Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An international study introducing methods to improve forest energy supply structures in different operational environments


Operational efficiency of forest energy supply chains in different operational environments
Doctoral dissertation by Dominik Röser
Forest biomass for energy is an essential component to meet the national climate targets set by all European countries. Therefore, the efficient and reliable supply of forest biomass from the forest to the end user is essential. The dissertation applied a three-dimensional approach that investigated biomass supply structures from a technical, social, and economic viewpoint in different countries across Europe. By having this understanding of the different dimensions it is possible to develop holistic solutions that support and improve operational efficiency, not only at individual stages, but that are applicable to the entire supply chain structures. Due to its applicability in different operational environments, the developed method is also suitable in a global context to improve the operational efficiency of existing forest energy supply chains and to support the transfer of supply chains to new operational environments.

Supporting knowledge and technology transfer of Finnish forest energy expertise

The selected methodology was found practical to investigate the complex relationships between the chosen technologies and the different forest energy supply chain actors and stakeholders. The method allows gaining a broader understanding of the challenges at different stages of forest energy supply chains and how they relate to each other. Furthermore, it captures the effect of different aspects and characteristics of the various operational environments on the setup and organization of supply chains. This will be valuable knowledge when Finnish companies want to promote their products to new countries with less experience in regards to the use of forest biomass for energy.

Timing and proper planning of forest energy operations is key to success

The thesis also revealed the importance of proper timing and planning of the different operations and processes. It was found that it is easy to improve supply chains by proper planning and timing of the operations. This means that it is not always necessary to invest in new machines or technology but that we have to focus more on making existing supply structures more efficient and thereby contribute to achieve the climate change targets.

An international approach

The studies which took part in Finland, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Scotland, included different aspects of forest biomass supply chains. The effects of climatic conditions, covering of piles using Walki’s covering paper, and partial debarking on drying of roundwood were studied in four experimental trials located in Scotland, Finland, and Italy. The chipping of forest biomass, using a chipper from the Finnish manufacturer KESLA, was studied in Germany and Finland. The study was performed to identify the chipping productivity under varying conditions and explores the effects of machine set-up and differences in the working environment.

Furthermore, the organization of supply of the Eno Energy Cooperative in Finland and a MW Biomasse in Bavaria, Germany was studied. The study examined all processes and interlinking details that have to take place to deliver forest energy from the forest owner to the final customer.

Finally, the applicability and feasibility of Nordic harvesting technology and methods was studied in the Scottish Highlands. An analysis of the effect of the operational environment on technology selection and design of the supply chain was carried out in order to better utilize local resources.

A link to the dissertation can be found from HERE

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