Mar. 4, 2014 – The new GT Radial GDM635 on/off highway drive tire is being introduced in North America to provide mixed service fleets consistent traction and effective protection against stones and long tread wear.

Featuring a full inch (32/32nds) of tread rubber for outstanding durability and wear, the GT Radial GDM635 is currently available in the 11R24.5 size. It is backed by the GT Radial six-year limited warranty.

"We're excited to kick off the year with the introduction of an outstanding new drive tire for on/off highway applications," said Justin Wright, commercial product marketing manager for Giti Tire USA, which markets and sells GT Radial tires in North America. "The GDM635's deep lug tread design is one of the tire's strongest selling points, offering a full inch of rubber to get the job done."

Wright said the new deep-tread drive tire is perfectly suited for a variety of mixed service fleet operations, including logging, mining and oil field services.

The GT Radial GDM635's aggressive independent block design is optimized to provide consistent traction, and the tread's v-shaped grooves with stone ejectors offer effective protection against stone retention and drilling. The tire has been engineered with four belts, which provide effective casing protection for outstanding durability and retreadability. It has a special cut/chip tread compound to resist cutting, chipping, chunking and tearing in harsh off-highway environments.

Giti Tire USA is the sales and marketing operation in North America for Giti Tire Pte. Ltd., which manufactures GT Radial brand tires for passenger, SUV, light truck, truck, bus, and high performance vehicles. In truck and bus tires, the company provides a wide range of GT Radial long haul, regional and mixed service products in North America. Most of the GT Radial premium long haul line is verified by SmartWay: GSL213FS for steer axles, GT669+FS for drive, and the GT979FS (low profile sizes 22.5 and 24.5 only) for trailers.

GT Radial tires are sold through distributors, independent dealers and retailers throughout North America. For more information, visit

Feb. 19, 2014 - This is the seventh year that the Canadian Truck King Challenge has pitted the most popular pickups in the country against each other. However how we do it each September is no different from what you do every day of the year – and that’s the point. So, the rain, mud and cold are a vital part of testing; my judges and I have to feel what you feel, contend with what you contend with and ultimately appreciate what you appreciate – and judge each feature along the way.

As in years past we tested at my IronWood site in Kawartha Lakes, Ont. We use a public 19-kilometre test loop that consists of a hilly gravel road, broken twisting asphalt and a smooth highway section. We take trucks out in groups of five and drive them round and round – switching drivers on each circuit until all five judges have driven all five vehicles. The trucks are always used in the same condition: all empty, all towing or all with payload. Back-to-back testing is the best way to compare vehicles.

 It took us about 2 ½ hours to do a complete back-to-back test; then we’d head to the yard for the next five. We do this over and over for 10 hours a day for two days, making notes and scoring along the way. And while 19 kilometres doesn’t sound like much by the time we were finished, collectively, we drove over 4,000 kilometres.

So, what happened? Well, 2014 is going to be a big year for Ram; the work it has been doing for at least the past five years is all coming together now and it showed up in the scoring. The company’s technology, design work and the will to take chances crystallized in one unique pickup truck.

 The overall points winner of the Canadian Truck King Challenge is the 2014 Ram 1500 powered by the 3.0L EcoDiesel with 8-speed transmission. This is a revolutionary setup – one that we feel is going to be copied very quickly – but it deserves credit right now. It takes guts to be the first and this small diesel from Ram works very, very well. Price-wise the diesel will be a $4,500 option; however, it will be available on every trim level except the absolute base.

At a lower price point (in our under 45K category) Ram did it again with the 2014 Ram 1500 powered by the 3.6L Pentastar V6 with the 8-speed transmission. This powertrain speaks to the other holy grail of truck ownership – power, capability with decent fuel economy. There was a time when this was simply impossible, remember? Not anymore. In large part this is due to the 8-speed gearbox – again a revolutionary step forward. For that matter all the Rams – 3L diesel, 3.6L V6 and 5.7L Hemi all came to IronWood with 8-speed transmissions. This gearbox worked well in all configurations during every test.

The three Detroit-sourced HD trucks were tested outside London, Ont. Because HD owners tow a lot, that’s what we do too. Each truck was outfitted by the manufacturer with a fifth-wheel hitch and we partnered with Can-AM RV centre towing 14,000-pound fifth-wheel RV trailers over a 300-kilometre route. The next day we stripped the fifth-wheels out and loaded up 3,000 pounds of IKO shingles and set off on a 200-kilometre route. Once again the judges switched up back to back during the driving.

In this HD category it was the 2500-series Ram equipped with the 6.7L Cummins diesel that won out – though just. Last year saw the Silverado HD in first place; however, for 2014 it still suffers from the dated interior, poor video screens and older software of last year. Mind you, we have already seen the 2015 Chevrolet and that’s all been fixed – but for now, we can only grade what we get. Ram was in a similar boat last year but for 2014 Ram’s chassis was upgraded and strengthened while the engine was also tuned up and converted to use the DEF fluid for cleaner combustion and better mileage (though still not the best).

