Opportunities for an Online GIS-Based Wood Supply Management System
The forest industry has become more complex due in part to increasing global competition. The highly fragmented nature of the forest industry supply chain and lack of interaction between industry segments can cause major supply/demand inequalities. This fragmented nature can lead to unnecessary lead time and costly inefficiencies for business transactions. The objective of this research project is to develop the concept of using an Internet-based, Geographic Information System (GIS)-supported, optimized wood supply chain management system to overcome some of the current inefficiency problems. Currently many different forms of relevant supply chain management information can be found on the World Wide Web. Through review of Internet-related material, this project identified three classes of existing web resources relevant to the development of a forest industry supply chain management system: resource, market, and e-commerce sites. Internet information provides many of the basic data attributes needed in a supply chain management system. This project demonstrated that linking this data with geographic/spatial location (georeferencing) could add an extra dimension in the planning and decision making processes and will be a key development to push the boundaries of supply chain optimization. Within the forest industry, georeferencing of supply chain business entities can easily be done with GIS. Using GIS, members of the forest industry supply chain can be visually and spatially allocated to form a grand forest industry supply chain overview and specific business opportunities using this geo-referenced data platform can be developed. Although the technology exists to produce a high quality Internet-based supply chain network system, there are challenges in producing a system that is truly integrated among all industry partners. Technology obstacles, anti-trust regulation, reluctance to use the online platforms, and inaccurate information input and dispersal are some of the major issues facing a supply chain management tool that are discussed in this report. To demonstrate how a GIS-based supply chain management system could be implemented, three case studies have been presented to show how the proposed system would benefit the current industry in realistic situations. These include (1) a simple location-based search of consulting foresters, (2) a trucking logistic optimization, and (3) a quantitative resource assessment within a manufacturing facility procurement area. Case 1 demonstrates how geocoded landowner and consulting forester information can add efficiency in communication and services provided. Case 2 demonstrates that GIS paired with geocoded information gives a logger increased decision-making power by choosing the most profitable option in a choice between sawmills that includes transportation costs. Lastly, case 3 shows that by analyzing geocoded resource information, a manufacturer can make the proper decision of whether to expand or contract operations. In each case, added value was given to market players that were able to have analysis power through geocoded information. This information is not readily used at the present time and could potentially add value along many steps of the forest industry supply chain.