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

Loggers around the world are seeing that the technology used on jobsites and forestry equipment, and the data that comes from it, is power—power to plan, make decisions and solve problems in a more efficient way. It’s the gateway into the world of increased productivity. It’s reshaping the forestry industry as loggers are finding big gains in productivity, cost efficiency and fuel economy, to a name a few.

With the data from technology come insights. These insights help loggers optimize machines, jobsites, uptime and, ultimately, their bottom line. I talk with customers every day who are just tapping into technology and the potential solutions it can bring to their businesses. Many are realizing how big of a role technology will play in the industry, and seeing a tangible impact on their bottom line. But don’t just take my word for it—learn from your peers who are actively making strides to improve their business through technology.

Optimize Machines—Jack McFarland, owner of McFarland Timber Inc. in Winfield, La., is a logger, state legislator and entrepreneur. He employs people who range from 20 to 50-years-old who are all anxious to get in the seat of equipment with new solutions. The data and information that technology provides enables McFarland to make recommendations and adjustments based on the performance of his machines.

“I can’t control the cost of fuel, but I have a tool that I can utilize that’s going to make me more efficient in my skidding and cutting operations; then I can become better and more efficient as a manager, and as a business owner,” McFarland states. “I believe there’s a great value there being able to control skidding distances and cutting distances—these are all points where you save on fuel.”

Optimize Uptime—Bill and Buddy Lominick, the father-son duo of Big Pine Logging in Newberry, SC, are another example of a business using technology to its advantage. The Lominicks understand in today’s industry you have to be versatile, and versatility also translates to a willingness to adapt and embrace technology. But you don’t have to do it alone. 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 and profitable.

As the Lominicks have found, the dealer/customer relationship is key to a successful, thriving partnership to further increase their bottom line. The Lominicks boost uptime through the John Deere Ultimate Uptime program, which includes JDLink™ machine monitoring and customized service and maintenance agreements through local Deere dealer Flint Equipment.

Ultimate Uptime’s standard features include the exclusive capabilities of John Deere ForestSight™ that tell you and your dealer what your machine needs to provide more uptime. But it doesn’t end there. After listening, to thoroughly understand your needs, your dealer can suggest additional services and create a customized solution that optimizes your uptime based on the needs of your business.

JDLink allows Buddy to track fuel consumption, machine location, load level, and idle time. “We can adjust skid distances or how the operator is running the machine based on what we see,” explains Buddy. “I’ve been out of town, gotten an alert about low hydraulic oil or a plugged filter, and was able to alert dad or an operator. We also get advance notice of periodic maintenance, so we can schedule it on a rainy day or weekend.”

The Ultimate Uptime program also helps the Lominicks predict costs. “The three-year extended warranty and service agreements take a lot of stress off of me.”

The cost of the program is totaled into the purchase of the machines. “With a fixed cost, we always know what service and repairs are going to cost at the end of the month,” says Bill. “That’s huge for keeping costs down—and keeping us going.” “Working together, Deere and our dealer have really helped us improve our uptime and reduce costs,” adds Buddy. “If we didn’t have their support, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”

Optimize Jobsites—These days efficiency on the jobsite is key to lowering costs and increasing your margin, but managing and keeping track of every last detail on the jobsite can be a monster undertaking. 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 fair prices.

One technology gaining traction in the industry is jobsite mapping tools, like John Deere’s TimberNavi™. This tool shows the operator where he or she is, where the wood is and location histories for each machine on your jobsite, which reduces fuel burn per ton, and increases productivity. With this information, loggers can get wood to the landing quicker. It also empowers business owners to negotiate with confidence, knowing how to optimize your jobsite ahead of time.

Cory Isley, of D&J Isley and Sons, in Grande Prairie, Alberta, sees jobsite mapping tools as a big step in the right direction for our industry.

“Our operators love TimberNavi,” he notes. “It’s got a clear display, so they know where they are on the cut block all the time—they don’t have to keep getting out of the machine to find boundaries. I’m looking at how I can improve productivity at all times, and this technology is another good tool to get me there.”

It doesn’t matter what type of logger you are or size of operation you run—there’s no denying technology solutions will enhance your productivity and uptime, while lowering operating costs.

As you can see, there are simple, tangible ways you can be more productive, more efficient, better manage you people and equipment and improve your margins. It starts with technology and the data that comes from it. Talk to your dealer about how you can use these resources to add value to your business and bottom line today.