Truck king tables 

Three categories: three wins
One high-tech addition this year was the installation of data readers in each truck. We contracted a third-party company (recommended by Natural Resources Canada) called MyCarma to have a technician on site both days to record and interpret the fuel economy data from readers they installed in each truck. We made a point of recording each truck in each condition. Empty, loaded, and towing. The resulting figures are as real-world as they get. During each stage of testing, trucks were hot-swapped by the judges (never shut off) as they traded vehicles. They idled between loops and recorded the fuel used by the judges as they tested acceleration, braking and handling. No Dyno testing here – these numbers are real and dirty, just like those that everyday owners might achieve.

Testing notes and overall summary
Payload this year was 1,000 pounds of patio stones on pallets. Trailers were twin-axle dumps and car carriers. Most trailers weighed in at 6,000 pounds – another at 6,100 pounds and one at 6,900 pounds. The weights varied because the trucks sent to us all had different limits – so we tried to give heavier trailers to trucks that claimed higher towing limits. Also, the smallest truck, the Toyota Tacoma hauled 3,500 pounds. All the judges agreed that generally all trucks hauled well, but the torque of the Ram 3.0L diesel with 8-speed automatic stood out; its air suspension also held the load level and felt firm on the road and made its attitude with a trailer on always level. The Tundras, while new this year and powerful, still suffer from a lack of chassis rigidity, though special mention is deserved for the new 1794 trim package. This has to be one of the most upscale interiors put in a pickup.

The Fords generally felt good during all the testing (and at the moment, they are the oldest models we tested) – but the surprise for most judges was how well the base 3.7L V6 handled the weight in the bed and while towing. Its overall cost and fuel economy was impressive. However, three of the four Fords we were given for testing had electrical gremlins in their trailer lighting hookups.

The new 2014 GMs are strong, trannies are smooth, but the ride is slightly twitchy under load and several judges had steering complaints. The new interiors are nice: they feature excellent materials and layout. They also had several innovative features in the truck beds such as integrated steps in the bumper and lighting under the box lips. On the fuel side, note how close the results are between the GM 5.3L V8 and the newer 6.2L V8 – way more power and very little extra fuel consumption.

The off-road is the shortest test. It’s done on a half-mile-long course consisting of muddy hills, rock-strewn fields, a water-filled trench and an off-camber test to get the wheels in the air. Three things showed up out in the field this year.

First, with builders looking for more aerodynamic advantages, they keep adding length to the front air dams, which resulted in several trucks scraping repeatedly through the course. Second, the mechanical rear differential locker on the GMs works well and is still unique; otherwise, the trucks all handled the course, except in the off-camber where the GM’s rear differentials nicely locked up when power went to the lifted wheel. Third, and this is a gripe that’s several years old, the Fords still have the electrical hookups below the bumper where they collect mud, dirt and grime.

As with many tests, much is based on opinion. However, it is educated opinion offered up by five Canadian automotive journalists with well over 150 years of combined trucking experience. Numbers do tell a tale, though, so it’s worth looking at the overall scores as averaged among the five judges.

The first thing that stands out is how close they all are. This means that there really isn’t a bad truck in the bunch. Each has strengths and weaknesses, but as in any competition there must be a winner and a loser, and we feel confident in our choices.

truck king score

Feb. 18, 2014, Toronto – Technological innovations are changing the face of Canada's trucking industry, and will continue to do so as long as the industry is willing to embrace change.

At FPInnovations' Performance Innovations Transport conference in Toronto, experts from across North America and Europe presented information on the newest technologies that are impacting the industry and how they are being integrating into day-to-day operations.

The introduction of driver support systems, which has been adopted by all OEMs in the construction of new vehicles in some form, has provided real-time driver evaluation. Anders Johnson, who works at the SP Technical Research Institute in Sweden, spent 17 years working in research and development at Scania. Johnson explained that the Driver Support System introduced by Scania is targeted at improving driving performance by offering real-time support that can coach the drivers into making better decisions on the road. The Scania system evaluates the quality of the decision made pertaining to hill driving, anticipation, brake usage and choice of gears. The end result is that drivers find out in real-time if they are using best practices on the roads, while fleet managers collect data on the quality of the driving being done by each individual operator. But the system has to be active in order to be effective, a decision the driver must make at the start of daily operation.

The problem with new technologies, as explained by Wes Mays of Peterbilt Motors Company, is that it is difficult to get driver buy-in of some of the new innovations that are introduced.

