The business expertise development of forest machine and other entrepreneurs within forestry got a new boost with the start of the three-year FOBIA project in early June. The project, funded by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme of the EU, aims to improve the competitiveness of these businesses.

The project’s goals and the practical measures were reviewed at the start-up meeting in Hämeenlinna. In addition, the project members had the opportunity to visit and learn about logging on sites with poor bearing capacity.

Site Manager Teemu Tolppa, Metsäkonepalvelu Oy, also shed light on the Finnish forest machine enterprises’ challenging market situation for the participants. Even though the demand for wood is increasing, there is still over-capacity of machinery on the market.

“The demands of the customers have also increased. Wood harvesting alone is no longer enough; now the service provider also needs to offer other services, and leadership and new kinds of skills are needed. The efficiency of operations and the need for new harvesting methods are also emphasised,” Tolppa says.

Improving operational efficiency

Project Coordinator Paula Jylhä from the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is pleased with outcome of the project’s start-up meeting.

“The meeting and the views of logging entrepreneurs confirmed that there is a clear need for the project. The training events will be arranged through various electronic platforms, allowing entrepreneurs to develop their competence regardless of time and place.”

In addition to the development training packages, the FOBIA project will also produce managerial tools for analysing and improving operational efficiency of enterprises, among other things. The detailed action plan will be ready by autumn.

The project, coordinated by the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), includes partners also from Sweden, Scotland and Ireland. Associate members also include the machine entrepreneurs’ associations Koneyrittäjien liitto ry in Finland and Skogsentreprenörena in Sweden, forest machine manufacturers, and other forestry and forest industry interest groups that bring their own views into directing the project. See all partners here.

The project group had an opportunity to familiarise themselves with logging on sites with poor bearing capacity. Photo: Paula Jylhä.