The timber industry is a crucial yet conservative sector, with numerous obstacles hindering its growth and the implementation of innovative technologies.
Despite the potential for increased efficiency and sustainability through innovations like the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, cloud computing, drones, virtual and augmented reality, 3D printing, machine learning, mobile technologies and more, managers are often resist change.
As founder and CEO of Linkiwood – an association of innovators who are transforming the forest products industry – I will explore the primary barriers in the global forest, wood, and pulp industries and discuss the reasons behind managers’ resistance to innovation.
Lack of Investment
One significant issue within the forestry sector is a lack of funding.
Companies often struggle to secure the necessary financial resources to invest in innovative technologies and processes, which can range from $10,000 for simple applications to $1,000,000 for complex ERP/MRP systems, as well as increased operating costs.
Insufficient funding makes it difficult to introduce new and improved practices, ultimately hindering industry growth and the pursuit of sustainability.
Resistance to change
Additionally, resistance to change is a common hurdle. Many employees, accustomed to long-standing methods, are reluctant to adopt new technologies and processes that might disrupt their established routines. This resistance may stem from a lack of understanding of innovation benefits, fear of the unknown, or a lack of motivation to change.
Alex Wysocki, Wood Tech Geek and Founder of Linkiwood
“INNOVATION IS NO LONGER AN OPTION, ITS A MUST HAVE”
Inefficient regulations can also pose significant challenges for the wood industry. Forestry companies often face complex and ambiguous regulations that impede effective operation. Compliance with various rules across different countries can result in added costs, delays, and administrative burdens, impacting the industry’s profitability and sustainability.
The forestry sector is heavily reliant on human-IT collaboration, and many companies may not have the resources to invest in expensive IT staff. Limited access to human resources can restrict a company’s ability to innovate and implement improved practices, leading to inefficiencies and lost productivity.
Short-term profit focus among managers, rather than long-term sustainability, can result in environmentally harmful actions and hinder progress toward sustainable development. This short-term mentality can also make it difficult to justify investment in innovation, which may not yield immediate returns.
The knowledge gap
Lastly, a lack of education and awareness of sustainable practices and innovative technologies can impede progress. Many managers may not possess the necessary knowledge or resources to implement sustainable practices or introduce cutting-edge technologies, leading to inefficiencies, unsustainable practices, and missed opportunities for growth and improvement.
In conclusion, the wood industry must overcome several significant barriers to sustainable development and innovation, including lack of funding, resistance to change, inefficient regulation, limited access to technology, short-term thinking, and lack of education. To address these challenges, forestry companies must prioritize investment in sustainable practices, adopt new technologies, and foster a culture of innovation and continuous improvement. By doing so, the forest industry can achieve its sustainability, growth, and community goals.