The survey of forest machine operators’ skills developed in North Karelia provides tools with which to develop their skills. Jooseppi Haasala is working on his thesis on this subject and believes that productivity can be improved by investing in the way the work is organised.
For the most part, the forest machine operator works alone. That requires self-initiative and the ability to work in varying circumstances and situations. At the same time, you may pick up certain habits that may, in the long run, even hamper your work.
– “When you enter working life, it is easy to just learn by doing exactly the same as other operators. That can lead to learning at best less than optimal and, at worst, incorrect methods,” says Jooseppi Haasala who has ten years’ experience operating a harvester
Haasala is studying for his B.Sc. in forestry at Lapland University of Applied Sciences and for his thesis he is investigating the impact of the skills survey developed by Riveria, the North Karelia Municipal Education and Training Consortium, on the work of forest machine operators.
The thesis is produced as part of the FOBIA project coordinated by the Natural Resources Institute Finland, aimed at enhancing the business skills of forest service entrepreneurs and providing means for improving profitability.
Utilising data collected by machines
In the skills survey (also called an audit), forest machine operators first answer to questions on their skills and views on work, after which their work is recorded on video. On the basis of this information, they are provided with instructions for developing their methods.
In his thesis, Jooseppi Haasala investigates the impacts of the skills survey and guidance with the help of questionnaires and operating data collected by the forest machines.
The operating data allows the duration of different work phases and productivity of work to be ascertained, for example. Data is collected over three periods: one before the audit, another immediately after it and then a third approximately six months after the audit.
– “I use the materials and questionnaires to investigate whether any changes have taken place,” Haasala says.
Eliminating the unnecessary
According to Haasala, the area most in need of development with the operators studied and in the sector in general is the order in which work is performed. “When transporting wood in the forest, attention must be paid to the movements of the forwarder itself, and with harvesters to the use of the crane and the harvester head.
– “Take something, bring something – that also applies here. In other words, the goal is not to move the crane any more than is absolutely necessary,” he says.
The skills survey aims to eliminate unnecessary movements.
– “It may look to the outsider that the work has slowed down. Actually, it is a case of sensible chess or Tetris where everything happens more efficiently,” Haasala says.
Even motivation for work improves
Jooseppi Haasala will be in a position to draw conclusions of the impact of audits in the autumn. Even his experience gained so far shows that the method works.
– “I do believe that this will be beneficial as long as the operators take it on themselves to re-learn things. I will be surprised if it is not evidenced on print.
Even if only the operators’ motivation for work or coping with work improves, this alone will be a good result.
If the results are good, the skills survey may become a good tool for developing operations even in small wood harvesting companies.
– “At present, entrepreneurs might be of the opinion that some operators are better than others and there is really nothing they can do about it,” Haasala says.
Original text: Ilkka Ritvanen/Cordial Communications
Translation: AAC Global