Article by Jena Holtberg-Benge
Director, John Deere ForestSight Solutions

As a logger, there are many variables affecting your business that are out of your control. These include fuel prices, mill quotas and the weather, to name a few. But the good news is there are simple, tangible ways you can be more productive, more efficient, a better manager of your people and equipment—all to help improve your margins. It starts with technology and the data that comes from it: essential tools for problem solving, optimizing and adding value to your business.

Every year technology solutions are becoming more affordable and more powerful, which in turn is streamlining business, driving productivity and reducing costs. At the basic level, these solutions can monitor all crucial systems and components of a machine, including fuel use, oil temperature and hydraulics, which in turn makes machine, jobsite and uptime optimization even easier.

Machine Optimization: The data and information that technology provides can enable you to make recommendations and adjustments based on the performance of your machines. Knowing the details of how your equipment is working helps you maximize its use, keep it protected and cut costs.

You can tell a lot about a machine by monitoring its activity, but sometimes you can learn something about its operator, too. One of the key benefits of a telematics system is that it provides you with a unique tool for managing and training operators. Fuel use, idle time, and operator efficiency are great measurements that give you benchmarks for improvement.

Jobsite Optimization: Just as important as understanding what’s going on inside your machine is your knowledge of the environment in which you’re working. With technology, you can view job locations, distances to mills and refueling stations, educate your operators on their assignments, and more. Having this information at your fingertips can help you manage costs and revenues and negotiate prices.

Jobsite mapping is another key benefit of technology. Having information about jobsite complexities, such as waterways, obstacles, sensitive areas, and other points of interest can help operators navigate more efficiently and help managers more accurately estimate costs when bidding jobs.

Uptime Optimization: Technology can remotely monitor machine health and diagnose problems to keep them up and running. Your awareness of issues in their earliest stages saves time and costs associated with servicing your equipment and prevents costly downtime. These systems make it easy for you and your equipment dealer to keep accurate, complete maintenance records and documentation, which can extend machine life and increase resale or trade-in value.

Loggers around the world are seeing that the technology used on jobsites and forestry equipment, and the data that comes from it provides power to plan, make decisions and solve problems in a more efficient way. Just ask Roy Isley of D&J Isley and Sons in Alberta, Canada.

Analysis: “There is so much information on the machines that we can access and use, from productivity and fuel consumption to heat cycles and more,” Isley says. “The information is at your fingertips for the taking, but you have to actually use it and look at the data through a problem solving mindset.”

Isley has also found the data he re­ceives from his machines to be especially beneficial in his communication with mills. “In our business, there is no way of tracking costs other than productivity, which is why the data we receive directly from our machines on production is so important. The data is real and there’s no guesswork involved when reporting and confirming production with the mill.”

He is proof that data and emerging technologies are becoming more and more essential to the forestry industry and how loggers do business. We encourage you to stay on the leading edge and understand the advantages of technology integration. Your manufacturer or dealer can be an excellent resource to help you navigate how technology can work for you, address the problems you face and make your jobs more efficient.