Voith launches merQbiz, a digital trading platform for the paper industry
Heidenheim, Germany-based Voith has joined forces with the Boston Consulting Group Digital Ventures – a subsidiary of the Boston Consulting Group – to establish a digital marketplace for the paper industry. The joint venture has been named merQbiz after Mercury, the Roman god of trade.
The merQbiz company has its headquarters in Manhattan Beach, CA. John Fox, previous president of Voith Paper in North America, has been named merQbiz CEO.
The first product solution from merQbiz is the first digital trading platform for recovered paper in the US, initially aimed at market participants of the North American paper industry.
Voith says the North American recovered paper market has so far been characterized by strong fragmentation, with many different market participants, inconsistent supply and logistics chains, low levels of price transparency and fluctuating product qualities.
The merQbiz trading platform is designed to let traders and buyers from pulp and paper mills, paper brokers and recycling companies directly network with one another and receive all the relevant information on supply and demand. They can also conduct their buying and selling transactions securely on the trading platform. Like many well-known online marketplaces, merQbiz can take over the evaluation of the sellers and buyers and the quality of the merchandise. This ensures enhanced transactional transparency, professional processing and a high level of security for all goods, logistics and payment flows.
Recovered paper is a critical commodity for paper manufacturing. An example would be a containerboard mill, which requires around 350,000 tons of recovered paper per year. This is equivalent to roughly 100 truckloads per day and costs of around $US40 million/year. “Thanks to merQbiz, the buying and selling of recovered paper can be processed securely and quickly and the paper industry is provided with a predictable and scalable inflow of recovered paper – a resource that’s essential for the operation of paper mills,” says Fox.
In its first two weeks on line, the trading platform for recovered paper had traded more than 100 tons of recovered paper. The platform also networks logistics services companies that transport the goods from point A to point B.
For Voith, merQbiz is another major step in becoming one of the significant players of the digital industry. Voith plans to invest about €50 million in the setup of the venture by the end of fiscal 2020. The course for the group’s digital agenda was set in April 2016, when Voith founded its Voith Digital Solutions division. With this, Voith takes three strategic directions: first, supplementing its existing product portfolio with additional, digital capabilities that offer customers extended functions and added value; second, developing new digital solutions in the traditional core markets; third, developing new products and business models for markets to date not covered by Voith.