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Mining, forestry suppliers unite to offer industry "packaged solutions".

Words like "co-operation" and "common front" are part of the new lingua franca of Northern Ontario.

From big-city mayors to provincial cabinet ministers, the talk is that northerners need to band together to survive.

For Tom Palangio and Andre Ruest, however, these words are not just talk, they are the new reality.

Palangio, vice-president and marketing manager of Wipware, and Ruest, manager of B & D Manufacturing, have entered into a joint five-year distribution agreement covering all of North America that will see B & D distribute Wipware's line of mining photo-analysis software to the forestry and pulp and paper industry.

Both parties declined to put a price tag on the agreement at this point.

What makes the strategic alliance so unique, they contend, is that it represents an uncommon co-operation on an economic and research level, between the major northern natural resource-based industries: mining and forestry.

"It seems like people throughout the world are looking for packaged solutions. In North America, we're more innovative," he says.

Wipware develops software for use in the explosives, mining and aggregate industries. Wipware is located outside North Bay in Bonfield.

B & D is a Sudbury mining and forestry heavy equipment supplier dealing mainly with precision align boring machines, hydraulic and pneumatic rock drill parts.

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The basis of the agreement between the two came when it was agreed that some of the software technology developed by Wipware could be useful to B & D.

"Some of his software used currently in the mining industry can be applied to forestry," says Ruest.

Wipware maintains a line of photo-analysis products B & D is particularly interested in. Photo-analysis software makes use of high-speed photography that stores images and through software measures fragment edges and sizes when blasting rock. The software is used by quarry operators, mining companies and explosives engineers to measure and control blast fragmentation. Ruest says the technology could find use in measuring wood chips and controlling cutting speeds as a way to improve quality control in the forest sector. Wipware is presently adapting the technology for this purpose.

The alliance has also given focus for B & D in terms of technological innovation. The company created a special group, B & D Solutions, to look into other uses of Wipware technology in the forestry industry. Ruest views the group as part of a new research and development arm of the company that will help in developing all types of new technologies.

Ruest says the agreement is part of B & D's recent desire to expand its market for equipment.

The deal, Pelangio says, will see them gain access to an industry and market that was otherwise uncharted territory for them.

Palangio and Ruest met originally through the Sudbury Area Mining Supply and Service Association. Palangio and Ruest later solidified an agreement on distribution at a mining trade conference in Chile.

By JOSEPH QUESNEL

Northern Ontario Business
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Title Annotation:Special Report: Mining; Wipware
Author:Quesnel, Joseph
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Words:478
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