New Solutions for New Challenges

How an industry partnership provides tools for compliance and responsible trade in forest products

Ian Clarke
August 20, 2022
New Solutions for New Challenges

Earlier in 2021, Double Helix Tracking Technologies and 11Foundry partnered up to deliver a complete solution to managing supply chain risk for forest product importers and operators.

11Foundry’s FiberTrace™ cloud-based software enables companies to process, organise, and manage supply chain documents and records according to company policies and regulatory requirements such as the US Lacey Act and EU Timber Regulation. This is combined with DoubleHelix’s capabilities to assess and mitigate supply chain risk, working with suppliers to collect, verify and analyse hard-to-get supply chain data across the world. The combination of DoubleHelix’s in-country resources, together with 11Foundry’s powerful software, results in a comprehensive beginning-to-end compliance tool for different challenges. This allows customers to not just manage risk exposure, but to differentiate their products and create real commercial value in a rapidly changing market. 11Foundry co-founder and Managing Director Colin Miller explains:

“As companies apply an ever-greater emphasis on responsible sourcing and environmental sustainability criteria, our partnership enables companies to foresee and manage diverse risks, even those associated with climate-related indicators like forest fires and deforestation."

“With DoubleHelix’s capabilities to verify information – on the ground all over the world – FiberTrace customers can receive customized risk profiles, recommendations, and enriched surveillance of their supply chains within our platform."

“Every tree is supported by its roots. In a similar way, sustainability management and supply chain control is only as strong as the knowledge it is built on. DoubleHelix helps our customers verify and secure their knowledge at its source so that they can trust the process that FiberTrace enables," Mr Miller asserts.

Max Horowitz-Burdick, Director of the Americas for DoubleHelix, adds:

“This goes beyond managing legal compliance risk. We are providing customers with a complete tool that improves business intelligence, facilitates internal communication, creates efficiencies, and helps customers communicate the strength of their supply chain control to downstream buyers, establishing themselves as leaders in the industry.”

The partnership has allowed each company’s services to reach a wide cross-section of the forest products industry, from those companies with well-developed, sophisticated risk management systems to smaller operations looking to improve their supply chain knowledge and control. Indeed, the combined solution is already deployed in supply chains across multiple continents, helping customers realize the value and possibilities associated with this new approach to compliance.

Clarke Veneers and Plywood President Stuart Clarke says of FiberTrace:

“We love the product. It’s tailor-made to meet the compliance requirements of our industry, in terms of documentation, organization, and maintenance.”

For the Austria-based forest products company JAF, FiberTrace is seen as a user-friendly and state of the art risk assessment tool, helping to manage complex compliance data, while offering the flexibility to fit in with existing company due diligence procedures. Amani Abdalla, JAF’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, puts it this way:

“This tool is a smart and helpful asset for every supply chain administrator, as well as every company that needs to comply with global timber trading regulations.”

DoubleHelix CEO and co-founder Darren Thomas considers the services it provides as key to building trust in wood products and fostering long-term, sustainable, equitable trade in forest products:

“Our partnership with 11Foundry enables us to better deliver on what we exist for: To grow the market share of responsible forest products in order to displace illegal, unsustainable and undesirable alternatives that contribute to deforestation and climate change.

“We work with businesses so they and their customers can understand their products’ journey from forest to market and appreciate their intrinsic value.”

He provides a case study to illustrate how DoubleHelix works to effectively manage risks associated with the global timber supply, and how FiberTrace helps leverage that work for clients on an operational level across their organization.

In 2017, Brooks Bros (UK) Ltd wanted to provide assurance to its customers that its flooring products sourced from China were all manufactured from oak harvested from PEFC-certified forests in Western Europe, and not subject to mixing with other forest sources in any way. In the process, they wanted to clearly communicate that their market-leading actions met rigid Responsible Purchasing Policy standards.

Through its Asia team, DoubleHelix was able to carry out desk-based and on-site risk assessments to map out the supply chain and identify any risks of mixing with unknown forest sources. To further mitigate risk, they worked with the manufacturer to implement a customized verification process of document checks and random isotope testing to control every batch of raw material delivered to the factory.

“Now with FiberTrace as an additional tool, we are able to further systematize our operations to manage evidence and data associated with supply chain due diligence. This aids communication with internal teams to help decision-making, as well as communication with external stakeholders to support compliance, investor relations, and marketing,” says Mr Thomas.

“DoubleHelix has been so impressed by the FiberTrace platform that we use it internally to organise and share our knowledge library, as well as to simplify and improve our reporting outputs to our clients, even if they do not use the FiberTrace platform themselves,” he confirmed.

Neither company is taking this initial success for granted, and both have big plans for the future. Mr Horowitz-Burdick states:

“We have laid the groundwork. We know our services play well together and offer something new and necessary to the forest products industry. The goals now are to see how far we can take it. We want to keep pushing the boundaries of what people think is possible and how ‘compliance’ is currently seen.”

“We have plans in the works to run DoubleHelix-backed FiberTrace data via immutable ledger platforms and explore how a blockchain approach might add another layer of trust and value to the system.”

“We are also exploring integrated form tools that allow downstream suppliers to directly and easily provide critical information from the convenience of their smartphones, as well as mapping tools to integrate satellite monitoring of natural resources of a specific supply chain. All of this can be housed and managed inside FiberTrace and verified by DoubleHelix,” Mr Horowitz-Burdick advised.  

“We value DoubleHelix’s partnership and shared vision and we are excited about the solutions that FiberTrace enables for responsible businesses of every scale in our industry”, Mr Miller continues: “We believe in cooperation across this space, and alliances with expert partners like DoubleHelix are core to our conception of a safe, sustainable, and productive future for forest products. Our vision has always been business that does good for communities and for our planet, and I think the trail forward has to be blazed by innovation. That’s what DoubleHelix and 11Foundry are doing together,” Mr Miller concludes.

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