- freely available
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2019, 8(1), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijgi8010041
- Unstructured communication: Communication is mainly carried out using verbal interactions through radio sets, phones, WhatsApp groups or spreadsheets shared between actors within and across organizations. This results in scarce documentation or archiving of agreements and supplies and may lead to different states of information at each stakeholder level.
- Non-standard information and process structure: Even within organizations, there are often different kinds of information and processes utilized for planning processes. In many forest enterprises, the decision processes are different depending on the forester in charge. This results in different ways of information handling lacking a standardized information exchange or archiving.
- Varying communication channels: Decentralized file-oriented data handling as well as diverse software and planning tools are used within and across organizations. The current state is a communication mixture of electronic delivery systems, verbal communication and analogue supply notes with no standardized way of sharing information due to different software tools and ways for making and managing deliveries. This leads to many media disruptions between the processes and tasks in the FbSC.
- Unstructured sources of information: Fourthly, during the daily processes, different kinds of information are created and need to be integrated into one framework, which include form entries, map visualizations, environmental information (e.g., forest streets, forest district borders, woodpile locations, turning areas) and sensor information (e.g., GNSS positions, truck activities, weight sensors). As all of this information is contained in closed systems and do not have documented interfaces, an integration is very complex.
- Specific software solutions: This vast amount of different communication approaches has been developed out of the need to exchange information, but without having any software solution at hand for a “digital forest”. Such a solution additionally needs to consider the context and role of the users because different users need different information at different process stages.
- Limited common picture: Finally, these challenges contribute to the fact that only a very limited common picture can be derived. In detail, the common picture should combine processes of the forest-based supply chain horizontally and vertically using forms and maps integrated in one or several dashboard(s). Such a system would pave the way for a process and data standardization and result in the possibility of archiving, sharing and analyzing data of the FbSC.
- What are the common roles and tasks that are required to create collaborative dashboard maps for the digital forest in the FbSC in procurement processes (in Austria)?
- What are the effects of a community-based/role-tailored map dashboard on management and planning tasks in the procurement process in the forest-based supply chain?
2. Relevant Literature
3. Software and Design Approach
3.1. Technical Open-Source Workflow
3.2. Task-Oriented Card-based Design Approach and Communication Strategy
3.3. ISA-95 Based Conceptual Model
4.1. Identified Roles and Tasks
- In-house and external forest workers responsible for harvesting and forwarding tasks
- In-house and external truck drivers that pick up the logs and deliver them to the customers
- Customers/controllers from production facilities (e.g., sawmills)
- Site managers and foresters that work together and manage the harvesting, transportation and sale of log processes
- Register woodpile on roadside (the specific dashboard map app “Harvester/forwarder app” has to provide create, read, update and delete operations)
- Plan and manage deliveries and transportation of logs (the specific dashboard map app “Driver app” has to provide create, read, update and delete operations)
- Acquire return deliveries and optimize routes by exchanging freights (the specific dashboard map app “Freight exchange app” has to provide create, read, update and delete operations)
- Monitoring of street barriers, trucks and their delivery state (the specific dashboard map app “Monitoring app” has to integrate information from diverse sensors e.g., GPS, smartphones and OBD-II interface; read operations)
- Create reports that summarize the amount of wood per site and the planned deliveries (the specific dashboard app “Reporting app” has to create the selected report dynamically; read operation)
- Inform about incoming freights and amounts of wood (the specific dashboard app “Geofencing app” has to show some kind of alerting if a truck arrives within the next e.g., 15 min including some additional information about the goods)
4.2. Presentation of the Web Mapping Apps of the Role-Tailored Map Dashboard Prototype
4.3. Evaluation of the Role-Tailored Map Dashboard Prototype
4.4. Effects of A Role-Tailored Map Dashboard
4.4.1. Qualitative Effects Based on Field Interviews
4.4.2. Quantitative Effects Based on a Now VS. Then Comparison
- Digital files/lists containing information about current woodpile storages (e.g., location, amount of solid cubic meters, quality, etc.) are filled by site managers/foresters for their territories and are printed and handed-out to the specific truck drivers in analog form (at most once per week) → media disruption
- If there are changes, the truck drivers are informed via telephone (there are no new lists) and also if the truck drivers have any questions (e.g., regarding the exact location of a woodpile) they also use their phones → media disruption
