New Forest Technology Frontiers: Interview with Anna-Greta Tsahkna of Timbeter.

Posted by on Dec 3, 2020 in forest business, forestry, pulpwood, wood market |
New Forest Technology Frontiers:  Interview with Anna-Greta Tsahkna of Timbeter.

In advance of the International Forest Business Conference on December 7-8, 2020, we interviewed a few of the event sponsors and partners to hear their perspectives on their expectations regarding future forest sector development. For the 6th interview in our series, we sat down with Anna-Greta Tsahkna, Chief Executive Officer for Timbeter.

Can you tell us a little about Timbeter and how you fit into the forest value chain?

When Timbeter’s founding team met for the first time, personally (having a background in IT), I was really surprised that in the timber industry, most of the measurements were still made manually, which is very time consuming, or they were done using only visual observation. Most of the data is still on paper and the employees constantly need to face the high risk of accidents. Transactions are not transparent, there’s a lot of human error included and data is simply incorrect. Timbeter was created as there was no tool available that could be used for the objective, transparent, quick and accurate measurement.

The instant value of Timbeter is time-saving. All the measurements are done in a couple of minutes using Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, and data is available in digital form which is useful for logistics and sales. Timbeter brings together technologies like GPS, cloud computing and API enables companies to track the volumes in the entire supply chain, from the forest to the sawmill/manufacturer. With Timbeter, it is easy to monitor and control the volumes, plan logistics and make sure that the value of each log is maximised. We have a customer who reported that they saved 350 000 USD yearly thanks to Timbeter – and this was the case when only part of their operations was covered. In total, they estimate that the total saving, when all operations are covered with Timbeter is 1,2 M USD.  

Timbeter is a Platinum Sponsor of the International Forest Business Conference, thank you for helping us make this event a reality. The conference will bring together stakeholders from across the forest sector value chain to focus on megatrends that shape forest and wood industry sectors, highlight the transformation of forest-related businesses towards a low-carbon bioeconomy, discuss tensions between sustainability and cost competitiveness, and call attention to new green innovations. Why is this important to Timbeter and how the technology offered by your company may change the way people work in forestry?

Our goal is to support sustainable forest management. Timbeter’s solution helps companies to manage their daily operations efficiently, be more accurate in planning logistics and conduct reporting. Data from forests is often inaccurate and, therefore, the supply chain suffers from many inefficiencies. For example, truck-drivers need to pick up the timber but if the information on the volumes in the stock is incorrect, they have to wait for long hours before their trucks are loaded. With Timbeter, all the data can be tracked in real-time: decision making, planning, monitoring and controlling is done in an efficient manner and driven by reliable data.

In the past year, we have been working in different countries to find ways to bring together the private and public sector, helping companies to reduce the administrative burden connected to the reporting obligations and enable governments to conduct the control and monitoring activities more efficiently.

What are the advantages of the technology applied by Timbeter compared to standard measurements made by foresters?

It is really all about the transparency, efficiency of operations and safety of the employees.  For example, CMPC Chile has reported that there have been no fatal accidents during the measurement process in the 2 years collaboration with Timbeter. Also, the decrease in using hazardous waste (paint) has been enormous – more than 50%. And the data – having a precise overview of the volumes, assortments, exact locations – helps to plan the logistics and next steps in the supply chain much more efficiently. For example, CMPC now plans their logistics based on piles, not storages. And this helps to be much more precise in their planning.

Another example is the Brazilian market, where Timbeter is interesting mostly for pulpwood companies, as we have a special measurement regime for pulpwood measurement. Usually, this is the material that no-one bothers to measure one-by-one, so the estimate is based on subjective visual observation. Timbeter detects in a couple of minutes the pile density (how much timber is in the pile without air and the bark), the number of logs, diameters and the average diameter. Another example from making inventories of large piles. Timbeter is also capable of making measurements from large piles, it automatically stitches together up to 25 pictures. So we have measurements where there are more than 13,000 logs detected. It would be pretty hard to count them one-by-one.

Just recently Biometria (the independent measurement authority in Sweden) approved the solid wood (pulpwood) measurement on trucks where Timbeter cooperates with the Swedish company Cind. Trucks drive through the gates of the pulp mill and the solid volume is being automatically calculated, based on Timbeter’s detection.

Do you believe that new technologies in forestry are a part of a sustainable future?

Forest 4.0 will be based on data and digital solutions, like Timbeter, and will help companies to achieve their sustainability goals. The forestry sector has an important role in providing renewable material and fighting illegal logging. Our goal is to contribute to the sustainable management of forests and forestry plantations. Digital solutions like Timbeter help companies to be more efficient and transparent and also easily provide needed data for the government that will help to fight illegal logging. We are happy to be working with companies, governments and state forests, non-governmental organizations, and many diverse stakeholders in the forestry sector committed to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Transparency, fair-trade, efficient use of resources – these are all very important topics.

Anna-Greta, we want to thank you and Timbeter again for helping us put on the forest business conference. Is there anything else that you would like to mention about the event or the development of your company?

We have developed our solution step-by-step with the help and feedback from our users making sure that the solution covers all the needed requirements and even more. Luckily we have partnered with companies that are leaders in the industry to implement our technologies in their daily operations. So today we can really say that our solution is being used globally.

We are happy to cooperate with Poznan University of Life Sciences. They conducted really detailed tests to verify the accuracy of Timbeter compared to standards used in the region. The Faculty of Forestry and Wood Technology as well as the Forest Experimental Station are planning to use Timbeter in everyday operations and will also use the solution in educating future foresters. Also, we are thankful to the Polish State Forest who have demonstrated their interest towards our solution and are currently conducting the pilot project.

Thanks again for taking the time to talk with me; we are looking forward to continuing to work with you. Looking forward to the presentation of Martin Kambla (CTO & Co-founder of Timbeter) at the International Forest Business Conference
(7-8 December 2020, registration closes soon). 

Before founding Timbeter, Anna-Greta had been working mostly in the IT field, project management, marketing and communications. During her work at Estonian biggest ICT company Nortal, she started as a bid manager, being responsible for all major international tenders. She also participated in large projects as a training manager, coordinating and executing training for public sector institutions. Later, as a Marketing Director, she was responsible for all the marketing and communications, that included coordination of the work of sub-departments in 6 different regions, planning and executing group-wide marketing strategy and activities. Anna-Greta has also broad experience working in the field of public administration, being responsible for the Planning Committee work in Tallinn City Centre and as a member of Tallinn City Council. Anna-Greta graduated from the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Tartu University with an MA degree specialized in economics policy (liberalization of the energy markets). Before that, in 2003, she graduated from the same university with a bachelor degree in International Economics and Economics Policy. Married, 4 children.