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Amanda Rodrigues de Souza

R&D Coordinator at Gerdau Florestal


The importance of quality in productivity

Quality is fundamental to guarantee the productivity of forests and, consequently, the competitiveness of companies in the forestry sector. There are many definitions for the term quality, however, in a broad sense, it means a management model that seeks organizational efficiency and effectiveness.

Initially, quality was considered compliance with the requirements of standards and certifications. However, the expansion of its use in Brazilian forestry activities was due to the evolution of forestry, the expansion of forest investments and the growth of the economy in the country, due to the need for companies to be more competitive and to have been forced to adopt models of control and management.

The view on the concept and applicability of quality has evolved, being, at first, treated with a corrective approach, focusing only on the need to ensure compliance with management recommendations. Next, we observed, in addition to meeting the plan, the interest in the controls working in a preventive manner, with opportunities for changes and gains.

At Gerdau, quality analyzes began in silvicultural operations. And, currently, it is present in all of our production stages and has provided several benefits in the processes. These analyzes make it possible to identify process nonconformities and direct the root causes of the problems that we must address.

In our daily lives, we implement the PDCA method in our forests, in which: “Planning” is carried out on which analyzes and when they will be carried out, identifying the problem and analyzing the process; “Execute” is quality monitoring; “Checking” is checking whether the execution is in accordance with what was planned and “Act” consists of standardizing and implementing solutions – thus completing the cycle.

The adopted quality control concept was developed jointly with the operational areas, in a multidisciplinary way. The process is divided into different levels. The first level is called self-control, and is carried out in the execution of forestry activities by the operational team itself.

The second level consists of audits carried out in forestry activities by a specific team from the quality sector, where compliance rates of pre-established parameters are verified. The third level encompasses analyzes and comparisons between the first and second levels and information on forest performance.

With this, we were able to promote teamwork, analyze deviations, address failures, set goals, facilitate decision-making, solve problems efficiently and quickly, standardize processes, provide greater performance in the process and enable cost reduction.

Negotiations and opportunities for improvement need to be regularly discussed with customers, for continuous improvement of the process.

However, for forestry companies that have not yet started quality analyzes in their processes, speed is important, despite the implementation difficulties, because, even if, sometimes, they may be unrepresentative, they will make it possible to identify nonconformities that may impact the process negatively.

In the midst of a competitive scenario of strategies in search of maximum forest productivity, we are investing in forest modernization, adopting quality as a routine tool in our operations, with measurements and management of parameters so that the attainable productivity becomes a reality, surrounding the limiting factors of our forests.

It is necessary to combine factors such as productivity, yield, production cost, availability of resources and maintenance of conditions that make it possible to produce within the productive potential of each forest area and adopt management practices with quality parameters that allow sustainable production.

Regarding the challenges of quality in the forestry sector, we need to structure and standardize methodologies, advance technologies and be agile in solving problems. In the latter case, it is worrying, as the comparative evaluation carried out among forestry companies demonstrates common problems and slow implementation of solutions.

Other aspects that need to be comprehensively analyzed are the technical qualification of the quality sector, number of employees assigned to these functions and employee turnover. Another point that is divergent between forestry companies is the autonomy that the quality sector has to propose improvements and intervene in operations.

Although quality is essential to guarantee the productivity of our forests and evolutions in the understanding of this tool are notorious, this subject still needs to be explored and treated with greater importance, like other indicators of safety, production, costs and others of this magnitude. One of the alternatives is communication and collaboration between forestry companies for joint negotiations with speed and assertiveness.

And, finally, the concern to guarantee the quality of our forests at this time of new expansion of forest areas in Brazil, with high investment in machinery and equipment appropriate for the different relief conditions, tests for new operational practices and studies on the development of high productivity genetic materials that have contributed to the competitiveness of the Brazilian forestry sector.