Investing in Infrastructure & Technology
By embracing the highest standards and advancing innovation in our manufacturing operations and woodlands, we increase efficiency, keep our workplaces safe, and deliver high-quality products.
Investing in Modern, Efficient Technology in our Mills
Since 2010 we have spent more than $1.6 billion upgrading facilities and systems to employ the latest technologies (see Capital Investments chart on page 5). In 2017, we announced a multi-year strategic capital investment program, designed to increase production capacity, improve lumber recovery and enhance our product mix. It is focused predominantly on our facilities in the US South region but includes projects across all our operating regions.
In 2019, we completed a new planer and kiln upgrade at our Meldrim Division in Georgia and a major rebuild at our Monticello Division in Arkansas.
In 2020, we completed:
- the planer upgrade phase at our Eatonton Division in Georgia;
- sawmill and planer upgrades at our Georgetown Division in South Carolina; and
- an upgrade of the primary breakdown equipment at our Molalla Division in Oregon.
We also began the construction of a new kiln at our Adams Lake Division in British Columbia, which was completed in February 2021.
Investment in modern and efficient technology continues to be a foundation of our business. Building on our successful accomplishments to date, our multi-year program is ongoing, with improvements and strategic investments planned for several facilities and operating regions over the next two years.
Investing in Modern, Efficient Technology in our Woodlands
We invest in new technology to be used in the woodlands we manage, and we support technology investments made by the timber harvesting companies and landowners working with us. Some highlights include:
- acquiring highly detailed remote sensing LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) data to inform inventory, planning and development across our operations;
- using immersive LiDAR software as a virtual platform for staff, First Nations partners and stakeholders to conduct and assess preliminary forestry and engineering activities remotely;
- surveying, inventorying, and tracking forest and operational inventories using drones; and
- using GPS (Global Positioning System) technology and dashboard cameras in trucks and mobile equipment to promote high safety standards.
Investing in Research
Research, in partnership with other organizations, also plays an important role in making Interfor more efficient.
We are continuing to support and fund a research project partnership started in 2019 with Clemson University in South Carolina. Using land attached to our Georgetown Division, the project is focused on how things like tree spacing, planting densities and varied herbicide prescriptions will impact seedling survival and tree growth. We are actively working to replicate a similar partnership and research project at our Preston Division.
In 2020, we provided financial support to the University of Georgia’s Harley Langdale Jr. Center for Forest Business, which is focused on integrating pioneering academic research and sound financial methods for the forest industry.
We support the BC Wildlife Federation’s research that aims to learn how to restore mule deer populations in BC by studying how landscape change and the predator-prey community are affecting current populations. Over the past two years, our staff have helped to set up and install a number of trail cameras in the summer, then retrieve them and download the images for the research team in late fall.