Peterbilt developed a Driver State Monitor System, which monitors the alertness of drivers during the long haul. In the testing phase, Peterbilt found the system to be highly effective in making drivers aware when they were getting too sleepy to be behind the wheel by monitoring things like heart rate and blink rate. But the industry itself has not bought into the system, citing issues regarding distraction and a lack of overall desire to pay for the feature.

With the constant development of new technologies targeted at providing safer truck operation on our roads, it will be a wait-and-see approach to find out whether or not the industry will embrace the newest innovations.

Feb. 17, 2014 - Could it be that forest companies and racing car teams are waging the same battle? At first glance, no, since both industries have little in common apart from their focus on the performance of very powerful machines. A research group at FPInnovations, however, believes that forest companies could benefit from some of the expertise surrounding the high-speed spectator sport, especially when it comes to aerodynamics. Using the science of fluid mechanics, the impact of the shape of a race car’s exterior, components can be modelled to see how to increase fuel efficiency. When will a logging truck be on the podium for energy performance?

Thousands of trucks travel on forest roads and highways across Canada, with loaded and unloaded log trailers, during forest operations or on their way to supply mills. Transport can account for up to half of the delivered wood costs for the forest industry. The 2.7 billion litres of fuel consumed annually by the Canadian forest industry are the equivalent of over 7.3 million tonnes of greenhouse gases. Year after year, resources are transported over increasingly longer distances to be sold or processed. As a result, transport-related activities are applying greater pressure on both the Canadian industry’s competitiveness and the life cycle of forest products. Add to that rising fuel prices and a desire to reduce the environmental footprint and you have companies that would gain by learning more about fuel-efficient operating practices and technologies. One of the main contributing factors to the fuel consumption of these vehicles, i.e. between 40 and 50 per cent of total consumption, is aerodynamic drag.

Over the years, the FPInnovations research team responsible for transport and energy efficiency has developed a comprehensive toolbox to measure and analyze the impact of a truck’s profile on aerodynamic drag. It is therefore possible to compare various configurations and different products for logging trailers.

Analysis toolbox
The importance of the approach taken by the group at FPInnovations is the potential for developing specific technological solutions. To achieve that, the group’s focus is twofold – identify the best technologies for reducing aerodynamic drag and identify those for reducing the impacts of various trailer configurations.

The group relies on a whole array of equipment primarily to conduct three types of tests. Modelling using computational fluid dynamics (CFD) makes it possible to visualize the air flow and turbulence around a truck and its trailer. Modelling with CFD allows several concepts and products to be tested quickly and economically. Simulations of the most promising products are then calibrated using wind tunnel tests for a second sorting and are finally evaluated with track tests that may be costly but better reflect on-road operations. A wide variety of devices available on the market can therefore be tested and sorted by the first two methods to better understand and compare the aerodynamic drag created by the different products. Then, the most promising product is track tested.

Benefits of improved aerodynamics
A trend seen in the industry is that forest companies with tree-length systems are increasingly adopting felling-processing as their harvesting method. Trailers used in these cases are equipped with several stakes to retain the multiple bundles of shortwood produced by this type of harvesting.

Simulations and wind tunnel tests have demonstrated that by simply removing the stakes, once the trucks have been unloaded, aerodynamic drag may be reduced by 35 per cent. Track tests showed 15 per cent less fuel was consumed. This fuel economy could translate into annual savings of $2,500 to $4,500 per truck. The stakes, however, must be back in place to hold the logs during the next loaded trip. Some manufacturers therefore offer foldable stakes or others that lie flat on the platform. Savings then depend on the added weight of these motorized or mechanical stake folding systems.

The trucking industry could expect to enjoy even more savings by using the right configurations and combinations of technologies. The logging truck of the future will therefore be equipped with good deflectors, strategically installed at the right place on the roof and behind the driver’s cab, and having the optimal deflection angle. The truck will then be able to reach the podium.

For further information, please contact Jan Michaelsen at 514-782-4524 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Feb. 12, 2014 – FPInnovations and Canadian Woodlands Forum are conducting a series of technology road shows in three locations in Atlantic Canada. The half-day workshop will provide practical information on how to prepare a fuel management plan for a forestry company or logging fleet.

The Fuel Management 101 for Forestry Fleets workshop gives participants the practical advice and tools they need to help save money on fuel and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With fuel consuming a large part of a fleet's budget, improving fuel efficiency will make operations more competitive and improve the bottom line. And with expectations for environmental responsibility on the rise, reducing your footprint will reflect positively on your company too.

Who should attend?
This workshop is designed for managers, particularly fleet and forest operations managers, who are looking for ways to improve fleet efficiencies and drive costs down. The course content is tailored to the forestry industry and offers solutions to its unique challenges.

What will participants learn?
• how to prepare a fuel management plan;
• prepare a fleet inventory and calculate your current consumption through hands-on training with sample worksheets and formulae for calculating baseline measures and fuel consumption;
• review the costs and benefits of various fuel saving options;
• how to put the plan into action and sell it to management;
• how to monitor and track your plan's success.

