The nearest mill is not always the best destination for cut timber. When wood is sourced, the best end use, transport method and delivery region for different timber assortments are all considered before decisions are made.
Transporting roundwood from forests to end use locations is a multi-stage process. Planning the transport logistics begins with targeting the sourcing in the correct geographical area and ends with selecting the timber yard of a suitable mill. Between these two stages, the best solutions for harvesting, storage, transport and end-use location need to be optimised.
“Mathematical optimisation models and a map system with satellite positioning are used in the planning of wood sourcing and transport. The factors used in the planning include the wood needs of production facilities, wood resources, warehouses, available harvesting and transport equipment and the harvesting schedules”, says UPM’s Operations Manager Pekka Lepikko.
In the comprehensive planning of sourcing, long-term targets are translated into monthly target figures that are communicated to integrated mill sites. At the mills, transport planners specify the available supply volumes and resources. Weekly optimised plans are then centrally created based on this data. The end result consists of exact assortment-specific delivery volumes as well as specified transport methods, routes and schedules.
“When transport is being optimised, transporting goods both ways is important so that trucks do not drive on the roads empty”, Lepikko says.
“In Central Finland, we work closely together with three integrated mill sites outside our region. In addition to mills in our own region, we also transport wood to these mill sites. We use road transport, rail transport, floating and vessel transport, and we also have harvesting equipment for island use”, says Operations Specialist Marko Minkkinen.
“Assortment-specific data is transferred directly from the harvesting and transport equipment to our system. Warehouse data is also updated in real time when timber trucks deliver cargo. This ensures that we have up-to-date information on the current warehouse situation and that all wood is exactly where our system tells us it should be”, Minkkinen describes.
Local harvesting and transport planners take care of day-to-day supervision in their area and communicate with contractors working in forests and on the roads on a daily basis.
“Our harvesting and transport contractors play an important role in the optimisation of transport operations. The weekly plan must be complied with and data entered correctly at different stages. The goal of the planning process is to ensure that suitable wood is delivered to the right place at the right time in a cost-effective manner”, Minkkinen summarises.
Contractors take care of transport
Ari Kulju is one of UPM key contractors and responsible for timber transport in the Jämsä area. Kulju uses nine subcontractors with their own log trucks, and the total volume of transported timber amounts to around 400,000 cubic metres a year.
“We specify the available trucks and driving hours in the transport management system in advance. Every Friday, we receive the following week’s transport schedule for each truck. This schedule shows planned volumes, schedules, starting points and destinations. If necessary, I can make adjustments to the weekly schedule and specify warehouse locations on my PC at home”, Kulju says.
“You could say that my job is to transport wood from place to place with my mobile phone. Having local knowledge is useful, particularly when roads deteriorate in spring. It’s important to collect wood while travel on the roads is still easy”, Kulju says.