2018 Global TIA winners and finalists turn ideas into profits

Good ideas become great solutions when they address problems in a novel way and yield tangible results. In line with the 2018 Global Technical Innovation Awards’ theme, ‘Thinking together’, the winning team from Sappi Maastricht Mill collaborated to bring about a packaging machine improvement that will impact our bottom line.

From left: Gary Bowles (Group Head Technology), Steve Binnie (CEO Sappi Limited), Tjerk Boersma (member of the Global TIA winning team) Berry Wiersum (CEO Sappi Europe) and Jos Daniels (member of Global TIA winning team).

At the global awards ceremony held in Venice on 06 May 2019, Multilayer Headbox project team - Tjerk Boersma, Jos Daniels, Rob de Koning, Jean Peerlings and Peter Pijpers - were named the 2018 winners for designing a completely new ‘three layers in one headbox’ for paper board packaging that combines good printability with high bulk and good creasability.

This step-change technology was successfully applied to the rebuild of PM6, making Maastricht Mill the only producer worldwide to use this novel concept for its packaging product range. An added benefit is that it opens the possibility to develop other grades.

“With innovation must come delivery and successful management of concepts – from idea generation through to completion and a meaningful impact on our profitability,” said Sappi CEO Steve Binnie. He stressed that innovation is at the heart of Sappi’s strategy. No growth is possible without innovation. He reminded the audience that for Sappi, innovation is not an end in itself, but rather it must provide a sustainable, competitive advantage that will make a significant difference. He praised the excellent collaboration which the projects displayed, and encouraged even closer collaboration between R&D, Sales and Marketing, HR and all other functions.

Global TIA finalists

The powerful combination of innovative thinking, teamwork and turning a good idea into a workable solution, also led to success among our regional Global TIA finalists.

In Sappi North America, the team from Cloquet Mill, the SNA Technology Center and the SSA Technology Centre – Lester Li, Dan Menor, Nelson Sefara and Brad Yliniemi – developed a near-infrared technique to reduce pulp transition waste at Cloquet Mill.

From left: Mark Gardner (CEO Sappi North America), Dan Menor (member of the Global TIA finalist team – Cloquet Mill, the SNA Technology Centre and the SSA Technology Centre), Nelson Sefara (member of the Global TIA finalist team – Cloquet Mill, the SNA Technology Centre and the SSA Technology Centre), Brad Yliniemi (member of the Global TIA finalist team – Cloquet Mill, the SNA Technology Centre and the SSA Technology Centre). Not pictured: Lester Li.

In South Africa, regional winning team from Tugela Mill - Ricky Singh and Ernst Vos - managed to increase neutral sulphite semi-chemical (NSSC) digester capacity to meet the growing demand for the mill’s Ultraflute product.

From left: Alex Thiel (CEO Sappi Southern Africa), Ernst Vos (member of the Global TIA finalist team – Tugela Mill) and Ricky Singh (member of the Global TIA finalist team – Tugela Mill).

“The global marketplace – together with existing and future customers – makes it an absolute necessity to drive innovation that creates value and continued sustainability,” said Gary Bowles, Group Head Technology. “The finalists for 2018 reflect the breadth of topics that innovation covers at Sappi. The 2018 TIA finalists have contributed to these goals by developing products and processes with exceptional qualities in line with our values. Well done and thank you for contributing to Sappi’s success.” He also indicated that a pilot project will be launched to expand the drive for innovation in Sappi beyond technical innovation, to ensure that we capture even more opportunities in a rapidly changing world.

Other TIA finalists in each of the regions were:


  • The Material flow forecast team from Gratkorn Mill - Franz Fleck, Walter Fulterer, Kadvael Le Boulch Rauno Timperi and Eric Zeyringer
  • The CTMP refiner segments team from Lanaken Mill – Jajal Alajdi El Idrissi and Frans Rondags

North America

  • The McCoy Gift Card team from Cloquet Mill and the SNA Technology Center – Barry Beyer, Nikki Colborn, Ken Jewett and Jeff Whittum
  • The Odin project team (fibre reductions on text weights) from Cloquet Mill and the SNA Technology Center - Jessica Adams, Brad Browers, Joe Fernandez, Raynelle Meseroll and Jeff Whittum

South Africa

  • Project Rufus and Ngodwana Mill and the SSA Technology Centre – Berdine Coetzee, Hunphrey Landman, Rendani Madula, Sanet Minnaar and Johann Wauts
  • The PM2 project improvements team from Tugela Mill – JP Cillie, Devan Perumal and Atish Singh