The workshops are being held on the afternoons of March 4, 5 and 6, 2014 in Grand Falls, Fredericton and Stellarton. For more information and to register, go to

Jan. 28, 2014, Grande Prairie, Alta.- Weyerhaeuser has put out an urgent call for trucks needed at its Grande Prairie Operations. The company is looking for log-haul trucks or a fleet and loader for the rest of this winter. Typically operating until the last week of March or early April, most of the haul is on private Weyerhaeuser roads. 

For more information, contact Joe Henry (Harvest and Haul Manager) at 780-539-8133 or 780-296- 6497.

Oct. 23, 2013 - To what extent can India be the next China for the B.C. forest industry? It’s a question a growing number of pundits are asking. Exporting wood to India is nothing new: almost all B.C. lumber producers sell to the emerging superpower; but as local players assess new horizons in a bid to maintain their industry’s recovery, India increasingly seems like fertile ground for major export.

But make the comparison with China to any resource analyst, and the response will be muted. “It’s just not a big enough market yet,” says Russell Taylor, president of International WOOD MARKETS Group Inc. “You’ll hear about big percentage year-over-year numbers, but from a very small base.”

Taylor goes on to say that although hemlock has been sold to India, “India is mainly a teak market: tropical timbers dominate. The big story for softwoods is radiata pine logs from New Zealand, and India has been importing up to 1.5 million cubic metres per year: sizeable volumes but at very low prices. The logs are used at sawmills for low value packaging and pallet type of materials.”

Cautious optimism tends to characterize any debate about foreign export, but as far as the newly re-elected
provincial Liberal government is concerned, the time has come to go full-out in cementing ties with India. “The growth potential is tremendous,” says Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson. “In fact, when I was recently reappointed to cabinet, one of the initiatives given to me by Premier Christy Clark was to develop a new and diversified wood market in India. We won’t enjoy exponential growth as we did in China, and development will definitely occur over the long term – but we’ve already made crucial inroads in establishing a framework for meaningful export and investment.”

Thomson is referring to Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd. (FII), the Liberals’ market development agency for forest products whose mission is to grow the B.C. industry by “bringing its products to the world.” Last December, FII opened an office in Mumbai beside the government’s Trade and Investment bureau. Since then, FII has embarked on regional education and promotional campaigns, and earlier this year it hosted a trade mission in which 18 B.C. forestry representatives met with architects, builders, manufacturers and government officials (the mission is said to have generated new sales of over $5 million for the B.C. industry).

Successful trade missions are one thing; creating a substantial and permanent export relationship is quite another. As it stands, the volume of wood exported to India yearly has fluctuated wildly: from 11,707 cubic metres in 2010 to 61,698 in 2011, down to 52,820 last year and only 13,239 as of April of this year, according to FII figures (the fluctuations are due to factors such as the GDP hitting the wall in 2012 and, more recently, U.S. market price improvements). SPF has overwhelmingly been the biggest commodity sold by volume (accounting for 49,101 of 2012’s 52,820 total, and 44,457 of 2011’s 61,698 total) followed by Douglas fir and hemlock.

These are hardly earthshaking numbers; so why is the government so bullish about India (whose housing material of choice is concrete and steel), and how does it plan to gain a real foothold in the market?

FII representatives couldn’t comment at the time of this writing because Victoria was in the midst of ratifying media communications policies in the wake of the May election. But a government insider who spoke to Canadian Forest Industries magazine on condition of anonymity says that “although India’s dense population mandates concrete high-rise construction, wood is used extensively in interiors and for plywood and finished products like furniture, doors and window frames. Also, as India’s economy continues to grow, it faces a horrible dilemma: its traditional sources for imported wood such as Malaysia and Burma are drying up.

In fact, trade with Burma might end altogether next year due to environmental considerations.”

The source goes on to say that FII has made considerable unheralded progress in smoothing the way for exports. “For example, its people helped resolve tariff issues that prevented western red cedar and hemlock from being exported to India. What remains, apart from educating Indian industries about the benefits of our wood, is for them to find the right mix of markets and homes for our different grades and cuts.”

As beneficial as FII’s presence in India undoubtedly is, one person in B.C.’s private sector deserves credit for single-handedly laying the groundwork that made the current export volumes and initiatives possible. Colleagues refer to him as the “Godfather of India”; he began exporting lumber to India 15 years ago when that nation wasn’t even on anyone’s radar. His name is Tom Sundher, a former hemlock mill manager who today is president and owner of Coast Clear Wood Ltd. in Surrey, B.C.

Coast Clear Wood acts as the agent to Western Forest Products and Weyerhaeuser into India, but 15 years ago, after Sundher visited relatives in India and witnessed an enormous use of wood, he couldn’t get anyone in B.C. to consider exporting to that country. “I talked to private companies and associations, and they dismissed me outright,” he says. “The provincial government informed me that India wasn’t even on their list of countries to keep an eye on.”

