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Hubert DÜRRSTEIN, University of Agricultural Sciences, Vienna, AUSTRIA


In Austria forestry and wood industry are of high economic importance. Actually the trade balance has an export surplus of about 27 billion ATS (1.93 billion €) and takes second place following the tourism industry. In addition to ecological criteria and the human factor the economic efficiency is a very important demand as for sustainable forestry. In the last two decade the mechanization has helped to avoid runaway costs. Today other approaches for rationalization must be found and considering the actual trend, enhancements in business process control and planning of work, which can be pooled under the term logistic should help to increase the valued added of wood supply chains.

In Austria about one year ago the first activities have been started and based on the SWOT-Analysis it was defined which strengths and weaknesses and which opportunities and threats have to be taken into account. Finally it was aimed to initiate projects, which contribute to promote the strengths, to dismantle the weaknesses, to benefit intensively of the opportunities and to diminish the threats. Strengths and opportunities should be combined in an optimal way.

The actually running logistic projects meet these demands on the one hand by analysing basically the existent supply chains, showing obvious weaknesses and working out improvements using a simulation program. On the other hand side it is planned, to create working networks supported by suitable structures.

Actual situation

In Austria, forestry and wood industry are of high economic importance. So forestry and the timber trade account for more than 4 percent of Austria's gross national product (GNP). In addition in contrast to Austria's total trade balance, the balance for timber, wood products, and paper products is positive. That means more is being exported than imported. In 1998 Austria exported timber and wood products at a value of 75.7 billion ATS. The import amounts to 48.4 billion ATS. Austria's forestry and timber trade is one of it's most stable foreign trade factors and takes second place in the current account balance following the tourism industry.

Regarding activities in forestry sustainability is one of the dominating terms. Since generations this idea is practiced primarily with the understanding to make sure that the cut is not higher than the growth. Since 1992 after passing the agenda 21, the general understanding of sustainability has basically changed. Actually sustainable utilization of forests stipulates

To meet these postulates the environmental, financial and human resources must be used in a way that the benefits can be optimised and the negative effects can be minimized by taking into account the relevant conditions. In Austria especially the difficult terrain conditions (two thirds of the forests are located in terrain with more than 30 percent slope) and the unfavourable ownership pattern (about 50 percent of the forest area is small scaled farm forest with more than 210.000 forest owners) have to be taken into consideration if the ground should be prepared for changes.

Looking to the economic situation during the last two decades in spite of increasing labour costs the profit could be kept on the same level until today. This is why mechanization and the shifting of labour-intensive working processes from the forests to the wood industry could stop a rapid rise of the costs.

As to the other postulates several investigations are carried through for working out required basics (Stampfer, 1992; Dürrstein, 1995; Berger, 2000) and first approaches are made to take into consideration environmental criteria and the human factor in decision making processes. The also in this workshop presented paper of Stampfer shows an interdisciplinary attempt for multi criteria evaluation of thinning operations in steep terrain which is based on Saaty's Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP).


Like already mentioned the mechanization has contributed to keep the costs on an acceptable level. Actually the potential of rationalization by improving the degree of mechanization is considerably limited and that's why other approaches for increasing the value added must be found. Considering the general trend, enhancements in business process models, process control and planning of work, which can be pooled under the term logistics should help to ensure the profitability of manufacturing processes. Other branches of industry have realized that modern logistic is not only a necessary evil but meanwhile a central issue of business. As for forestry it is questionable in which category it is to put.

In Central Europe forestry and wood industry are at the beginning by preparing, adapting and realizing modern logistic concepts for rising the efficiency of wood supply chains. About one year ago in Austria an extensive project was started to work out a logistic concept which is able to take into account the special conditions. For finding out, which strengths/weakness and opportunities/threats have to be considered the SWOT-analysis is one suitable method (Kohlöffel, 2000). It is generally applied that

Table 1 summarizes how the S-W-O-T can be defined related to the task to introduce modern logistic concepts in Austria.

