by Guilherme Brunoro

February 19th, 2018

10 steps to choose a forest management system

The system needs to bring operational and financial gains in various stages of the forest process.

How to combine productivity and profitability with sustainability in Forest Management? How to analyze in an agile, structured and safe way the technological, economic, social and environmental aspects in decision making? How to plan and control operations and resource use, considering all the variables that impact on the forest process? How to deploy the strategic planning goals in operational actions, within each forest process? How to achieve cost goals? How to simulate productivity and cost of operations before execution? How to analyze the impacts within the entire forest chain? How to analyze the accomplished activities and explain deviations?

Answering these questions is a daily task for forest process managers and the use of Forest Management Systems has been the solution to these issues. Check out the main aspects to be observed when choosing a good forest management system for your company.

1.    Supplier

When purchasing a product or service, the consumer is always aware of the reputation that brand or supplier has gained on the market. It should be no different in the choice of a forest management system. It is important to check how long the company has been on the market, its successful cases, its experience in the segment, market recognition (awards, certifications …), anyway, what is its reputation. It is also very important to seek testimonials from customers who use the solution, either through websites or direct contact in order to hear their opinion.

2.    ROI (Return On Investment)

The system needs to bring operational and financial gains in various stages of the forest process. It is important to evaluate if the system solves problems that directly affect the company’s results, for example: an error in measuring the area of the plots can generate a deficit or an annual surplus of wood. In addition to an area error, the registry, without proper consistencies and updating and auditing procedures, may have errors of spacing, genetic material, soil type, age, management scheme, topography, distance; any short-term change in the cutting sequence should be evaluated in the long term for the verification of impacts and the search for new alternatives. The lack of integration of the harvesting process with roads, silviculture and inventory means that a change in the unreported cutting sequence enables unnecessary operations such as: maintenance of roads in areas that will no longer be cut, pre-cutting mowing operations or ant-fighting, and forest measurement for Pre-Cutting Inventory.

In addition to solving these problems, it is important to evaluate whether the system enables the processes standardization to guarantee the objectives’ alignment and task execution within the corporate established standards; controls the operations execution with quality, costs reduction, either by avoiding repeating operations or by avoiding the loss of productivity; performs an efficient management of service providers, thus allowing for operational gains, reduced costs and elimination of liabilities; controls forest management by always seeking to increase productivity and reduce costs by choosing the most appropriate management, operation, timing, procedure, equipment, resources, and genetic materials; conducts land use management to ensure the sustainability and profitability of forestry activity; makes logistical management that represents a very significant cost within the production chain and, finally, the automation of processes from the use of systems, mobile devices and automated processes to increase the level of detail, reliability and availability of the information for decision making.

These are some bonus points in forest processes, which can be obtained through an integrated forest management system, also supported in some cases by changes in the way of operating, and processes and procedures restructuring. Some gains are direct, such as fixed cost reduction to plan and control operations, increased productivity, and rework reduction, which reduce variable costs. Others are indirect, such as avoiding legal, labor, and environmental and tax problems. There are also the intangibles ones, such as assisting the compliance with certification requirements, improving the relationship with stakeholders and maintaining the corporate image.

3.    Specific functionalities

It is important that the system have processes integration and perform the planning and control of forestry activities as an efficient, competitive, profitable and self-sustaining business, as well as that it treat different business models, taking into account forests, labor, equipment and own and third parties’ plants, aside from various handling forms and production technologies.

It is critical that the system plan and control all stages of forest formation and its maintenance, monitoring the physical production variables, as well as the financial amounts involved, working with cost scenarios, calculating and assessing the operating yield, and setting benchmarks and indicators for performance and productivity.

Check out if you can plan and prize, control, and fund all operations at the lowest detail level if you can achieve different levels of performance consolidation and productivity information for strategic, tactical, and operational analysis.

4.    Integration with ERP systems

Verify that the system works independently or integrated with a corporate resource management (ERP) system.

In order to streamline processes and guarantee the uniqueness of information, it is important that the system can be integrated with an ERP, performing automatic movements of stock materials and inputs; evaluation and accounting of operations; automatic feeding of basic master data tables: personnel, cost centers, accounting information, suppliers, customers, among others; and information consolidation for income statements.

5.    Automation

In order to maximize the team programming productivity and operations control, it is necessary to automate processesand simplify notes. Features such as those listed below reduce the need for labor to operate the systems:

• Integrations with on-board computer machines
• Integrations with meteorological stations
• Integrations with machine sensors
• Simplified programming (programming by standard cost, phase, regional, project or field)
• Forest stratification and creation of planning and control units
• Map and graph views

6.    Consistencies

Verify that the system has consistencies that ensure that forest area procedures are complied with and data is released correctly.

If the procedures are, still, on paper, it is necessary to create and maintain them, as well as to communicate and train the teams, and audit them to verify compliance. If these procedures are performed by the system, in addition to the agility and ease, there is a guarantee of compliance with the foreseen processes.

Some examples of consistencies that can be verified:

  • Do not allow the creation of a Dual Production Order.
  • To limit by area, volume or characteristic of land use or activity performed.
  • For a Silviculture activity: check whether it exists at the standard cost, whether it can be implemented for that type of soil use, whether the yield is within the predicted, whether it can be carried out at that time, whether input dosages are correct, whether it is the best technical and financial option, among others.

7.    GIS Tool

For the forest area, GIS is not only a thematic mapping tool, but also a tool for analysis, consistency and decision support. Functions required by the Forest System:

  • Flexible Web Access
  • Use of Images
  • Access for consultation of digital models: MDT and MDE
  • Topology rules
  • Allow navigation in areas through GPS
  • Spatial integrity functions: consist of whether the plot belongs to the correct municipality, its dimensions, avoiding overlapping and gaps, among others.

8.    Mobile devices

Mobility is critical considering that the forestry activity is carried out in rural and dispersed areas. Check out if there is a possibility of data collection in the field and if the operation can view them online, for the results monitoring and the assertiveness in the decision making.

It is imperative that the application enables you to eliminate note errors, anticipate validation errors, improve office-to-field communication, and access information any time at your fingertips, allowing for a quick and efficient decision making. This information, once synchronized with the smartphone, also needs to be consulted even without an Internet connection.

9.   Friendly interface

It is important that the system have a user-friendly and feature-rich interface to enable users to easily use it.

Some features to be noted:

  • To perform flexible and configurable queries
  • To consult and operate via maps
  • To export data in various formats
  • To sort by any attribute
  • To query the data dictionary
  • To access context-sensitive help
  • To navigate directly between the various modules

10. After sales

Just as important as choosing a good solution is whether the company that developed it offer adequate after-sales support, correcting or improving any system failures.

Verify the procedures of the after-sales service, if it has clear rules and if the company has a support call control system. Check out the service level flexibility of the Service Level Agreement (SLA) to define and measure the level of service provided by a support team.

Check out the system update frequency and, lastly, do not forget to check if the company conducts customer service satisfaction surveys.

Guide with key features and benefits of the INFLOR Forest system

Learn how leading companies in the industry are maximizing their bottom line through efficient management of their forest assets.

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