- The site managers/foresters update this information digitally when they are in their offices (if there are many different changes, sometimes new analog lists are handed-out) → media disruption
- The truck drivers annotate the changes on their analog lists → media disruption
- In addition, the truck drivers exchange information with each other regarding specific details (e.g., swapping places, to avoid “collisions” on small forest streets, delays, etc.) via:
- Phone and radio → media disruption
- Small WhatsApp groups → media disruption
- There are internal electronic systems for digital delivery planning available where the site managers/foresters can manage and monitor deliveries where the truck drivers get their specific digital delivery notes directly from → media disruption
- The site managers and truck drivers insert information about the deliveries and send their digital delivery notes to customers using external electronic systems too, but these tasks are part of the wood processing stage of the FbSC that was not the main focus in our current prototype
- The site managers/foresters correspond with different persons and using different media for planning the transportations:
- They use phones to communicate with their truck drivers (e.g., to get information when a delivery is done) or to talk to customers (such as sawmills) → media disruption
- They have additional WhatsApp groups with specific truck drivers, foresters and site managers → media disruption
- They write emails with customers (e.g., quotations/offerings) → media disruption
- Having a common IT solution which incorporates standardized interfaces is important to foster data harmonization, standardization and interoperability within and across forest companies.
- The usage of open-source software/solutions facilitates to share the final map prototype without high costs or licensing issues.
- To follow a user-centered design approach that involves the users in all the development phases is important to create a kind of “bonding”. In addition, the integration of design guidelines, common visualization strategies and user evaluations is important to develop a map dashboard that meets usability goals and an interface that is on-trend.
- Due to the internet connection problems within the forest, a solution that works online and offline is inevitable.
- Splitting the map dashboard into several small and role-tailored map apps aiming at fulfilling specific tasks reduces the complexity and makes the overall prototype clearer, easier to understand and thus, more user-friendly.
- The task-oriented design metaphor is a suitable way for presenting a role-tailored map dashboard.
- All of the experts that were involved into the development and evaluation of the map dashboard prototype liked the “one-task-one-app” philosophy and having a tailored view on the information with regard to their specific needs.
- Data sharing, especially across organizations is a critical issue and companies are often not willing to share their information.
- Not everybody likes changes and new technologies, thus it is not easy to integrate a new system into a company. However, it takes a longer period of time to change working habitats and processes, as well as to integrate a new system (such as our role-tailored map dashboard) into a forest company.
- The role-tailored map dashboard approach can be successful only if all stakeholders insert the information needed and submit their updates regularly.
- Monitoring and tracking of devices, machines and processes is a critical topic. Nevertheless, the participating truck drivers had fewer problems with privacy issues than expected.
- Having the information in real-time is not as important as expected, because the people who were involved in the testing phase stated that they submitted their updates a few times per day (mostly in their offices or during short waiting times). Due to the fact, that the users use the map dashboard at different times, the information has to be of real-time nature to ensure that the information is up-to-date.
- Longer test periods involving different forest companies, as well as the involvement of more participants is needed to get generalizable and reliable results.
- The number of media disruption in the FbSC is a suitable measure for doing a now vs. then comparison to find out quantitative aspects of integrating a role-tailored map dashboard.
- A comprehensive study is needed involving all stakeholders to validate the presented findings.
- The reduction of the number of media disruption depends on the fact that all persons involved into the specific processes of the FbSC use the dashboard correctly. This means, if the people still make phone calls instead of inserting the information into the dashboard system, the number of reduced media disruptions would decrease accordingly.
Conflicts of Interest
- Age (optional)
- Role/position within the company (e.g., truck driver, forester)
- How long have you been working for [name of company]?
- What are your typical tasks or activities on a working day?
- For which of these tasks do you use one of our developed apps from the role-tailored map dashboard?
- In general, which apps do you use most often?
- If more than one app is used, which app do you use for which task?
- Have you already gained experience with similar systems before using the developed role-tailored apps, or do you already have experience with web maps in general?
