Meet Jussi Antman, a long-time forest harvesting driver and entrepreneur, who sleeps better these days than before. His sleeping patterns have improved thanks to a conscious change in his working methods which have brought him more free time. Automation specialist Markku Heikkinen from machine manufacturer John Deere and trainers at Valtimo School of Forestry helped bring about this change by testing new methods with Jussi over a period of ten years.

Jussi Antman and Markku Heikkinen. Photo: Laura Eskelinen

Measured facts behind efficiency gains

The change process took seven years. Four years ago, Jussi Antman bought a new harvester and finally altered his working methods completely. As he explains:

– This work is based on routines which are difficult to change overnight. But when you witness the benefits of new practices, you cannot argue with the facts. After all, this work is purely mathematics.

There are plenty of obstacles on the road to change. Jussi describes how he was surprised by the learning experience. As he followed a harvesting handbook provided by the Valtimo School of Forestry step by step, his working pace slowed down, and results improved.

– You think you know the best way to work, but you are wrong. You should trust measured facts.

These measured facts are provided by harvesting machine manufacturers such as John Deere. Collaboration with harvesting contractors is a regular practice for John Deere, as Markku Heikkinen explains:

– We produced an optimization model for Jussi, but for another business we may offer something else that serves their needs.

Profitability and well-being in one package

Markku describes the beginning of the collaboration with harvesting entrepreneurs and the Valtimo School of Forestry.

– When we saw how difficult it is for drivers to change their habits, we realized we should have more modes of co-operation. Now we offer optimization services together. We deliver machine reports of hard facts, such as the machine’s performance and driver’s actions. Trainers from the Valtimo School of Forestry provide training on working methods. During the past five years, the product has developed and we now bring it to international users in the FOBIA project.

Jussi Antman emphasizes the importance of planning in the daily harvesting work. For example, he combines work on small forest stands to avoid wasting time while moving from one stand to another. Once on the harvesting site, he continues the same approach, as he describes:

– If you are using the right methods, you do not need to rush. You no longer have unnecessary movements or actions. For example, I used to harvest the trees on one side of the machine. These days I always harvest them on both sides. What’s best, new methods work even in the worst of conditions!

New working methods benefit drivers in many ways and both men emphasize the importance of well-being at work. According to Markku Heikkinen, profitability of the business will not rise by working harder and longer, and certainly not by risking your health. And Jussi Antman echoes this:

– Markku keeps reminding me that I should be able to do this job until retirement.

Fruits of co-operation

All parties have gained valuable insights, while the harvesting contractor’s well-being has improved and consequently his business has been successful.

Collaboration has continued for over a decade, which has created mutual trust and appreciation. As Markku Heikkinen describes it:

– Jussi has taken the working methods to a new level, really. When you have inner motivation for change, things start to happen. We offer measuring services and reports but, at the end of the day, it is the entrepreneur who needs to use them.

During the training sessions, the quality of the harvesting is closely monitored. As Jussi Antman puts it:

– Deere provided video monitoring of my working methods and that was great. It is important that someone comes and shows you the concrete impacts of the change. It is hard to realize them for yourself.

Saved time may be used for valuable meetings with forest owners by the forest stand, for exchanging news and for listening to their wishes. There is also time for a cup of coffee outdoors on a crisp autumn’s morning.


Text: Anu Ruusila/Cordial Communications