Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


FlexWood Report Summary

Project reference: 245136
Funded under: FP7-KBBE
Country: Germany

Periodic Report Summary 2 - FLEXWOOD (Flexible Wood Supply Chain)

Project context and objectives:

The European Union (EU)-funded collaborative project FLEXWOOD is a Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) project with a three-year duration that began 1 November 2009 and was completed 31 October 2012. The project consortium consists of 14 partners representing 9 countries and is comprised of leading Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)s, universities and research centres and associations who contributed complementary experience and expertise.

The overall objective is a novel logistic system, 'FLEXWOOD', which provides value recovery along the Wood supply chain (WSC). This online platform integrates:

- advanced quality and quantity information on wood resources measured in the forest with novel technology;
- optimisation models for tactical and operational planning (bucking, harvesting, allocation of wood);
- optimisation models and enhanced processes for novel and more flexible concepts for mill production; and
- improved information transfer between all stages of the WSC to create new knowledge for decision making.

Within the FLEXWOOD concept, existing solutions for value recovery opportunities in these areas were tested and / or adapted or developed, which was followed by an interlinking of the single solutions that allows the modelling of the entire information flow with benefits and efficiency gains in time, quality and cost.

Reports are available on the results of the different Work package (WP)s; these cover the following areas of the WSC:

- demands of main industrial sectors in WP 3000 'Meeting of industrial requirements';
- forest resource inventory in WP 4000 'Integrated forest inventory design for optimised quality and quantity assessment of wood resources';
- harvest and transport in WP 5000 'Novel harvesting and logistic concepts for integration of forestry with industry';
- efficient mill production based on advanced information in WP 6000 'Flexible and customer adapted mill production';
- combining the previous WPs in a novel logistic system using Information technology (IT) components WP 7000 'Communication infrastructure for the support of increased wood supply efficiency'; and
- demonstration of the concept on use cases in Germany, France, Sweden and Poland in WP 8000 'Implementation and demonstration of the FLEXWOOD concept'.

Project results:

The strategy in the project was to combine the three research areas of new technologies for forest resource assessment (WP 4000), optimisation of harvest and logistics (WP 5000) and product optimisation (WP 6000) in a novel logistic system that makes use of IT components; the web service based exchange platform (WP 7000). Basis for the research was first provided by the industrial requirements (WP 3000) and the results were finally tested and evaluated in four use case demonstrations (WP 8000).

The project has now ended and reached all of its set goals. The different WPs are described below:

The objective of WP 3000 'Meeting industrial requirements' was to express and to describe the demands of main industrial sectors within the WSC in terms of wood raw material qualities. It covers production of solid wood products (sawmills), pulp and paper (fibre) and bio-energies. Combining industrial demand with new technologies such as remote sensing, which enable to identify wood properties early in the chain, opens the door for more efficient processes and material uses.

In WP 4000 'Integrated forest inventory design for optimised quality and quantity assessment of wood resource' the aim was to develop an integrated forest inventory design for optimised quality and quantity assessment of wood resources. The main objective was to use remote sensing data from both aerial (ALS) and terrestrial (TLS) laser and optical technologies (multispectral and hyperspectral images) to obtain advanced quality and quantity information on wood resources measured in the forest with the novel technology.

WP 5000 'Novel harvesting and logistic concepts for integration of forestry with industry' first developed a generic method to describe and measure different wood supply systems and described the special circumstances for small private forest owner's situation in central Europe. Thereafter, the data needed to build a planning model was described; especially supply descriptions of forest stands via laser scanning and industrial demand. Then more flexible means to adapt the bucking processes in the cut to length harvesters were investigated. Finally, the WP developed a planning model to match industrial demand with forest supply efficiently using operational means i.e. harvest- and transport equipment and road network.

WP 6000 'Flexible and customer adapted mill production' had three objectives:

1. to collect data (e.g. scanning technology) to provide information for modelling the manufacturing processes (saw mill and secondary conversion) and further on to final products (sawn timber and value added components);
2. to create concepts for converting wood raw material into sawn timber and wooden components through radically more flexible manufacturing processes than in the current situation;
3. to integrate the forest optimisation models from WP 5000 into conversion models.

The role of WP 7000 'Communication infrastructure for the support of increased wood supply efficiency' in FLEXWOOD was to deliver and implement an architecture to provide the IT infrastructure for collaboration of many forest related services. This collaboration is a key to the success of the FLEXWOOD project as it allows a complete integrated model of the forest supply chain to be achieved. Only by bringing the various services together can there be a synergistic effect, to realise many new types of knowledge which can be determined before, during and after harvesting. The other important aspect of the architecture is the multitude of potential stakeholders in different locations capable of using the system.

WP 8000 'Implementation and demonstration of the FLEXWOOD concept' first tested the practical implementation of the FLEXWOOD concept in different use cases in cooperation with forest industry partners in Europe; these were in France, Germany, Sweden and Poland. The second task aimed to evaluate the FLEXWOOD concept. More specifically, it was to assess the ability of new technologies (mainly LIDAR) and optimised planning systems to make the WSC more efficient at an acceptable cost. This evaluation was based on four demonstration sites where new technologies were implemented.

Potential impact:

The FLEXWOOD project will adapt and further develop existing processes to industrial needs for an improved and flexible WSC under changing conditions. The outcome will lead to significant additional value and improved process efficiency from forest to mill operations. This will provide extensive benefits for forestry and the forest-based industry, where a win-win situation is expected for the many stakeholders involved. The integrated approach of the project will result in improvements to:

- measurements of standing forests using new laser technology;
- selection, bucking and sorting at harvesting;
- transport logistics; and
- information, communication and decision support systems.

Studies have shown that the benefits indicate significant economic potential. It has been estimated that every percentage increase in average gain throughout the value chain amounts to over one billion Euros for the wood industry in Europe and significant qualitative benefits to the environment. If the full and optimal possibilities throughout the chain were to be integrated in the relevant industry processes and products, the estimation reaches an additional ten per cent in overall gain.

Several more specific examples of expected benefits can be illustrated on the integrated web based tool developed to optimise the WSC. The tool will include, for example, the improved algorithms of wood resource allocation in remote sensing data and, therefore, provide more efficient information flow. With the FLEXWOOD system, forest owners, as well as buyers will have a better understanding and knowledge of their available resources and can use the improved information base to plan logistics, acquisition, harvesting and selling. This will lead to better decision-making capabilities for all actors and a quicker, more flexible response to the changes in market demands and available supply. The intuitive FLEXWOOD tool can also provide an opportunity to better deal with the mobilisation of timber resources held by small scale private forests owners, which is a difficulty facing several European countries. The combination of TLS and ALS, which will be integrated in the FLEXWOOD tool, will enable forest owners and authorities to plan and conduct their inventories in a much more cost-effective manner. The methods developed within the project are to be utilised and commercially exploited by the SMEs in the consortium.

Overall, this enhanced WSC will meet the market demands with novel, logistic concepts, providing an increase in amount and quality of information on wood resources and improved optimisation models. An increase in value recovery will result from the enhanced and faster response to the demands of the different industry sectors.

Project website:

Related information


KOCH, Barbara (Department Director)
Tel.: +49-761-2033695
Fax: +49-761-2033701
Record Number: 56271 / Last updated on: 2013-06-04
Information source: SESAM
Collaboration sought: N/A