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Doctoral thesis, 2023

Balancing the flow of wood and use of machinery in harvesting operations : new perspectives on how to improve performance in the wood supply chain

Johansson, Malin


Meeting current wood supply objectives requires a certain flexibility in the wood procurement system. Suitable buffers to generate flexibility include creating a balance between flow and resource efficiency. Research on resource efficiency (e.g. cost-efficiency) in harvesting operations are abundant, but the flow efficiency have not been given much attention. This is somewhat surprising as the constant need for flexibility in practical operations has to be solved by more or less unplanned and intuitive means, or handled by other parts of the supply chain. This thesis therefore aims to improve performance in Nordic cut-to-length harvesting operations by exploring flow and resource efficiency and suggesting new perspectives on how to balance them well. Paper I covers how workloads in terms of produced volumes and worked time vary in harvesting operations. The results revealed differences between contractors’ workflows, which could be attributed to number of machines, machine sizes and total workload. Papers II and III explore the trade-offs between flow and resource efficiency by altering staffing levels within and between harvesting groups, and thereby improving flexibility. The results revealed that with a balanced amount of flexibility there could be a potential capacity to adjust wood flow efficiency at the expense of resource efficiency. With flexibility, lead times could be shortened to one tenth, but at an increase in costs of 3.2 - 3.5 % or 1.6-1.8 % if flexibility was enabled within or in cooperation between harvesting groups. Paper IV identifies the perceived drivers and hindrances acting on contractors’ flow and resource efficiency while taking into consideration the expectation that harvesting operations also include many other important aspects of performance. The results indicate that incentives given in the business relationship mainly drive resource efficiency and hinder flow efficiency, while involvement from the forest company mainly drive flow efficiency while hindering resource efficiency. A framework was therefore created to improve performance management which is currently surrounded by complexity.


buffers; contractor; cut-to-length; flexible resources; forwarder harvester; logging; production management; tradeoffs; wood procurement

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae
2023, number: 2023:29
ISBN: 978-91-8046-110-8, eISBN: 978-91-8046-111-5
Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences