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Matheus Duarte de Brito

Quality Technical Coordinator at LD Celulose


The construction of a program of forest quality

The search for ways to compete with the expressive and sudden changes in the market has become paramount in many forestry companies in recent times. Entrepreneur and author Adam Grant, in his book Think Again , warns of how relevant it is to rethink “certainties” in the current moment in which we live.

Patterns, methods, mindsets that made our corporate paths so predictable are now volatile in many corresponding situations. The fact is that we immediately need to prepare ourselves technically and mentally to live in a more changing reality. As in any other agricultural culture, in forest cultures, there are factors that we clearly know cannot be controlled (climatic factors, for example). Thus, what is up to us is to adopt effective strategies within our spectrum of action.

Among the possibilities are the control of wood production costs and actions for maintenance and improvements in forest productivity. Related to both perspectives (cost and productivity), the formation of forest quality programs stands out as a path. Structuring and leveraging a quality program in the forest-based industry begins with the management's desire to initiate a process of change. This desire can come from "love" or "pain".

Faced with the organic growth of a business and the arrival of new employees and suppliers, the demand for quality routines emerges as part of the strategy to achieve potential productivity and exceed cost targets. Diagnoses, analyses, discussions of results, technical procedures, people management and even paradigms of the current corporate model, lead and subsidize the formation of a quality management system in the company.

From that point on, new directions unfold for sustaining and evolving the model of wood production anchored in the culture of quality. Among the various pillars that can compose the basis for the formation of a forest quality program, the following stand out: the commitment of the leaders, the clear definition of processes and routines, the technical-operational integration, the training of employees and the promotion of quality culture.

The leadership involved in designing a quality program has, in addition to technical challenges, the mission of promoting trust among stakeholders, a clear business vision and sustaining the new work model, focused on continuous improvement. This challenge can be magnified when, in addition to the need for change, there are, in the company, teams, processes or goals under development and paradigms that have not yet been overcome. Leadership must be effective and committed for the successful implementation of forestry quality as a component of value generation in the day-to-day activities of the enterprise.

By clarifying the vision and strategy, focusing on continuous improvement, and encouraging employee involvement, providing resources and support, leaders take significant steps towards success in operational controls and advances in productivity. Mapping and standardizing processes and routines are other relevant points to strengthen the presence of quality in day-to-day operations. Through routine management , technical support is developed, among other aspects, taking into account the particularities of each forestry site, which are often dispersed, with local management challenges.

A clear understanding of corporate flows also contributes to enhancing and optimizing the different antecedents technicians that teams may have. It is relatively common for operational teams to be made up of employees who carry the most diverse baggage, both technical and personal. It is clear that there is a desire, on the part of professionals, to add to the good results. However, if this entire fund is not worked on in a structured and systemic manner, with the appropriate tools, it will fall short of its potential and may, in some cases, even compromise forest quality.

Technical alignment with operational routines can also lead to gains in productivity and efficiency, in addition to being a source of information for the technical management of the activity, identifying critical gaps. The integrated management of technical processes is another pillar that can be considered key for a forestry quality program in formation. Opening a new front of rapprochement between operation, planning, research and development, via quality, makes the system more efficient as a whole.

Forestry quality, given its close contact with the other forest-based areas of the company, can, via information and structured support in the field, point out needs for adjustments in operational schedules, technical procedures, implementation of new technologies, in addition to contributing significantly to the successful installation of experiments in plantations.

Opportunities are identified at all assessment levels: processes (soil preparation or felling, for example), young forests ( 45-day assessment, for example) or mature forests (assessment after 12 months of age, for example). The integrated view of forestry processes enhances the capacity for analysis, decision-making and assertiveness. The structuring of the quality program will provide an additional front for the categorization of hot demands (see and act, for example), preventive demands or medium and long-term strategies, with good potential gains.

Developing a forest quality program also implies strengthening technical training. Training teams and their leaders, considering their particularities (often at the employee level) and on an ongoing basis, contributes to a culture of quality, whether in a state of formation or maintenance. Creating a quality program often brings distrust, resistance, fears, among other factors. The continued presence of the quality theme, via training, helps to demystify paradigms and dissolve obstacles to a new mindset in the company.

In this way, new employees already connect with quality and, those with longer years at the service, via Technical Operational Diagnosis, for example, remain in line with the commitment to continuous improvement. If quality does not have space in routine training agendas, it will tend to lose strength and the energy invested. Quality and operational training must always go together, focused on providing technical-operational improvement.

Working any cultural aspect in the day-to-day of organizations is not always an easy task, be it in the field of occupational safety, organizational climate and, of course, forest quality. It is not difficult to find sectors of operational quality being called supervisors, vigilantes. In a way this may not be wrong. The difference lies in the level of maturity at which the presence and concept of quality is assimilated, in the face of day-to-day pressures.

Not everyone likes to be evaluated or audited, getting a bad grade generates the most diverse reactions. However, on the other hand, it is rewarding when there is recognition of a job well done, which required efforts and strong mobilizations. It is still challenging for many, but it is possible to see a poor result in terms of quality as an opportunity to evolve and prosper.

For a company to reach this level of awareness and engagement in the culture of quality, forms of communication (horizontal, for example) assume protagonism. Thus, the creation of habits and customs that strengthen the quality process, generating a culture of successful continuous improvement, can be favored. Finally, it can also be considered One of the pillars of a forestry quality program is attention to the organization, frequency and reliability of the information generated.

Integrated databases and analysis (statistics, spectral via digital images, artificial intelligence, among others) they will be able to guide action plans, as well as their priorities, referring to hitherto unknown issues, whose resolutions are not so evident or subjective. For example, implementing a new technology or purchasing machinery.

The data used must be the result of satisfactory sampling (in quantities and with good spatial distribution), with more automated and organized collection and processing methods, so that they can generate intelligible information for different levels of the organizational structure. Questions like “What is relevant to each audience? How and when does each piece of information actually add to each process? Are queries and access to information functional? What should be prioritised? help the entire information management process.

The implementation of these pillars (leadership commitment, definition of processes and routines, technical-operational integration, employee training, promotion of a culture of quality and information management) associated with persistence, organization and good people management are certainly ways to reach satisfactory levels in quality forestry and its consequent gains, such as reducing waste, controlling processes, optimizing resources, meeting the needs of internal customers, fostering innovation, maintaining or increasing productivity and reducing production costs, for example.

Within the conception of quality, it would not make sense to have deadlines for the completion of a forest quality program because new needs, people, adversities, projects, opportunities to be explored continually arise. In summary, the results brought about by a quality system create opportunities that make corporate governance viable and sustain the perpetuity of a company.