- How do you like the idea of a role-tailored map dashboard consisting of different task-oriented apps as a common view for all the roles in your company? (rate from 1 “very good” to 5 “insufficient”)
- In your opinion, how helpful is the entire dashboard with all the different apps? (rate from 1 “very good” to 5 “insufficient”)
- Which of your tasks have changed through using the dashboard?
- How were these tasks performed before (e.g., paper notes, PC)?
- Did the different apps of the role-tailored map facilitate your tasks?
- What is the major difference to before using the dashboard?
- Is there now information that you did not have before?
- Are you making decisions differently based on what you see in the apps (e.g., where to pick up the next woodpile)? Do the apps influence your decisions? If yes, which decisions?
- Are you planning tasks differently than before using the dashboard?
- Has the use of the dashboard apps made things easier for you in everyday working life?
- If so, what is now better than before (please list some advantages that arise for you due to the use of the different dashboard apps)? What is the added value for you?
- If not, has it become more complicated for you, or has anything become more difficult? And if so, what has become more difficult?
- How long have you been using the dashboard at work (how long is the trial period for you)?
- When or at what times within a working day do you use the apps (e.g., in between, just before breaks, just at the end of the day, immediately after the activity)?
- How many times per day do you use which of the available apps?
- How much time do you need per day for doing all the necessary entries?
- Intuitively, do you gain time through the system or do you need more time than before?
- Do you use the app rather to get information from the others (passive or consuming - read), or do you also insert information for the others (active filling - write)?
- Which information is mainly important for you?
- What are you looking up? Respectively, what information do you enter?
- Does the current division into the different apps make sense for you? Are the apps well divided or would you rather prefer to have a different division?
- Do you feel more surveilled than before? Do you have any concerns (e.g., privacy issues) when using the apps?
- Did you get any introduction on how to use the dashboard apps?
- If yes, was this introduction necessary for you? Respectively, was this introduction enough to understand everything and to use the dashboard on your own?
- If not, would you have needed an introduction?
- In your opinion, is the overall use of the dashboard complicated and complex? Respectively, did you have any problems with the apps in the beginning? If yes, which problems?
- How would you rate the complexity of using the apps? (rate from 1 “very easy to understand” to 5 “not easy at all”)
- How satisfied are you with the overall role-tailored dashboard and its apps? (rate from 1 “very satisfied” to 5 “not satisfied at all”)
- Until now, which problems occur during the use of the different dashboard apps (e.g., internet connection, GPS signal, size of items on mobile devices)?
- Do you want to keep using the apps?
- How much do you like the tile design on the start page? (rate from 1 “very good” to 5 “insufficient”) (1–5)
- How understandable is this start page? (rate from 1 “very good” to 5 “insufficient”)
- Does this page help you to navigate to the different apps? (rate from 1 “very good” to 5 “insufficient”)
- Do you always use the start page to get to the apps (or did you save the links to the apps directly in your web browser)?
- How do you like the task-oriented approach ("one task one app")? (rate from 1 “very good” to 5 “insufficient”)
- How intuitive is the system?
- How well is the reality (your everyday working tasks) depicted with the different apps?
- Which function do you use most frequently (e.g., make new entries, delete entries, edit entries or only "read" information)?
- How well are the tasks implemented that can be performed by using the dashboard? (rate from 1 “very good” to 5 “insufficient”)
- How well is the combination of the different tasks and information from you and your colleagues? (rate from 1 “very good” to 5 “insufficient”)
- Do you like the combination of input forms and interactive maps showing all the entered information (or would you prefer to separate these two things)?
- In several apps, there is a step-by-step guide in the menu, how do you like that? Do you think that’s good or helpful (especially in the beginning)?
- Do you have all the information you need? Are you missing specific information in any of the apps (e.g., paths, points of interest)? Do you need additional data?
- Do you prefer to use the street map or the satellite image as background map?
- For editing entries, are you rather using the toolbar in the header (top right) or do you use the additional possibility to open the editing menu through the identify window?
- How satisfied are you with the legend and the symbols used in the different mapping apps? (rate from 1 “very good” to 5 “insufficient”)
- Are the chart symbols that show how much cubic meters of wood are available at each storage location meaningful and legible? Do you like the presentation of the woodpiles as dynamic charts?
