A fundamental process in the logging industry is keeping track of loads delivered from the woods to the mill. This is a process where inefficiencies abound, as loggers, dealers, and procurement teams accumulate time and expense accounting for these loads. A wood dealer representative once told me that his company spends 10-20% of the work week manually collecting and entering delivery tickets into spreadsheets. It’s hard to believe that in the technology age we are still tracking deliveries in this manner. If there’s a chance your company can benefit from load tracking software, this article will identify some modestly priced technologies that are currently available.
In the Agriculture business, food companies are using apps and connected devices to track commodities from crop fields to the retail shelves. With some foresight and information, I believe Forest Products businesses can benefit from this technology as well.
Going back to my early days as a forester, I worked for a company that used duplicate load tickets to account for loads. These pre-printed tickets were provided to a logger, who would fill out a ticket for each load, and leave a carbon copy on the job site. Employees would gather the carbon copies weekly and enter them into a database or spreadsheet. The original was attached to the scale ticket and returned with the weekly payment reconciliation statement. That was fifteen years ago, and today some loggers, dealers and procurement teams are still using using paper-based delivery mechanisms for tracking loads. This is a time consuming and error-prone process with potential for problems such as unaccounted and mislabeled loads.
In a perfect world, the supply-chain accounting process would be fully automated. Loads leaving the woods would be tracked from the log set, to the mill, and throughout the manufacturing process, all the way to the end user. Actually, we are closer to this solution than one might think, and as I mentioned above, Agriculture entities have already begun using this technology.
Catenaut, LLC, a small forest technology company has developed a concept called Blockchain of Custody that could provide the forest industry with this type of automation and chain-of-custody.
Below are a few software solutions that can be adopted and customized for tracking log loads.
TimberGuide Pro by Genesis Industries – this is a mobile app and web based solution that provides digital form-based tracking of forest assets, including loads in route to the mill. Users can create forms that are completed in the field (with or without network connectivity) and synchronized with a remote database. Company Administrators are able to create personalized load books or trip ticket forms to suit their operation, and users can complete these forms using iPhone or iPad devices. The forms are geotagged to GPS coordinates, and may even incorporate barcode scanning functions if desired. The nice thing about this system is its flexibility, long-term secure storage, and broad functionality. Nearly any process a company wants to track in the field can be automated with this app. Secondly, it includes additional mapping features, reporting features, and report query tools. A typical logging crew (cutter, one-two skidders, and a loader) can implement this app for around $1,200 per year.
iDeliveredIt by Catenaut – this is an iOS compatible app that was designed specifically for tracking log loads. With this app, users can scan gate pass, loop card, or scale tickets from the mill and automatically combine them with trip details such as product, destination and origination point. Users can export the data from this app directly to an Excel spreadsheet. This particular app is about $2, but may require additional upgrades or customization for a more robust solution. If you are interested in this particular app, contact the company directly at www.catenaut.com.
Catenaut offers services to customize their mobile apps or software solutions, for a developer fee. Catenaut has several products that fit the timber harvesting and productivity niche, including a Forest Management Compliance system for tracking timber harvests, and a Turn Around Time Monitoring solution for mills and production facilities.
In this article, we presented some of the inefficiencies involved in accounting for harvest loads. Little has changed in these processes over the last decade or so, and many small to mid-sized companies are still using a paper-based, error-prone system. If you are interested in this technology or other solutions, please contact Catenaut, LLC.