Pinnacle

Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc.

Helping Canada’s most successful pellet producer grow to third largest in the world

Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc. exports sustainable wood pellets worldwide to be used as an alternative to coal in power generation as well as industrial applications. For more than 15 years, the company has relied on inventive thinking from ANDRITZ to help meet their safety, quality, and productivity goals.

Pinnacle, founded more than 25 years ago in the heart of British Columbia’s lumber country, is the longest standing wood pellet producer in Western Canada. The company manufactures more than 1.4 million metric tons of pellets annually from their six western Canadian sites with two more sites scheduled to be up and running in the near future.

MEETING THE CHALLENGE

“We have always felt comfortable with ANDRITZ as a partner,” says Scott Bax, Senior Vice President of Operations at Pinnacle. “Safety, quality and productivity are paramount for us, and ANDRITZ has consistently enabled us to achieve all three. I can always rely on them for creative design and engineering solutions to meet our needs, and they are unique in the industry for the responsive and dedicated service they provide.”

At Pinnacle, operating sustainably is a fundamental business requirement. “Over 85% of our fiber is residual material from sawmills,” Bax says. “But our carbon footprint also depends on having highly efficient pellet mills. Together with ANDRITZ, we have achieved smooth operations and maximum tonnage for the energy consumed.”

BOOSTING OUTPUT

Recently, Pinnacle celebrated the installation of its 50th ANDRITZ LM26 pellet mill. As Pinnacle’s operations have expanded, so has the importance of the partnership. “Results count,” Bax says. “We export as far as Europe and Asia, so we need high productivity and consistency. Customers want to know that we can supply them with a consistent, high quality product from all of our sites, as they will often receive product from a number of different plants. With ANDRITZ, we know we can deliver.”

With the demand for sustainable fuels increasing, Pinnacle is always looking for ways to increase their tonnage. “Over the last three years, we have been able to increase productivity by 15%,” Bax says. “It’s quite an achievement, and the key is the transparent communication we have with ANDRITZ. We talk openly about challenges, and they do their utmost to solve them for us.”

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Safety, quality and productivity are paramount for us, and ANDRITZ has consistently enabled us to achieve all three. I can always rely on them for creative design and engineering solutions to meet our needs, and they are unique in the industry for the responsive and dedicated service they provide.

Scott Bax,
Senior Vice President of Operations

CREATIVE METHODS

Sometimes the approach is unconventional. “Last year, we ran a training boot camp together with ANDRITZ. They brought eight people to one of our plants for three days, including engineers and machine builders. Together we went through every aspect of our operational challenges as they relate to the engineered design of the mills. It was a huge success with far-reaching results.”

Another difference with ANDRITZ, Bax says, is access to varied expertise. “ANDRITZ regularly involves a diverse group of individuals in solving our challenges. We have direct contact with engineers, for example, and can exchange ideas and test solutions right away. It’s effective and saves a lot of time.”

This proactive approach can be seen throughout the business relationship. “It started with solving our geographical challenges,” Bax says. “Our plants are spread out over a wide area, up to 1,200 km apart. Together, we worked out a centralized inventory system, which has made a big difference for us. It gives us better control and eliminates the complications of multiple sites making orders. The relationship has grown from there.”

FOCUSED ON THE FUTURE

Bax adds that flexibility is needed to support Pinnacle’s growth ambitions. “Every new site has its own unique challenges. The fiber is different at each location, and you have to test and experiment to find the optimal approach. ANDRITZ supports us in this, for example allowing us to test and return different dies.”

Wood pellets are increasingly recognized as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels and will play an important role in helping utilities decarbonize the power grid. “A consistent product is a highly efficient energy source, and ANDRITZ enables us to achieve that consistency,” Bax says. “This is a competitive and price sensitive industry. The quality and service level we get from ANDRITZ is a big success factor – we wouldn’t consider switching partners!”

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