Digital technologies are fuelling the latest transformation within forestry, and data analytics, in particular, is giving foresters new insight to help them make better decisions that improve efficiency and performance.
Data is driving the next wave of innovation,” says Doug Jones, Remsoft’s Senior Vice-President. “As companies become more data efficient, not just capturing data but also mining it for insights using data analytics, they are learning more about their business – where and how to improve. By finding these hidden opportunities for improvement you can innovate to stay ahead of the curve and be cost competitive.”
Better supply chain visibility
While the complexity of forestry presents a multitude of management challenges, it also makes forestry operations an ideal fit for data analytics and planning optimization.
On any given day, forestry planners make critical decisions that impact both current operations and future activities. Decisions made at one point in the supply chain often have ripple effects farther down. Having multiple decision variables to consider at each point makes it difficult to find the best path forward.
With a central platform for operations management and planning optimization you can automate and add rigor to existing processes with data analytics. “Leveraging cloud technologies, optimization modeling and AI you can now use analytics to drive more confident decisions based on data,” explains Jones.
Another challenge many planners face is a lack of visibility. Relying on manual processes and fragmented data makes planning cumbersome and time consuming. There are also blind spots that make it hard to see the road ahead. With a unified planning platform, all your data is integrated, workflows are connected and routine processes can be automated to save time.
A leader in forest intelligence
Remsoft has been helping forestry companies turn data into intelligence for 30 years. Their Remsoft Operations cloud and Sales and Operations (S&OP) Optimization application work together as part of an end-to-end solution that gives planners decision support at every point in the supply chain.
Remsoft’s S&OP Optimization application allows planners to model the forest supply chain and balance important factors like timing, mill demand, haul costs, crews and equipment. By optimizing harvest and delivery schedules, you can assign the right crews and systems to the right harvest blocks at the right time to fulfill sales contracts, reduce costs and maximize revenue.
Remsoft Operations is a planning analytics application that provides insight and visibility into every aspect of operations for real time planning and scheduling. It also makes data and insight available anytime, anywhere in the cloud. You get a unified view of the forest supply chain and instant access to harvest, allocation and delivery information. By centralizing data, you get a single source of truth, improving data access, quality and control. And with input from the S&OP model, the team can be confident they are always working with the best plan.
One of its newest features is a Transportation Scheduling module that allows planners to assign fleets to road-side inventory and create delivery schedules from the unit to the mill. With the ability to define both fleet capacity and the cycle times between units and destinations, planners can create schedules that show both the daily product volume expected at a mill and the number of days it will take a transportation fleet to complete a delivery assignment.
Reducing freight costs
Wood transportation offers a clear example of how the combined benefits of Remsoft Operations and S&OP Optimization play out in the real world.
Transporting logs from the forest to the mill is known to be one of the biggest costs associated with producing lumber and pulp. Therefore, anytime you can find efficiencies in freight and make better decisions about how to schedule and manage forest operations, you can reduce costs significantly.
Using the combined capabilities of Remsoft’s planning and optimization applications, you can allocate wood to the right destinations to minimize freight costs by running routines and optimization schedules to find out the best place to move the wood to maximize your margin and meet your contracts.
If you have a complex supply chain with lots of options on where to send that wood, there are lots of choices. And what mathematical optimization will do is find the very best choice,” says Jones.
Seeing the future
Intelligent analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are revolutionizing efficiency in almost every industrial sector, including forestry. To help companies prepare for the next wave of opportunities, Remsoft has added AI capabilities within its technology. Remsoft Operations clients can use their operational data to train sophisticated AI models and make model-based predictions on planning drivers such as unit volume, productivity, costs, and harvest delay.
“There’s exciting potential for AI and ML to help foresters make better decisions both in the long and near term,” says Jones. “What used to be futuristic possibility is now achievable – these capabilities are real and available today.”
[Originally published in Australian Forests & Timber News.]