Table 1. SWOT-Analysis as to logistic concepts

Strengthparticipation of all ownership categories
readiness for changes and for mechanization (project partners)
economic efficiency is of top priority
Weaknesstraditional way of thinking (mainly in forestry) and to adhering rigidly to existing structures
scrupling about transparency
less readiness for cooperation
failing professionalism and awareness of process thinking
Opportunitiessupport by the authorities (mobilizing of the wood reserves)
available tools (e.g. GEOMAIL)
first experiences and running supply chains (benchmarking)
Threatsterrain conditions
ownership pattern and economic disequilibrium of the partners
scrupling about new ideas of process organisation

For being able to realize wood supply chains by using modern logistic tools and information technology the following measures must be aimed at

Based on this basic framework the approaches for realizing modern wood supply chains were defined and the first working steps were initiated.


Running logistic projects

As to improve the wood supply chain actually two projects are running. Table 2 comprehends the gist.

Table 2. Gist of actual logistic projects

Wood supply chain Gist
  Realizing the optimal value added preparatory work with the analysis of the actual situation and an evaluation of the available tools process analysis for finding out the strengths and weakness of the actual running wood supply chains
implementation and continuous adjustment for optimising the application
  Building an adapted network national and international analysis and benchmarking (forestry, wood industry and other branches)
design of new approaches for organizing the wood supply chain
evaluation of the proposed organisation models implementation, analysis of strengths and weakness and continuous adjustment 

First Results


For being able to use modern tools of information technology (IT) the project partners were equipped with GEOMAIL already at the beginning of the project work. Today the first experiences are available. For navigation of the trucks the systems helps to save time. It is also possible to distribute information by e-mail between the participants of the supply chain like placing of orders or message of finishing felling. For however optimally organizing the wood supply chain in total actually the sequential flow of information is unfavourable.

Process Analysis and Improvement

The process analysis has once more verified, that especially in forestry the awareness of process thinking is more or less missing. In addition it becomes also obviously that already without reengineering of the processes the efficiency can be increased. By improving or avoiding bottle neck activities e.g. the arrangement of wood transport can be remarkably accelerated and in the chosen example the time saving is about 1 week. This shortening of supply time can enormously reduce the capital costs per week (e.g. reduction of € 2.750 with an interest rate of 10 percent and a volume of 20.000 m3). More savings can be expected due to elimination of other time intensive activities like manual measuring and paralleling of processes like a simultaneously providing of information to all participants of the wood supply chain. How top-to-bottom reengineering programs will take effect actually can not be valued, but one aim of this project is to intensify the activities in this field.


As to new models of organisation first ideas have been worked out. Looking to similar tasks it becomes more and more obviously that a central information and allocation platform must be created. This platform must be able to organize the complete flow of information and products along the value-added chain. For this as well the forest owner (supply) as the wood industry (demand) must make available the relevant data, which are collected in a databank.

Based on this information the materials requirements planner (MRP) disposes of the working processes and how to deliver the wood. The forest owners themselves or a contractor pool, which is permanently communicating with the MRP is responsible for processing the timber in due time. For realizing all partners must be profited by stocking disposal, reduced door-to-door-time, higher flexibility and better quality of the products.

Final remarks

Caused by IT, reengineering programs and adapted forms of organisation actually trade and industry is completely changing. Based on modern tools of process control and data communication integrated approaches for optimising supply chains must be striven for. There is not longer the optimisation of specific sections but the integration of all flows of production, products and information are to the foreground. Adapted logistic concepts should help to meet this change. Even though there are doubts — especially in forestry — the process can not be stopped and it is recommendable to renounce traditional structures and to start translating concepts into action.


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Stampfer, K. & Dürrstein, H. 2000. Aktuelle Trends in der Forsttechnik. Österreichische Forstzeitung 4. Arbeit im Wald. S. 1–3.

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