Sundher was stonewalled for almost a decade until he finally convinced MacMillan Bloedel to use him as an export agent. “We went to India, attended trade shows and got orders rolling,” he says. When Weyerhaeuser bought MacBlo, Sundher became their export agent.

It was Sundher, along with FII and the federal government, who managed to lift the restriction on western red cedar and hemlock four years ago. “Our botanical names for the wood weren’t correct and we needed pest assessments,” he recalls. “Once that was done we decided to perform the same service for all of our species – which is why today India can accept almost anything we grow.”

Bob Flynn, director, international timber, for RISI, has provided a comprehensive analysis of the Indian market via a new report, “2013 India’s Forest Products Industry” – a document FII is using to formulate strategies and initiatives.

Canadian Forest Industries tracked down Flynn in China to learn what he thought of B.C.’s prospects of expanding business with that nation. “Let’s first talk about the comparison between India and China,” he says. “China was the result of a convergence of factors: that country’s massive stimulus to construction in 2009-2011, which came at the same time that Canadians were desperate for an alternative to the dead U.S. lumber market, and the same time the B.C. government pushing salvage of beetle-killed timber, which resulted in a lot of low grade product that the China market was perfect for.

“Most importantly, the Canadian government and industry had been working 15-20 years to educate the Chinese about the advantages of softwood lumber, how to use it, slowly building business relationships and distribution channels. It was hardly an overnight success.”

Flynn predicts India will be very important for softwood lumber producers, “but the effort to educate and build relationships is just getting started. FII’s efforts will, I’m sure, pay dividends in another 10 to 20 years’ time. And India’s democratic system means that port development, housing programs, et cetera, all take place at a much slower pace than in China.”

That said, Flynn concedes that while growth will not be at the same pace as in China it is likely to continue for decades into the future (for the record, he forecasts that as India continues to urbanize, imports of softwood lumber will nearly triple over the next decade, but still be less than one million cubic metres).

In the meantime, China isn’t going anywhere, and the B.C. industry continues to recover. Sundher, whose company achieved $2 million in sales to India last year, knows intimately that patience and persistence will eventually yield results. “I doubt India will ever be the next China simply because China wants to be the manufacturers to the world, while India is a wood consumer,” he says. “But it’ll be a huge market nonetheless, and I’m heartened by the efforts of FII and the federal government, the latter of which may sign a free trade deal with India by the end of this year – which in turn would reduce the 14 per cent duty on our lumber and the cumulative 22 per cent surcharge by the time it gets to the Indian consumer. I think the future for us is very promising.”

Most reading this know firsthand about how Canada’s forestry sector has undergone unprecedented change over the last 10 years. A perfect storm of factors – the high value of the loonie, reduced U.S. housing starts, stalled newsprint markets, rising energy costs, unprecedented global competition, the softwood lumber dispute – have together created recent industry conditions unseen since the Great Depression. Collectively, these factors cut industry employment by just less than half, from a high of approximately 260,000 direct jobs in 2003 to about 150,000 at present.

But the wood industry is resilient. Like its founding fathers – the men who helped give birth to this nation by toiling in the lumber camps from before dawn ’til after dusk – it’s a scrappy fighter, and on an upward swing again. However, just as the industry ramps back up, especially on Canada’s west coast, another set of thorny factors is rearing its ugly head. It’s turning out that recruiting the workers needed for the industry to hold its own, let alone grow, may be the biggest challenge yet.

One of the toughest challenges is the magnitude of expected retirements. More than half of the sector’s workforce is at least 45 years old. Based on current demographics as well as past retirement and attrition patterns, it’s estimated that during the next 10 years more than 50,000 workers will be gone. (These and other results are explained in the 2011 Forest Products Sector Council labour market report Renewing Canada’s Greenest Workforce - This 50,000 loss represents approximately one-third of the industry’s current workforce.  

Adding 120,000?
In the most optimistic of future possibilities, Canadian forest product enterprises will need to hire as many as 120,000 new workers by 2020. Even if the sector only holds its own, its labour force demand will equal nearly 40,000 new workers within the same time frame. Millwrights, saw filers, technicians, machinery operators, scientists, foresters, engineers, electricians, IT workers, communications, sales – you name it, forestry will need it.

“We need a workforce mix that will allow us to maintain existing operations while also pursuing a program of innovative new products and expansion into new markets,” says Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) director of communications Monica Bailey. “We are actively working on this, as we know sector employers are already having difficulties retaining workers, attracting youth and recruiting new employees.”

