marketing opportunities for wood products

This has spawned a number of forestry projects, including an OSB plant in Hudson Bay being built by Weyerhaeuser, the Wapawekka sawmill built as a joint venture in Prince Albert by Weyerhaeuser and the Carrier sawmill, also located in Prince Albert. 

While suppliers may be casting their business nets further, value-added is still a topic of great interest for Canadian wood processors and governments. In Alberta, for example, Ainsworth Lumber has announced plans to construct a new hardwood sawmill in Fox Creek - using birch as its fibre resource - and a major  expansion of their OSB plant in Grande Prairie. To the east, Saskatchewan has identified the need to pursue value-added opportunities as a primary objective within its expansion plans. Value added continues to be a major focus of Woodtech 2000, picking up where the 1998 show left off. 

To that end, a third important participant has been added to the conference program. The University of BC's Centre for Advanced Wood Processing (CAWP), Canada's national education and research centre dedicated to the wood products manufacturing industry, will be hosting a number of seminars. Among the topics CAWP representatives will cover are wood drying, quality control, veneering, wood finishing, marketing opportunities, preventative maintenance, tooling developments and European cabinetmaking. CAWP is a nonprofit organization that draws on world renowned academic and scientific experts at UBC's Department of Wood Science. 

It also employs leading specialists in wood products manufacturing technology. Its focus is on five key areas. The first is to provide a full, five-year undergraduate degree program in Wood Products Processing in cooperation with UBC's Department of Wood Science. A 19 month student placement program is part of the curriculum. Secondly, it develops and provides continuing education short courses, workshops, certificate programs and seminars on topics related to value-added manufacturing. 

Thirdly, it conducts applied research and development projects sponsored by industry and provides industry with technical support and consulting services. Finally, it is developing masters and doctorate programs for the advanced wood products manufacturing sector. Rose says Woodtech conferences have had the participation of a number of UBC wood processing experts in the past, but organizers felt it was appropriate at this time to approach CAWP to become a full fledged sponsoring organization. The CAWP seminars are in addition to the Second Biennial BC Wood Forum that is being hosted at the show by the BC Wood Specialties Group. 

Founded in 1989, this member based trade association for British Columbia's value-added wood products industry will be hosting a number of seminars highlighting the latest technological trends in the industry. Among the topics they will cover will be selective sawing for value added, maximizing the productivity of finger jointers, moulder set up and operation, as well as gluing problems and solutions. The BC Wood Specialties Group represents over 700 wood products manufacturers with combined annual sales exceeding $3.9 billion. It currently has field offices in Tokyo, Osaka, Taipei (Taiwan) and Germany. 

It has plans to set up offices in Shanghai, Beijing, India, and London, England. A major reason why many attend the Woodtech show and conference is to catch up on the latest technology available from suppliers and to get a sense of industry trends. Show organizers expect about 7,000 wood processing professionals to attend. Past surveys indicate that 74 per cent had a role in their company's purchasing decisions and 50 per cent found a new supplier at Woodtech. Many attend the Woodtech show and conference exclusively. The show is expected to include many of the industry's leading suppliers as exhibitors. They use the occasion to unveil some of their latest technological advances and equipment. 

From cutting tools to fibre processing and lumber manufacturing to secondary processing, Woodtech represents an excellent opportunity for both customers and suppliers to exchange information, says Rose. "We feel that Woodtech showcases all the best that Canada has to offer," says Rose. "Everything is in one place. You don't have to visit each company individually regarding new technology." British Columbia has over 90 equipment manufacturers employing anywhere from three to 600 people. The industry provides more than 5,000 direct jobs and generates over $1 billion annually to the provincial economy. While it may be difficult for suppliers to provide equipment demonstrations, Woodtech provides them with an opportunity to host seminars on new products, with company representatives fielding customers' questions. 

Over the three days, Woodtech 2000 will provide about 30 exhibitor seminars popular with both attendees and exhibitors, Rose says. Typically, they receive twice as many requests from exhibitors as they are able to accommodate, so attendees have the opportunity to attend seminars on the most interesting and significant technological advances having an impact on the industry. 

A major reason why many attend the Woodtech show and conference is to catch up on the latest technology available from suppliers and to get a sense of industry trends 

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