The West European Timber Councils and EUROFORTECH have identified a continuous and increasing demand from the forestry and timber industry sectors for improved access to high quality information products. These include graphical and photographical material, pertaining to the qualities and end uses of timber across Europe. These sectors form a large and important component of the European economy employing over 1 million people. However, their contribution is threatened by international competition from outside the European Union, in particular North America and Asia. Their ability to compete is hindered by a high degree of fragmentation and a low level of technical innovation among the SMEs that account for the majority of business entities operating in the sectors. The West European Timber Councils are national promotion and information centres for the wood industry sector. Their primary objective is the promotion of timber as a material for use in construction and manufacturing. They achieve this goal through various business activities including technical research, consultancy, market research and information dissemination. The existing local methods of supplying and distributing photographic and text information are inefficient and outmoded, involving exhaustive manual searches by timber council staff. Consequently, an appropriate process for the management and delivery of these information products is needed. The overall objective of the EUROFORTECH European Information Bank (TimberFot) is to support the transformation of the business process by which the West European Timber Councils supply and distribute information products to industrial end-users within the European forest and timber industry sectors. This objective will be achieved through the development and implementation of TimberFot. It is envisaged that TimberFot will act as the catalysing force, enabling a smooth transition from the existing methods for supplying and distributing information products to industry to a more efficient, professional and cost-effective process reaching a wider European end-use audience more easily. Specifically, this transformation is designed to support the West European Timber Councils in meeting the following business goals:
- To improve each Timber Council's capability, through the application of information technology, to supply and distribute information (photographic and text) to its national clients including SMEs, industrial organisations, trade associations, research institutes, universities and training organisations;
- To increase sales of information and support technology transfer activities between the European Timber Councils and industry at transnational level;
- To reverse the current practice for supply and distribution, which is characterised by high effort - low revenue - limited reach of target audience;
- To provide a more efficient and professional service by shortening the lead-time, from the initial enquiry generated from the European wood-chain industries and training entities, through to the delivery of the requested information.
The transformation of this process is dependent on three interrelated areas. Each of these will directly influence the degree to which the existing service of supplying information is transformed to meet the demands of the Timber Councils and their national clients:
Firstly, TimberFot will act as an electronic network facility for the storage, management and subsequent delivery of information, by the Timber Councils, to the various user-communities at national level. It will also act as the conduit for information and technology transfer between the Councils and to SMEs and industrial end-users. TimberFot will be the catalysing force in stimulating the transformation of this key business process. It will also facilitate the continuous integration of operations of the West European Timber Councils, and thus support the strategic development of the European forest and timber industry sectors in the face of global competition. Secondly, the existing local methods of supplying and distributing information will be re-engineered to facilitate the efficient uptake of the TimberFot electronic information bank and consequently to meet the business goals of the individual Timber Councils. This will include the installation of the necessary hardware and software for accessing the information bank, redeployment of staff and resources and the development of appropriate exploitation channels, including procedures for point-of-sale activities and support. Thirdly, staff at each of the participating Timber Councils will undergo in-house training on the use and management of the TimberFot facility.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts
1334 BK Almere Buiten
114 28 Stockholm