Forestry Management System

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ABSTRACT

Iggesund Paperboard is one of the largest manufacturers of virgin fibre paperboard in Europe. The UK based operation is centred at a medium sized paper mill based at Workington in Cumbria. A key part of the Workington plants success is that it maintains and manages its own forests in Dumfries and Galloway, Perthshire and the Highlands. However, Iggesund only use the top two thirds of the Douglas fir and the Scots Pines which are grown in its Scottish forests. The remaining third is used to produce timber that is sold to local and national companies for use in construction and carpentry. It is this particular aspect of the company’s business process on which I would like to concentrate.

 

Each forest has its own manager who is responsible for the timber sales operation. For several years the managers of the forests have been wishing to upgrade their paper based filing system to a computerized system. This system is outlined below. Unfortunately, due to staff shortages in the company I.T. department they have been unable to find the time to develop a new system. Regrettably, the forestry manager’s budget is limited and he cannot afford to purchase an off-the-shelf package.

 

After brief discussions with a member of the I.T. department, and with the manager of the Forest of Ae (near Dumfries) I decided that I would to like to try and implement a system that would help the manager of the Forest of Ae keep track of his customers, contracts, orders, products and haulers. Due to the recent staff cut backs and existing projects the I.T. department have been unable to offer me any type of support or spend anytime with me to develop the system. However, they agreed it might be beneficial for me to develop a prototype system that then could be modified by them to suit the specific needs of the forest manager in the future.

 

The forestry manager only has basic I.T. knowledge as the company offers no formal I.T. training, but regularly uses a company laptop for word processing. He also has access to the company intranet, email system and the internet over a secure ISDN connection and he is familiar with online form systems used for ordering over the internet. He currently uses a paper based filing system to look after customer details, orders, contracts, product and hauler information. This system has become increasingly difficult to maintain, and become a burden on the manager’s time.

The Forest of Ae is over two hours drive from the Workington based I.T. department. It would be impractical to expect the forestry manager to maintain his own databases, as supporting users at this distance is a tricky business for the company I.T. department. Therefore, it was suggested by a member of the I.T. department that it would be sensible for the database to be located centrally, and maintained by the I.T. department.

 

Hardware

  • Intel Pentium® 4 processor
  • 1 GB Memory
  • And other regular hardware devices

Software

  • Microsoft Windows XP, 2000® Server
  • IBM Web Sphere Studio Application Developer 6.0
  • MS SQL Server 2000

Modules

This section describes the current procedures that are followed by the forestry manager in the current system. Detailed understanding of these procedures was gained through several telephone conversations during September 2002.

 Product Details

The forestry manager is provided with a given amount of timber each week from the logging contractors who work in conjunction with the manager. The majority of this timber is then transported to the Workington based plant for use in paperboard production. However, for some reason, the base of the tree is not appropriate of virgin fibre paperboard. The unwanted sections are transferred the forestry manager’s lumber yard, and this is the product which can then be sold on to wood mills, construction companies or carpenters. Product differentiation is relatively low, and at any one time, it is unlikely that there will be more than 6 different products in the yard. These products are usually given a product code, based on tree type, the age of the wood, and the geometry of the timber. The forestry manager currently maintains a word processed list of the products which is updated to add new products, or remove discontinued products. Sometimes, a product description is added to this word processed list to distinguish between similar products. Furthermore, there is always enough timber in the yard to meet customer demand, as the significantly more lumber is required for the paper making business.

 

 

 Customer Details

The forestry manager has around 20 customers who he supplies regularly. Due to the nature of the business, he does not receive many new customers, but relies on the business of his existing customers. A paper file is created for the customer, recording their name and contact details and it is filed alphabetically by customer name. To locate a customer file, the right drawer in the filing cabinet must be searched. What’s more, if amendments need to be made to a particular customer’s details then he usually must fill in a fresh form. Obviously this is a time consuming process.

 Contract Details

The forestry manager has contracts with the majority of his customers. That is, he provides them with either a weekly or monthly delivery of a fixed amount of timber on a given day of the week or date in a month. He receives correspondence regarding new contracts by telephone, or by fax. Occasionally he receives written correspondence, and some of his customers now place contracts by email. These contracts are then recorded on a standard contract form and then filed against appropriate day of the week for weekly contracts, or against the appropriate date if it is a monthly contract. In order to fulfil these contracts, the forestry manager has to search through his filing cabinets to locate the contracts due. When contracts are completed, they are removed from the filing system and discarded.

 Order Details

Orders are one off transactions, and are not repeated. They are requested by customers, usually in addition to contracts, to be delivered on a given date. Orders are placed using the same channels as the weekly and monthly contracts. They are recorded on a paper form and sorted by delivery date. If amendments need to be made a new order form must be filed out, and if the order is cancelled or completed the form is discarded.

 Hauler Details

The forestry manager uses local haulers to delivery the lumber to his customers. Due to the nature of the business, haulers are highly specialized, and given the limited demand for transporting large amounts of timber it is unlikely that the forestry manager is likely to use any new haulers. In September 2002, the forestry manager was only using three different haulage companies to transport his goods. Consequently, their details are well known and only recorded on a notice board in his office.

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