FPAC is working with its members as well as other related players on a three-pronged initiative to renew the forestry sector – which is key to attracting the workers it needs. “Maintaining and growing this industry is about people, products and performance,” Bailey explains. “We need skilled people, we need to continue to create a diverse range of innovative products, and we need to keep improving the efficiency of our operations on all fronts. If we can communicate this reality – that forestry is a dynamic, cutting-edge and growing industry – it makes it easier to attract young people, women, Aboriginal people, new Canadians and more.”

More than money
It’s also critical to get the message out that forestry careers incorporate the values that many of today’s workers hold dear. “It’s not just about good salaries,” Bailey explains. “Even with high wages offered by the oil sands industry, it is having trouble recruiting because it has an image of not being environmentally friendly, and many of the jobs require that workers have to fly in and stay at a camp. Those things don’t speak well to the values of people today.”

Bailey says forestry offers “green jobs” within a renewable industry that’s concerned about the environment. “This is important to people because they want to be able to make a difference throughout their careers – they want to have a positive impact on the environment and on Canada’s future,” she notes. “We also offer great work-life balance in great communities, job security, great salaries, opportunities for advancement and a chance to innovate – all of which holds a lot of appeal.”

Bailey adds that many forestry sector companies also offer “amazing” perks, such as skills training, pensions and in some cases four-day work weeks. “We need to make sure young people, and those around them who influence their career decisions, clearly see the sector as a ‘first choice’ option,” she says. “This is especially true for the ‘in-demand’ occupations – such as trades and professions – where forestry is in competition against many other resource sectors.”

The range of jobs available in the sector is another point that FPAC is stressing. “We’ve found a lot of surprise among young people that we’re not just looking for skilled labour and of course people to do front-line work in the forest, but that we need people to fill corporate office positions in IT, HR, accounting and communications, and so on, and to fill tons of science-related positions, such as chemical and environmental engineers, geneticists,

To help achieve all this, FPAC has created a website dedicated to attracting workers called It’s described as “a resource tool that provides information on the dynamic direction of the forest products industry and career opportunities on offer right across the country.”

“Even though there are jobs available, we discovered that young people were not aware of the positions out there, so this website really helps with that,” says Bailey. “It links to the ‘career pages’ on the websites of major forest product companies, and offers a Twitter feed with careers on offer right now.” She adds that the website has also been a very successful tool in reaching Ontario high school students through the Ministry of Education and high school teachers.

Finding new faces
Although the site is for anyone, it also seeks to attract females, Aboriginal people and new Canadians. About 85 per cent of current workers in the forestry sector are male. Aboriginal peoples already are well represented among the sector’s workforce, accounting for just over six per cent of the labour force compared to almost three per cent in Canada’s entire labour force – and forestry wants to build on that. The participation of Aboriginal people is strongest in silviculture, forestry and logging operations and in the four western provinces.

“Canada’s growing Aboriginal population represents one of the sector’s best hopes to fill positions,” says Bailey. “We want to build on the historical connection. First Nation peoples are showing continued interest in increasing their participation in the sector, and see the possibilities for long-term economic benefits for Aboriginal communities situated close to sector activities.” Effective, local models of partnership based on mutual co-operation and respect can do much to support these efforts, she notes. During 2010 alone, the Forest Products Sector Council (FPSC) held seven Aboriginal engagement sessions across the country.

The forestry sector makes limited use of immigrant workers – only 7.6 per cent compared to the national average of 21.2 per cent – so this represents a good source of potential candidates as well. As with youth and Aboriginal Peoples, making new Canadians aware of the jobs is critically needed – but ways to enhance worker mobility and flexibility across provinces and sectors is also necessary.

“Cross-skilling of workers provides benefits for the workers and the employer,” Bailey observes. “We’re also working on tools and techniques to improve knowledge transfer practices from older experienced workers to newer entrants, so that they can benefit from all that knowledge and skill.” Developing strategies to increase participation in apprenticeship is also key.

In addition to needing more workers, the FPSC report also suggests that new skills will have to be developed to support and grow the forestry industry, to be able to create new products and processes. Training programs must evolve over time, and essential skills profiles and competency maps must
be developed.

Getting the word out
To help “market” forestry careers, FPAC recently ran a “Green Dream Internship Contest.” In June, the winners began posting their personal reflections on their new forest sector careers on the GreenestWorkforce website, Facebook and Twitter. (FPAC also offers other awards, such as the Aboriginal Youth Skills Award, which last year went to a young woman looking at perfume derivatives from wood.)

Millar Western Forest Products of Alberta hired three interns this spring who were all entered in the contest. “We support all of FPAC’s efforts 100 per cent,” says Millar Western’s communications manager Louise Riopel. “It’s so important to get on the radar of young people choosing a career, and show that forest sector jobs are green and growing.”

