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Digital transformation in the forestry industry – what is needed

Industries across the world are witnessing a wave of digital transformation through disruptive technologies that promise to change the whole landscape of how things are done.

As an industry, forestry has not been left behind, and digital transformation has made its way into it.

However, technological advancements have surprisingly not made many changes in the processes within the industry.

  • We indeed have various software to speed things up with operations but are we really automating processes?
  • Have we been able to eliminate brokers or intermediaries who claim to facilitate processes within the industry but actually add layers that translate to complexity?

In simple terms, most enterprises perceive digitalization as a priority in their operations, but the truth is it is an uphill task to embrace digital transformation fully, especially when it comes to shipping and logistics.

The European Union (EU) accounts for approximately 5% of the world’s forests, and the forestry industry is quite complicated.

Additionally, the forestry industry is devoid of any standard pricing index where prices are primarily determined by past transactions, age-old relationships, and brand authority within the market.

Timber is subject to endless product differentiation, thus making it a complex product. Barriers such as varied grading requirements, language limitations in overseas markets, and communication flow that are not streamlined among various stakeholders tend to make the market a complicated one.

Digitalization and automation have penetrated within the industry, up to a certain extent. With business activities such as tendering raw materials, production & sorting automated to a fair degree, there are still processes governed by manual intervention.

Logistics processes are still mired in inefficiencies, lack visibility within functions, and low productivity. A large section of operational tasks performed on a daily basis can be automated but are currently manually handled and are subject to errors.

Constant follow-ups, chains of emails for quotations or tenders, and coordination are all forms of supply chain waste.

They can easily consume a significant amount of time for a logistics manager, which could have been used doing something that could help strategize attaining larger business goals.

In its most accurate means, digitalization should aid critical business decision-making, optimize resource allocations, make processes leaner, reduce wastage and enhance overall customer satisfaction.

The firms operating within the industry are clearly lacking a wholly integrated and sophisticated system that makes digital transformation a smooth and easy exercise. If technological advancements promise automation, enhanced productivity, and outstanding customer experience, they must deliver it.

One must understand that a supply chain doesn’t end with manufacturing the products and loading it up on trucks. Logistics makes sure that the products reach where they are supposed to at the right time, in the right quantity, and in the desired condition.

Therefore, digitalizing only a fragment of the entire supply chain is of no value and is only set to hamper the overall supply chain performance.

digital transformation forestry industry

A comprehensive tool that helps streamline supply chain processes, boosts supply chain visibility, provides actionable insights that aid decision-making, and truly integrates users into a digital workspace is the need of the hour.

The solution should enhance information flow to enable collaboration across trade, logistics, and documentation flow while providing access to data points that help align the entire supply chain with broader business goals through informed decision-making.

When businesses can embrace digitalization in its truest sense, only then can we expect the industry at large to transform. Digitalization and enhanced use of forest asset data can translate to significant savings and improve the industry’s efficiencies as a whole.

Thus, a more mature and collaborative approach towards digitization is required to strategize and prioritize the easy adoption of technological advancements for all.

About the Author

Amir Rashad has spent a decade as a physical commodity trader in the forestry industry between Europe, North Africa and Asia. During this time he also published market reports and presented market outlooks at conferences.

Today Amir leads Centersource Technologies, a supply-chain automation and collaboration platform that is automating global trade and logistics.

The multilingual platform automates processes between producers, forwarders and buyers, and offers modules for Export/Import, Logistics, Documentation, Compliance, Analytics and almost 100 smart tools.

The company is supported by leading figures in the forestry, logistics, finance, technology and analytics industries.


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