Clients use supply chain management software to control and improve production processes, while identifying and addressing supply chain production problems. Key benefits can include reduced stock losses, improved speed and accuracy of inventory taking, and higher profit margins. The technology also enables traceability, which can help clients prove the origin of products to satisfy legal and consumer requirements, thus earning price premiums for fully traceable products.
Helveta developed a software platform to track and manage global supply chains from source to final destination. The software platform provides a range of task specific modules for managing supply chains. Customers can select the modules they need or the integrated system, depending on the current and future business requirements. Clients can also add additional functionality as their business grows. Deployed projects have used satellite communication, mobile, wireless-enabled notebooks, servers, wireless handhelds and RFID tags.
Clients tag products with RFID labels and use handheld computers loaded with Helveta’s data capture software to read the tags and record additional information on each tree. The data is then transferred to the central server via Internet or mobile phone connection. The traceability system tracks every log, truck and mill involved in the supply chain. It can be used to check, analyze and reconcile captured information, issuing alerts when supply chain inconsistencies are identified. The server generates business information and delivers reports and alerts based on specific customer requirements. The software can be installed on local servers or provided as a hosted solution and accessible via the Internet. Alternatively, a staged migration from hosted to installed operation is also available.
Helveta completed a pilot project in 2009 in the Malaysian state of Terengganu across 129,143 hectares. The Forestry Department of Peninsular Malaysia and Terengganu State Forestry Department used Helveta’s technology to tag and track trees to help individual supplier companies to verify wood legality and sustainability. The technology aimed to replace the traditional techniques for forest monitoring, which can be expensive and time consuming. Helveta’s software allowed users with low literacy levels to record GPS referenced information using touch screen handheld computers, which can contain a database of icon images in place of text. Officials said they were surprised that the system was simple to use for forestry workers who were not computer savvy. Malaysian officials said they saw improvements in business management and efficiency of the supply chain, ultimately saving money and time.
Although they did not provide exact figures, Malaysian officials said the cost of Helveta’s system was somewhat defrayed by improvements in business management and efficiency of the supply chain. The approximate cost of setting up and operating the Helveta system was $1 per square meter of timber.
Emerging business models and their relevance to developing countries
Helveta has deployed projects in Cameroon, Liberia, the Republic of Congo, Bolivia, Asia and South America. The technology has applications in several sectors but has found the most extensive adoption to-date in the food and timber sectors.
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