eDockets connect harvesters, haulage contractors and sawmills in Australia
Some of the oldest and most persistent challenges in the forestry industry have been addressed through an informal but very successful collaboration between industry players in Australia.
One of big challenges that every forest company deals with is the persistent use of paper-based processes across the forestry supply chain. In many cases, paper dockets are the single source of truth, from the pick-up in the forest to delivery at the sawmill.
The dockets are collected from the loader and haulage contractors and sent to the forestry company. Someone in the back-office has the job of interpreting each driver’s handwriting to key the data into a spreadsheet and reconcile errors and missing dockets.
This process is prone to human error, so naturally there are delays, errors and incorrect invoices that need to be resolved. As a result, the paperwork lags the product going to the mill by about 6 weeks which directly impacts cash-flow, not just for the forestry company but also their harvest, loader and haulage contractors.
The second major issue is that forestry operators also have poor visibility of inventory in the forest which easily results in over-supply, spoilage and shrinkage and all these impact profitability.
The third challenge is the high mortality and injury rate in the forest. This is hurting the industry reputation and makes it harder to attract and retain quality staff.
Some of the leading forestry operators in Australia are addressing these challenges with mobile technology and progressively adding additional features over time.
For example, The Forestry Corporation of New South Wales has pioneered the use of eDockets by deploying the EDx app to all its haulage contractors. Drivers receive the app on their devices using a secure deployment process.
These electronic dockets allow for docket data to be richer and more accurate than their paper equivalents. The EDx app uses geofencing and validation to only allow valid input from the drivers. In addition it enables each load to be geotagged at the collection point, the delivery route and the delivery destination.
The gross and tare weights are added to the eDocket app at the weighbridge, calculating the net weight and finalising the docket as a complete record of the transaction. This docketing record is synced to their back end system throughout the delivery process, allowing real time awareness of the status of each delivery.
Because cellular coverage is non-existent, the EDx app is intelligently designed to work in an offline first manner. Whenever the truck receives a patch of mobile coverage, for example driving over a hill on a public road, the EDx app calls out automatically to receive any updated data and submit updates to dockets completed or in progress.
Further smarts allow electronic dockets be started on one device and completed on another. This mitigates the risk of data loss through lost or broken devices and further allows for drivers to maximise efficiency, loading trucks at the end of a shift and allowing another driver with a separate device to continue the delivery from the depot the next day. Electronic docketing allows for more accurate sales information, providing Forestry Corporation revenue assurance and improved cashflow.
One of the many clever innovations in this system is that the data collected from the app is shared with all parties in the supply chain so that everyone can see live docket information as well as truck locations. This enables the sawmills and ports to anticipate deliveries and any traffic impacting their weighbridges. The next iteration will even show the forest inventory on the map, allowing for more efficiency in their haulage operations. This sharing benefits everyone. Forestry Corporation’s harvest, loader and haulage contractors have immediate access to their work transactions and can invoice accurately and their customer’s understand when each load will arrive.
Hancock Queensland Plantations in Australia have extended the electronic docketing process with their eDocketHQ app and included additional health and safety features in the docketing process. For example, each driver is required to perform and record a 360 Check of the truck before leaving the pickup site and again prior to entering the public road network. GPS points are collected to provide an audit trail for compliance checks. HQP have also implemented location specific notifications into the app, warning drivers of specific hazards such as fire hazards and flooded access ways. Forico in Tasmania has designed another innovation by improving the process of recording sightings of noxious weeds in the forest. By leveraging a simple form which can be completed in a few quick steps, they have helped drive the collection of this data, which simply does not occur if a user has to go back to their vehicle or office to pickup and complete a paper form! These innovations have happened sequentially and the number of new ideas coming from the industry means this will continue.
Mobile Mentor is proud to be a participant and facilitator of these developments and is now a partner of the Forestry Industry Engineering Association!
Find out more about our work in the Forestry Industry.