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Logistics in timber production — state-of-the-art and perspectives

Heinimann, HansRudolf
Forstwissenschaftliches Centralblatt 1999 v.118 no.1-6 pp. 24-38
communications technology, contractors, cutting, economic sectors, engineering, globalization, markets, ownership, private enterprises, product quality, sales, supply chain, timber production, wood, Central European region
Today’s society is subject to the biggest structural change since the industrial revolution. Two trends are accelerating this process in all economic sectors: the development of information and communication technology and the increasing globalization of sales and procurement markets. The wood market has changed from a seller’s to a buyer’s market, too. Competition has intensified forcing the producers to continuously improve their competitiveness. The main challenges are shorter delivery times, greater flexibility, and better product quality. Logistics is a field within production engineering offering concepts and methods to optimize material and information flows along the whole value chain. For forestry, too, it offers immense potentials to improve competitiveness.The value chain is the starting-point for the optimization of material and information flows. Each cutting unit is treated as an order executed at a time based on market demands. Decisive logistics aim to arrange the sequence of cutting units in order to best satisfy customer needs. Within a single cutting unit bucking decisions suit log dimensions and quality to customer requirements. Administrative logistics combines the physical value chain with information flows. It guarantees that quantities, cost and quality of products come as close as possible to customer needs. Small-scaled stand and owner structures of forestry in Central Europe make it difficult to implement wood production logistics. We need to find organizational structures that separate ownership and production units. One approach is that of “virtual business units” that organizes contractors and private enterprises in networks. It will be one of the duties of research and development to find adequate solutions for logistics in forestry that have to be tested within pilot projects.