- Please rate the following elements (each from 1 “very good” to 5 “insufficient”):
- The color scheme
- The header
- The icons within the toolbar (pencil for editing, recycle bin for deleting, etc.)
- The division and arrangement of map and menu (layout)
- The symbols within the map (charts, color of lines representing streets/paths, etc.)
- The size of icons and buttons
- In your opinion, how important is it to get the information in real-time?
- Which information of your colleagues is the most important for you?
- Finally, what do you like most about the role-tailored dashboard? Respectively, what is the most significant added value for you?
- What do you dislike or what do you think is missing in the overall dashboard?
|Topic||Pro/con||Statement||Number of Participants|
|Transparency of processes and information||pro||Everybody who is involved into the FbSC has the same knowledge||3|
|pro||Better overview of material flows||1|
|pro||If everybody makes updates, then the up-to-date information is a big advantage in contrast to the actual situation||1|
|pro||Remove restricted site thinking||1|
|pro||Better overview of all tasks and a common picture/view||2|
|pro||Presumptive, so it would be easier to make specific decision||1|
|pro||Short-term changes could be regarded easier (real impacts would be seen after a longer test phase only)||1|
|Interoperability and data sharing||pro||Through sharing information with other truck drivers using a common system, it would be easier to outsource cost-intensive and broad freights||1|
|pro||Using a central database enables to create dynamic reports and enables to perform different kinds of analyses||2|
|pro||Improved networking/crosslinking; facilitates to “look beyond one’s own nose”||1|
|con||Movements could be tracked and some kinds of conclusions can be made (maybe, some people would feel to be more observed then before)||2|
|con||A truck driver would not need this shared information, but believes that the benefit is rather for the foresters and site managers||1|
|con||Data from other foresters/sites are not relevant, the benefit is rather for the truck drivers||1|
|con||Internal data sharing is no problem, external data sharing could be critically||2|
|pro||Several people would have more information than now||1|
|con||If somebody does not want to share information, it is easily possible to enter no or wrong information||1|
|Reduction of media disruption and complexity||pro||All persons involved in the FbSC know the exact locations of log pile storage places and figures of cubic meters (without having to call someone on the phone)||1|
|pro||Reduced complexity through having a central database and an easily usable/intuitive user interface||3|
|pro||Specific tasks will get easier (e.g., navigation to the log pile storage places), because the drivers do not need additional descriptions by colleagues on the phone → map that shows log pile storages is a big advantage||3|
|pro||Having standardized forms enables to harmonize the data and information (even within the company)||1|
|Decrease resources (costs and time)||pro||The site manager believes that it is possible to save time through our approach over longer time period → if the map dashboard is updated and filled well, it would be possible to predict amounts and make conclusions about truck workloads and to create reports automatically||1|
|pro||Having up-to-date stock values on a centralized point (across the different sites) enhances the allocation of specific delivery notes → cost-intensive waiting times can be reduced and it is possible to drive to the production facility (customer) directly||1|
|pro||The overall forest enterprise could benefit from this system||1|
|pro||More efficient documentation of data||1|
|pro||Raising efficiency of the workload could be possible||2|
|pro||The map dashboard could be valuable for just-in-time planning||1|
|con||Could not really recognize a facilitation, maybe it took a little bit more time per day for make the additional entries||1|
|con||Until everybody is used to the new map dashboard, some additional time-efforts would be needed||1|
|Willingness for further use and additional issues||pro||Want to further test and use the prototypical map dashboard (on condition that everybody takes part)||3|
|con||Would further use the map dashboard and make entries if others benefit||1|
|pro||Long-term goal is to integrate this map dashboard completely in our daily life||1|
|pro||Reality is good depicted in the system (extensive and realistic task handling)||1|
|pro||There are further points that could be integrated and enhanced (further detailed information about special ranges of wood, further types of reports, additional estimation data, etc.)||3|
|con||For a permanent integration, an offline solution would be needed→ because there are many areas without any mobile connection available||5|
|pro||Want to develop an offline solution and further enhance the map dashboard in a continuing project||3|
|con||Real-time data is not of very high importance, because the system would be used 1–3 times per day||3|
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