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Machinex’s Jonathan Ménard Sees AI as a Gamechanger in Waste and Recycling

For more than 13 years, Jonathan Ménard, P. Eng, has been an expert in sorting solutions focusing on optimization and best practices in MRFs design. He is always on the lookout for cutting-edge technologies and major market trends in North America and in the international level.

For more than 13 years, Jonathan Ménard, P. Eng, has been an expert in sorting solutions focusing on optimization and best practices in MRFs design. He is always on the lookout for cutting-edge technologies and major market trends in North America and in the international level.

As VP Sales & Strategic Positioning for Machinex Industries, Ménard focuses on the continuous expansion of Machinex's presence in European and other international markets while also strategically diversifying the company within the continuously evolving waste management marketplaces.

“My role is carefully positioned to provide a direct link between R&D and end market applications,” he says. “However, more importantly, my wider role is constantly evolving in line with the developments in technology and industry requirements, with a view to increasing Machinex’s business diversification and maintaining our strong position in the market, while respecting and developing our mission: ‘Design solution for a sustainable tomorrow’.”  

After graduating from Laval University in 2007 with his Mechanical Engineering Degree and in 2008 with his Business Management Degree from HEC Montreal University, Ménard encountered an unexpected opportunity in waste and recycling.

“As a fresh-faced university graduate from engineering and business schools, people … realized I loved to talk,” says Menard. “However, like many people within the industry, waste and recycling was an unexpected opportunity rather than a career goal.”

Although, this career may never have happened. Being an enthusiastic candidate, Menard drove 4 hours through a snowstorm to get to the Machinex office in Plessisville, (QC, Canada), only to realize that he had arrived on the wrong day.

“However, with as much confidence as I could find, when I did attend the following week, arguably with some reticence,” says Menard. “I then first met with Pierre Pare, Machinex President, and I still can remember the feeling when he came in the room, and we started talking. It was such a strong bond. I felt the room come alive, not something that often happens in interviews. I told myself at that point that I wanted to work for this man.”

This led Menard to his true calling as an expert in optimization and best practices in MRFs design.

“Learning from my colleagues, being fortunate to be surrounded by talented, driven, and dedicated people, and visiting many existing MRFs to understand the daily operation behind the design (helped),” says Menard. “Leading on to participating in startup and performance tests of new facilities, including detailed material audits. This very much helped me to develop my analytical skills, which always pushed me the ‘scientize’ the process as much as possible utilizing flow chart and mass balance with statistical methodology as an intrinsic part of the design process.”

Menard’s career goal is to strongly support the continued development and growth of Machinex within the wider waste and recycling industry.

“(I want to) play a key role within the migration of Machinex from a pure manufacturing company to a clean tech company,” he says. “Continue to diversify Machinex activities to further enhance and solidify business recurrence, two good examples being our expansion in distribution centers and deposit return scheme worldwide. To ensure Machinex increases its position as a key player within the complete sustainable economy. Lastly, potentially the most important and the most difficult is to try harder to ensure a good healthy work / life balance, easier said than done.”

The upcoming, industry technology that has Menard excited is the almost infinite power AI will have on sorting processes.

“AI is a powerful tool to extract, archive and compute localized equipment and/or MRF process KPIs. Once programmed, this will allow to create a real level of interconnectivity between the different sorting machines. Based on the data computed somewhere in the facility, this will allow the machines to adjust their settings on the fly which will assure a better quality, more stable and traceable output products coming out of our MRFs.”

When it comes to giving advice to those new to waste and recycling, Menard reminds them that they work in an ever-changing and diverse industry that offers challenges, successes, and frustrations sometimes in equal measure.

“Internally within Machinex, to keep the faith as all striving together we can make a real difference,” he says. “Automation is key to future development, systems, and facilities. Trust the developers such as Machinex, to provide viable solutions.”

In the next few years, Menard says he see himself at Machinex as a motion generator and forward thinker with a vision.

“It takes a lot of energy to generate motion, but it is hard to sustain this level of energy once the object is in motion, hence why I need a fantastic team around to deploy, implement and stabilize the projects,” says Menard. “The challenge is to feed the team with the right vision without overwhelming it. My role has recently been adjusted to enable me to develop new wider industry opportunities from scratch whilst still respecting our mission. I would easily see myself doing this for the next 5 years, but I am sure new opportunities will increase the challenges.”




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