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Software Helps Track Timber

New software developed by an Auckland firm is aiming to cut timber companies' costs by efficiently tracking their inventories.

TimberSmart Ltd's computer program enables sawmillers [DRN1]and timber processors to keep track of timber as it is moved about. The project to develop the software was supported by Technology New Zealand, which invests in research into new products, processes or services.

TimberSmart director Darryl Nicolson says efficient inventory management is vital for timber processing and trading companies. "However, outside of the two large players - Carter Holt Harvey and Fletcher Challenge Forests - the industry uses limited information technology. Even now, IT for some industry members consists of little more than an electronic calculator.”

None was using the Internet to swap timber information, which is what the new software does. "New technology makes information readily available and can change how enterprises work," he says.

"Timber is a difficult product from a computer perspective. Company A, for example, might call a grade of timber, say, FR1, but another company might call the same grade No1FR. The software developed by TimberSmart allows the different companies to keep their own naming systems, but still allows the product to be tracked.”

He believes that by using the new system, companies could cut 20 percent from clerical costs, and lift profits by up to 10 percent. Mr Nicolson says TimberSmart is a niche software development and marketing company. "We deal only with the timber industry. We have 10 people here, and I think this new program could create more jobs overseas as people track timber over the Internet.

"Our vision is to establish the model domestically, then move it to international markets including Australia, South Africa, Chile and Argentina. These are the key radiata pine growing regions of the world.”

Mr Nicolson says TimberSmart would not have looked at the project without Technology New Zealand's support.

"Technology can have an amazing appetite for funds. We have put a lot of our money into this. It's also high-risk. But we couldn't have afforded to do it without Technology New Zealand. They were fantastic.”

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