by Rafael Naumann,
June 11st, 2019
At a time when details make the difference, control is paramount
The cost raise of raw materials, fuels and labor above inflation makes companies to focus on control
In the last 60 years, Brazil has seen the national forest industry move from a level of complete amateurism to an avantgarde industry boasting a unique technology, making the country a pioneer, capable of dictating rules on the development of best practices for a coeval and productive forest.
Unlike the countries in the Northern Hemisphere, whose soil and climate conditions give forests unique development, productivity, quality and cost features, Brazil lives in an oasis where the availability of land and the conditions of forest development are no obstacle. It is as if we say we have no brakes. This fact has leveraged research aimed at exponentially increasing the forest productivity, whether through the development of clones of eucalyptus species or continuous genetic improvement, as well as the refinement of the best practices that must be carried out in order to achieve the ultimate goal.
On the other hand, recent changes in Brazil’s water regime across almost all its regions have made the achievement of goals, once considered relatively easy, much trickier. The economic scenario has also negatively influenced the progress and development of the Brazilian forest market. The cost raise of raw materials, fuels and labor above inflation has put an extra burden on companies which must curb these costs on their products, in order to remain competitive on the internal and external markets.
Cost reduction is the watchword in most companies in Brazil these days, which is only possible when you have a well-known and controlled process. In addition, optimizations and improvements follow the same premise. Everything is intertwined.
Control through knowledge
The refinement of the Brazilian forest process has allowed for certain adjustments in plot or genetic material processes, rather than in projects or regions. That is, today, top-level companies have (or may have) fertilization prescription per plot and genetic material, besides the silvicultural treatments specific to each situation, whose need and operationalization are also affected by the region, site, genetic material, etc. This refinement allows the optimization of forest development and, in general, brings savings to the companies, since only the resources strictly necessary for the achievement of goals are made available. In the end, a more productive and cost-effective forest is generated.
As previously stated, this is only possible if a controlled process is to be applied. Process variations generate a large amount of information to be monitored and handled. Deviations are not acceptable when the optimum is desired. The definition of an operational prescription, i.e., what activities should be carried out and in what period of time, establishes between the lines that the operation should be carried out according to these premises, otherwise there may be impacts on productivity and forest quality.
Obviously, we are talking about biological assets influenced by several factors not controlled by companies, such as the rainfall regime, for example. Operationally, carrying out all the activities within an established prescription is often not easy, especially in companies with very extensive bases and large scale production, but this should be sought at all costs. The fulfillment of this requirement means that some variables that affect production and quality are scrapped, making it easier (or less difficult) to evaluate the whole process, and allowing more assertive decision making to correct problems in the production process. That is, a more objective and less subjective decision is taken.
Centralized and accessible information
When a vertical production process exists, in which the company manages its lands, plants and maintains its forests, harvests and processes the timber and by-products, the interface between these areas may be the reason for the abovementioned mismatch, simply because the information is often decentralized, depending on each area so that it is updated and passed on.
Changes in the operational/budget plan in progress often catch other areas by surprise, simply because the changes are unilateral and the information is not interconnected. Example are the changes in the process of forest harvesting, which is defined by the cutting either this or that plot. Depending on what is planned, harvesting changes directly and strongly affect the scheduling of forestry activities.
With centralized information, any harvesting changes automatically generate the updates needed for the silviculture planning. According to the management applied to the plot and the operational prescription for this management, changes in the harvesting process generate an automatic reprogramming of all the activities related to a certain plot, from harvest until the end of the next cycle or rotation.
The process at your fingertips
When a well-adjusted process is applied, with a clear definition of what is to be harvested, planted, in addition to all the activities required for maintenance and development, the whole process becomes adaptable, allowing one to see details that can be altered in order to optimize this process.
But this is only possible when you have the process at your fingertips. Companies will never be able to manage precisely what they do not effectively control. Without that, the routine becomes a trial-and-error experience, often sustained by the more experienced, who have had a chance to make mistakes in the past. But is this acceptable today?
INFLOR, a leader in forest management systems, helps companies maximize their forest asset management performance and promotes more assertiveness in decision making, by providing systems that enable them to gather and manage information on the entire process, making it available for users in real time.