September 12, 2016

Mobile Technology – The Future Frontier

"There's an app for that."

A few years ago, as the smartphone revolution really took hold, that phrase reminded us there was an application for nearly every possible need. Since that phrase was first uttered, the number of apps has grown exponentially. From organizing your grocery list, to managing your finances, to simply killing time, there truly is an app for everything.

But for forestry?

Sure, there are plenty of apps that loggers can and do use in different situations. Navigation apps help with routing and location searches. Flashlights, weather alerts and emergency location communicators help keep jobsites safe. Financial apps help keep track of expenses. There are also administrative planning tools that help loggers manage their daily tasks.

Also, contrary to what many young people will say, you can also use a smartphone to call and talk to people.

There are many, many more apps that put a multitude of resources right at your fingertips. They are easy to use and inexpensive, often free.

With the ubiquitous nature of smartphone apps, it seems only logical that the next step would be apps created specifically for logging.

Daniel Turner thought the same thing, so he looked for a logging app that would help his business. But he never found one that did exactly what he wanted it to do.

So he took matters into his own hands.

Turner is a young logger from Stockton, Missouri, who is passionate about not only the success of his family-owned business, but the entire logging industry. Turner Logging LLC is a prime example of a logging operation that has successfully embraced technology resources to positively impact the business today, and position them for success in the future.

Turner took his use of technology to the next level by developing an app. Recognizing an opportunity to streamline his business, and understanding that mobile technology is the future, Turner worked with a software developer to create Timber Tracker. His goal was to create an app designed for loggers, by loggers.

"I'm always looking for simpler and better ways to do things. There was nothing out there to meet my business needs like Timber Tracker, so it was a perfect time to take a chance and go for it. The app has been extremely helpful to date, especially in an industry like ours where time is money," said Turner.

Turner says Timber Tracker allows you to estimate your timber harvest, price your lumber, and prepare and send a quote PDF to your customers. He hopes it will become a one-stop place for loggers to get online and find exactly what you need from any jobsite. The app was developed by The App Pros, LLC, of Springfield, Mo, and will continue to evolve and grow in the future.

"We can keep track of number of logs and footage, instead of mailing receipts or an invoice, just a simple click and it sends an email. Removing time, guesswork and paperwork has sped things up tremendously. You can be anywhere, any time and receive an update. The property owners are also more in the loop," said Turner.

John Deere has also been offering mobile applications to the logging industry for several years. The apps are designed to work with JDLink™, John Deere's remote monitoring system that provides machine location, utilization and maintenance management tools through an easy-to-use web site.

Users have access to real-time information about their machines' whereabouts, production data and code alerts, which allows for optimum performance and compliance with preventative maintenance tasks. All of this data is also available on your smart phone via the JDLink app.

John Deere also created GoFell mobile application for M-Series Tracked Feller Buncher customers available for iPhone® and Android®. The app was designed to assist operators in understanding machine controls, settings and diagnostics to help users get the most out of their machine.

GoFell acts as an operator's quick reference guide, providing loggers with instant access to information about their M-Series Tracked Feller Buncher and tips to customize the operating experience to maximize productivity during regular operations or extreme conditions.

As a logger, you demand more uptime. Fast, accurate diagnosis of machine problems. Rapid, effective service response and the right part, the first time. Better fuel economy. Closer tracking of machines and operators for more efficient operation. While app technology alone will not make or break your business, it will make success more probable for owners like Turner, who are willing to adopt these resources as a means to make their business better.

More importantly, Turner's creation of Timber Tracker is an example of what can happen when a logger embraces technology as a way to make his business more efficient and streamlined. He recognized a need, looked for a solution, and when he didn't find one he liked, went out and created one.

Of course, I wouldn't suggest that everyone runs out to a software developer to start working on an app. What's important is to remember that technology offers a multitude of resources to help you do your work smarter, faster, and easier. If technology can improve your productivity, even just a little, it could mean the difference between success and failure.