Her company believes filling the forest sector workforce demand is going to take a multipronged approach. “We have to work on several fronts and tweak our strategies as we go along,” Riopel says. “There is no silver bullet.” In addition to working with FPAC, Millar Western is involved with the Alberta Forest Products Association’s “Work Wild” program that also seeks to build awareness of career opportunities in the forest industry. Furthermore, the company is looking at partnerships with organizations like Helmets to Hardhats, which helps Canadian military personnel transition to civilian careers, and a program based in Edmonton called Women Building Futures that prepares women for careers in the trades.

Millar Western opened a new sawmill at end of 2011 and has a bioenergy project starting up at its pulp mill next year. “We really need quality workers, just like companies in many other industries do,” Riopel says. “We have a strong economy in Alberta, making it especially hard to attract tradespeople. We must continue to advertise our strengths – that we offer competitive salaries and benefits, and also ‘green’ careers that are based on a renewable resource and located in dynamic communities that offer great quality of life. Our industry provides a healthy work-life balance, as well as opportunities for advancement and career longevity.”

No one can predict the future, but it is certain that swift, concerted and sustained actions are needed to recruit the future forest sector workforce, retain experienced workers and improve human resource planning. “Meeting these labour demands is a challenge that the sector is facing now to ensure that it remains a competitive and productive global industry,” says Bailey. “There is massive potential in new and emerging markets and in transformative bio-products. Canada is well positioned to capitalize on the strong global forest products recovery that’s happening now. There are so many options for individuals to have extremely fulfilling and exciting careers.”

In the never-ending quest to improve fuel efficiency and increase truck productivity, fleet owners are in some cases taking a fresh look at some old technologies.

Dan O’Brien and Bid Right Contracting have diversified business to prepare for the upswing ahead.

Canada's Truck King has been crowned, as our experts put these pickups through their paces.

For the first time in Canada, heavy-duty trucks powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) are now available for rent at two Quebec dealerships.

Wherever you travel in Canada or the United States, the topic du jour for the past year has been the viability of natural gas to replace diesel as the primary fuel for truck transportation. And why not? Advances in fracking techniques and newfound supplies mean both Canada and the U.S. are sitting on at least a century’s worth of the stuff. And the cost spread between natural gas and diesel is significant; natural gas currently costs about 30% less per diesel gallon equivalent, a unit of measurement that accounts for the fact natural gas has less energy density than diesel.

This Vancouver Island entrepreneur helped create a logging and roadbuilding business with integrity at the core.

Since 2007, the price tag on a new Class 8 logging truck has gone up by nearly $20,000, thanks mostly to the cost of complying with government-imposed emissions mandates.

Exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), diesel particulate filters (DPFs), diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) are a few of the acronyms truckers have had to add to their vocabularies, all in the name of saving the planet from harmful pollutants such as NOx and particulate matter. All those technologies came at a significant cost, and adding to the heartache, some of the earlier emissions mandates carried the double whammy of higher costs coupled with worsened fuel economy performance. That trend was reversed with the introduction of SCR in 2010, but if you think regulators are willing to stand pat and turn their attention elsewhere, think again.

Truck owners will incur their next round of higher costs when ordering trucks built after Jan. 1, 2013, due to new on-board diagnostic requirements. Additional sensors will be required to ensure the emissions-busting systems introduced in 2007 and 2010 are functioning properly and the air leaving the smokestack is as clean as it should be. This will deter tampering with the technology and will alert a truck owner to any failures within the emissions system. The cost for this will be anywhere from $750-$1,000 across the board, and OEMs are warning customers to get their orders in early to avoid the latest charge. The price increases will likely come in the form of “non-negotiable” emissions surcharges. This latest expenditure may be enough to encourage fleet managers or owner/operators to put in an order early if they’re planning to replace vehicles in the new year.

GHG Next on the Radar
With NOx and particulate matter reduced to near-zero levels – in some cities, the air leaving the smokestack may be cleaner than the external air – regulators are turning their attention to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have jointly developed new greenhouse gas emissions rules, which will be phased in between model year 2014 and 2017 Class 8 trucks. They announced the new rules in August 2011, and not to be outdone, Environment Canada said it would come out with its own set of rules to mirror those in the United States.

The new regs aim to slash GHG emissions by 17 per cent by the year 2020, using 2005 levels as a baseline, which will be equal to removing 650,000 passenger cars from the highway. It’s an ambitious goal, and one that may prove to be difficult to administer.

Fortunately for truck owners, the burden of compliance with the new rules will rest with the OEMs, who will have to ensure a certain percentage of their overall build complies with the GHG targets when the trucks leave the factory.

Truckers could also benefit from improved fuel economy, since fuel consumption is closely linked to GHG emissions. Regulators have said any cost increases brought on by the new rules will be recouped by improved fuel economy within a year. But any potential fuel savings will be muted in applications such as logging, where much time is spent at low speed or at idle, and off-highway.

