As Asko Piirainen, a long-time harvesting entrepreneur from Sotkamo, Finland, says: “Monitoring profitability is beneficial to both entrepreneurs and their staff.”
Asko Piirainen’s mornings always start the same way:
– I check which harvesting site information has been entered into the cloud, I make my additions and transfer the data into our system.
Asko Piirainen monitors data automatically supplied by his forest machines which includes time reports, timber volume and quality, as well as harvesting conditions.
Piirainen is the Managing Director of Metsäurakointi Piirainen Oy and currently employs 25 persons. He has been a harvesting contractor for 35 years and believes in systematic monitoring:
– I’ve been monitoring the data 20 years. I believe it is extremely important and everybody in this line of business should do it.
Waving goodbye to misconceptions
According to a report by the Finnish Work Efficiency Institute (TTS – Työtehoseura) for the FOBIA project, 30 % of Finnish harvesting contractors do not value machine data as an asset for their business. Furthermore, this report reveals that 70 % of the respondents believe the data is useful to some extent, but very few of them use the data in their daily management work. As Asko Piirainen describes the situation:
– Many harvesting contractors think that they cannot change the situation and their income. Monitoring could make a real difference and help them to get rid of such misconceptions.
Rewards for exceeding goals
Piirainen monitors data such as volume of fellings, stem volume, hours worked and the mechanical availability. He uses the information in pricing as well as in monitoring profitability. The machines and operators are connected to a follow-up system. Based on the gathered data, Piirainen sets personal goals for operators, and if the operators exceed the goals, they get a performance bonus.
– Approximately 30% of the profit goes to the operator and the rest stays with the company.
In Asko Piirainen’s opinion, there are strong grounds for the performance bonus. He estimates there is about a 30 % difference between operators in terms of their productivity. According to the FOBIA report, the figure can be as high as 40 %.
Piirainen admits it has not always been easy for him to trust the new systems, and initially there was a lot of resistance towards using it among the harvester drivers. The system was even nicknamed ‘Big Brother’.
– Today, nobody even comments on it, and using it is an essential part of the job.
According to Piirainen, the reluctance prevents many companies from making the best use of the data. In some cases, staff have even threatened to leave the company. Over the years, Piirainen, who has acted as chairman of the Trade Association of Finnish Forestry and Earth Moving Contractors and he believes that such resistance will fade away as systems are taken into wider use.
– Whatever your line of business, you have to monitor profitability. Forest machine operators also benefit when the contractor knows their business is profitable. It secures long-term employment.
The user-friendliness of the software is improving all the time. Piirainen believes this is no longer a hindrance for adopting the monitoring systems:
– All major brands provide these systems and they are simple enough to use.
Asko Piirainen is currently moving all the monitoring onto Komatsu’s MaxiFleet system.
– It is an incredibly good system and you get a lot of information in a simple format.
However, efficient use of data does require a bit of work, as Piirainen points out:
– There is no fully automated system available. You must make the effort to use the system, make a report, and then analyse it.
Text: Ilkka Ritvanen/Cordial Communications