Modeling & Decision Support

2016-2017 Projects

Click on each title below for project details

Innovative Approaches to Deliver Wood Based on Fibre Attributes

A good knowledge of the fibre attributes is a key element of the forest planning process. Exploring Enhanced Forest Inventory (EFI) technologies (LiDAR, digital photogrammetry, high-resolution satellite imagery) can provide better knowledge about forest resources. Scientific research has provided a better understanding of the fibre characteristics needed for each type of wood product. What is needed now is the ability to locate forest resources that have the specific characteristics desired for wood products.EFI is a key element for improving planning decisions and supporting predictions from decision-support software models, but detailed knowledge of desired fibre quality attributes is also required. The traceability of these attributes as fibre moves along the supply chain is currently very challenging. Timber supply analyses currently forecast the distribution of total wood volume in each time period of the planning horizon.

  • Refine strategic analyses to predict volume available by desired fibre quality attribute.
  • Integrate fibre quality attribute information into software developed by FPInnovations.
  • Explore virtual geospatial traceability concepts and links with EFI data management systems.

Transportation Model of Fibre Flow

Proper logistics, particularly in the distribution networks, is critical to adequately manage wood inventories. Better use of truck fleets and drivers are also needed to overcome a lack of manpower in this area. Optimizing transportation has an obvious potential to reduce costs but it will also conduct to lower environmental footprints and increase road safety.

This project will promote models to foster collaborative approaches in transportation by using real cases with members that have expressed interest in new methods of truck scheduling with multiple constraints.

  • Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of applying a collaborative approach to transportation for specific fibre flow situations.
  • Manage unforeseen events and provide supply chain agility with a real-time transportation approach.
  • Develop a logistics simulation model that can also handle long distance fibre transportation and changes of format. (e.g., transfer yards with or without merchandizing capacity)

Decision Support Models for Forest Supply Chains

Existing planning tools that are used to develop medium-term (10 to 20 years) harvesting and allocation plans do not explicitly account for the production requirements and capacities of downstream manufacturing facilities (including primary manufacturing, engineered wood products, value-added wood products, pulp mills, bioenergy facilities) or for the expected demand for finished wood products. Moreover, the impact of inherent uncertainty in markets for traditional wood products, of the potential for new products to gain market share, as well as of the advances in manufacturing technologies, is not well modeled in current decision support methods. This can result in plans that are either infeasible or unrealistic.

On the other hand, short-term (1 year) block selection and allocation planning tools are often focused only on the present set of conditions. If these tools are used in isolation from medium-term planning, this can result in unbalanced fibre supply over the years and unstable manufacturing supply chains due to the great variability in forest resources’ availability and in markets for finished products. The impact of these potential uncertainties is unknown.

The solve time for the mathematical programming problem with the addition of multi-year analyses, and the spatial inventory data, will need to be addressed by investigating alternate technologies for solving the mathematical model.

  • Develop and test a prototype model into a combined short- and mid-term planning decision support tool.
  • Explore the integration of ForestPlan with a GIS-based software for spatial representation of the forest inventory (FPInterface) and test its capabilities for scenario analysis.
  • Investigate the feasibility to use cloud technology for a model solver to improve model testing under uncertainty and solve time.