Regardless, the new regulations will certainly impact end users, who may be discouraged from, or financially penalized for, buying that classic-styled long-nose tractor they know and love. Fortunately, the GHG regs have been broken into separate categories based on application. A log truck won’t be required to attach trailer fairings, which would serve no purpose in the bush.

For vocational truck operators, initially they’ll only be required to spec’ low rolling resistance tires, but even that won’t sit well with some operators. Traditionally, loggers choose tires that are not designed for maximum fuel efficiency, but rather for chip and cut resistance and traction. OEMs will need to encourage the adoption of fuel-efficient low rolling resistance tires in order to meet the requirements of the new regulations. That’s not to say you won’t be able to buy a long nose conventional truck fitted with open shoulder, deep lug tires – you’ll just have to pay more for the privilege.

“It’s really on us (to comply),” says Alan Fennimore, vocational truck marketing manager with Kenworth. “If we don’t sell enough GHG-compliant vehicles in a year and we’re short 10 vehicles, it’s on us to retrofit those vehicles and to force owners to change their vehicles to become compliant and to put us into a neutral state.”

Tires will be scored based on their fuel efficiency and will be assigned either positive or negative credits. To comply with the GHG14 standard, the truck will need to be in a credit-neutral or credit-positive state when it leaves the factory. The intent is for the truck to remain that way, but it remains to be seen what will be done, if anything, to prevent a dealer or customer from swapping out the tires for a preferred design that’s less fuel-efficient.

“That’s the question of the day,” says Stephen Laskowski, senior vice-president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA). “When you read the U.S. rule, which is far more detailed in terms of enforcement, their general direction is that when a GHG-certified vehicle is delivered from the factory to the retailer and then to the consumer, it was EPA’s stated goal that the vehicle’s performance stays intact, meaning the equipment stays on board. But how do you go about enforcing tires? That remains an open question.”

“For the life of me, I can’t see how they’re going to audit this,” adds David McKenna, director of powertrain sales with Mack Trucks. “They trucks we build today, once they go out in the field, customers take fairings off, they lengthen the wheelbase . . . all that stuff impacts our original GEM (greenhouse gas emissions) models.”

Will we see Environment Canada enforcement officers crawling through the bush, inspecting tires? Not likely. But theoretically, GHG-compliant trucks are meant to stay that way through their life cycle. The CTA’s Laskowski is hopeful that fuel savings delivered by the low rolling resistance tires will be incentive enough to leave them on and eventually replace them with similar models.

“If it’s getting better fuel economy, why would the owner of the truck want to mess around with that?” he asks.

Loggers may have their reasons. Consider that Kenworth’s most popular vocational truck tire is the Bridgestone M711 and that model is being replaced because it would carry so many negative points as to become infeasible under the new rules.
“That’s not going to make a lot of people happy,” Fennimore says. “It’s our most popular vocational tire by far. Forty-five per cent of our vocational tires run that M711.”

Navistar Shifts Gears
On another emissions-related note, Navistar International, the lone truck and engine manufacturer to pursue EPA2010 emissions targets without the use of SCR and DEF, has had to pull the plug on its controversial Advanced EGR strategy, which would have eliminated NOx in-cylinder with no exhaust after treatment.

The company, which was adamantly opposed to requiring its customers to add a second fluid (urea-based DEF is a necessary ingredient for SCR systems), was unable to get its engines certified before running out of credits it had earned for being cleaner than required in previous emissions go-rounds.

This is significant for truckers, as it means all manufacturers will now use SCR and DEF. The good news is, SCR has worked really well since all other manufacturers introduced it in 2010 and it has proven to improve fuel economy to the tune of about five per cent. It’s not such great news for Navistar, which had spent years and countless millions developing its A-EGR engine technology. Navistar’s chairman and CEO Dan Ustian paid the ultimate price for the gamble, as he was replaced in the corner office soon after the new strategy was announced.

International truck customers who want to get their hands on the last of the non-SCR vehicles should act soon. The company can continue producing and selling non-compliant engines by paying non-conformance penalties and redeeming the last of its emissions credits. In the new year, however, International MaxxForce engines will combine EGR with SCR in what International has dubbed ICT+ (In Cylinder Technology Plus). It has also made amends with Cummins, whose engines it stopped offering when Cummins too, announced it was changing course to adopt SCR, ­ but Cummins did so in 2008, well ahead of the 2010 standard.

The Cummins ISX15 will be offered in International trucks beginning in January, which will be welcome news for International customers who have been without a 15-litre option since 2010. Navistar hasn’t yet decided whether or not it will continue development of its own MaxxForce 15.

Complicating matters is the fact Navistar is the engine supplier for Caterpillar’s new CT660 vocational truck, which could eventually prove popular with loggers. If Navistar abandons its own 15-litre engine project, will we someday see a Cat truck with its longtime rival’s ISX15 engine under the hood? It seems unthinkable, but crazier things have happened. Or have they?

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