How Timber Update’s newest app “LoggerLog” is confronting a long-time foe for timber brokers.
Q: “So Taylor, tell me how this smartphone app really works?”
A: “Well, timber companies use LoggerLog to keep track of loads from the tract to the mill. They enter basic information about each load and track the tickets they receive from the mill online. They simply take a picture of the ticket and the app organizes the information, populating a database that keeps track of who owes who money. When Friday comes, everything is ready for them to review. No adding up tickets or entering data into a spreadsheet. Loads are approved in real time throughout the week. The information can be sent via email and accounting software, at the click of a button. Simple.
Other industries are using the same technology. Even banks allow customers to deposit checks with a smart phone. That’s why we asked ourselves, ‘Why can’t we track a scale ticket the same way?’”
Q: Why is this type of technology needed in the timber industry?
A: “Well, loggers are having trouble staying in business. One reason is because they’re having to dedicate their entire Friday to administrative tasks. LoggerLog consolidates a lot of that work. A conservative estimate is a half-day per week. That’s about twenty six days per year–an extra month–that they can do business. This can create a standard of time efficiency for the whole industry, not just the big guys. Whether an operation has one crew or a hundred crews, they can save tremendous amounts of time and energy with this app.
Another benefit to this technology is that it keeps statistics on everyone involved. There is a big need in the industry to track chain-of-custody, from the tract to the mill. Opponents of the industry say there isn’t accountability if we can’t track the product. Well, we have something that keeps record of everything: where the trees came from, who cut them, when they were harvested, who took them to the mill, the type of mill where they were sold. This data can single handedly halt accusations and attacks on the industry concerning chain-of-custody.”
Q: “What about the timberland owners, does LoggerLog matter to them?”
A: “Of course! If the crew on their property is using LoggerLog, they can log into a website and follow real-time data about what’s harvested on their land. For an absentee landowner, this timber app is as close as it gets to being on site. Of course, crews aren’t obligated to give landowners that type of access, but the idea is that it opens up lines of communication and builds trust.”
Q: “So who is the ideal candidate for LoggerLog?”
A: “Anyone who wants to simplify the reconciliation process–of reconciling loads of timber and generate more efficient business practices. Big or small, every type of timber operation benefits. This is really going to help timber brokers who are tired of being bottlenecked by the weekly paperwork headache.
Right away we expect companies that are fearless and innovative to move forward with LoggerLog. Some people refuse to progress because they are afraid of change, they just want to do things the way they’ve always been done. That’s okay–wisdom is known by her children. LoggerLog will win over the fearful eventually, but the innovators are going to step out and benefit immediately.
Even landowners will benefit from LoggerLog’s load tracking system, so we also expect to see some private timber owners using the app.”
Q: “What do you see as some of the immediate effects of LoggerLog on the industry?”
A: “Right away the timber companies are going to be blown away at how much time they save–the reduction of the reconciliation headache. Also, the availability of real-time data will give them an entirely new set of decisions to make throughout the week. Efficiency can increase dramatically.
Also, this technology will immediately affect the timber-theft dialogue. Timberland owners will have access to data previously given by word of mouth. This type of concrete communication will improve trust between timberland owners and timber brokers.
It will also make it easier for state agencies to run operations with timber companies. Saving the state time means saving taxpayers money.”
Q: “What is the timeline on the release?”
A: “We’re done with most of the heavy lifting with the software. We’re at the point of fine-tuning everything: the user interface and experience, the types of charts we use, load approvals, etc. We’re getting positive feedback from the crews who’ve used it, and we’re deciding which features to include in our initial release.”
Q: “Which is when?”
A: “Soon. At this point, it looks like quarter-one, 2015.”
Q: “Why is this type of innovation so important to Timber Update?”
A: “I believe the industry can still grow–amidst SFI regulations, sustainability pushes, and housing market drops. There is opportunity to do business more efficiently, to solve the problems that take away from the industry and the land owner. We’ve had the technology at our fingertips for a long time, and we believe it’s time to use it to solve the timber industry’s longstanding problems.
In general, the timber industry has huge needs and unanswered questions, but the culture has generally been slow on the uptick. Maybe that’s due to government regulation, public perception, or whatever else, but nevertheless, it’s time for the innovators to innovate. That’s what Timber Update does. I know it’s uncomfortable to a lot of people, but we’re pushing the norm. We’re passionate about innovation, and we’re fearless. Our number one goal is to improve the way the industry works.”
by Matthew Noxsel