About the digital future of the timber industry

Digitalization, cybersecurity, cloud-based solutions and future-proof ERP systems to ensure international competitiveness are the major IT topics in the timber industry. Timbertec is regarded as the market leader in this segment and, as such, aims to provide its customers and partners with the tools they need to be fit for the future in all areas relevant to success and beyond.

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Interview with Kristian Niklasson, Managing Director Timbertec. By Raphael Kerschbaumer in Holzkurier | 18.01.2024

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges currently facing the timber industry?

The entire timber industry must take important steps today in order to maintain its profitability in the future. The whole issue of raw material supply and prices will come to a head in the coming years.

In addition, the keyword vertical integration has become an important component for a number of companies for some time now. However, a deeper understanding of the term also increases responsibility towards partner companies, customers and suppliers. The transition from mass-produced products from the sawmill industry to high-quality structural timber products significantly increases the requirements for efficiently designed processes.

What can TimberTec contribute to the aforementioned process efficiency?

Taking the cross laminated timber industry as an example. No two orders are the same here. However, batch size 1 is associated with a number of challenges. How do I fill my press at all times? What qualities and dimensions of raw material do I prepare, how and where? We at TimberTec are right in the middle of this problem area and can provide our customers with centralized support to ensure that not only the key processes are fully utilized, but also that the entire process and raw material planning runs quickly and smoothly. The usual process is to try to optimize each order in itself. With our decades of experience, we can use our TiCom ERP system to link all company processes beyond the individual project and thus ensure the greatest possible process efficiency from incoming to outgoing goods. This not only saves valuable resources, but also significantly reduces costs. This is what sets us apart as TimberTec and makes us unique.

How is the industry changing in this segment?

The trend is clearly moving towards Software as a Service (SaaS). Our customers want to see IT not as a task, but as a solution. They are experts in the sawmill or glulam sector. We take care of the IT and ERP part. With our 150-strong team of experts in Central Europe and Scandinavia, we can also keep this promise.

Keyword Scandinavia. You recently added an exciting extension to your portfolio with DataPolarna.

That's right. With the integration of DataPolarna last year, we now also cover the entire intralogistics sector. Sipal as a product solution is an excellent addition to our portfolio. Now we can also optimize the entire forklift traffic and thus save valuable resources. DataPolarna has done an excellent job over many years - we are pleased to be able to combine these competencies under one roof.

A company with growth: The Timbertec management team of Kristian Niklasson, Frank Ridder and Andreas Boll (from left) together with Jayne Archbold from the Genii Software Group (2nd from left); Photo: TimberTec

Do you also see Scandinavia as the most important growth market for Timbertec?

With the acquisition of DataPolarna, we have been able to gain a number of customers from Scandinavia, Finland and the Baltic states for TiCom and further expand our presence in these markets. The DACH region is and remains our core market - but we see the greatest potential for growth in northern Europe. Some Alpine companies are already represented in Sweden and Finland. This results in many valuable synergies. Our market presence in the north therefore also has a positive impact on our DACH customers. For example, we are planning to launch SIPal for our existing customers in the DACH countries this year.

In general, however, all wood-related markets are of interest to us. This includes North America, where we are currently actively implementing pilot projects.

DataPolarna already has cloud products. Is this also an issue for the other TiCom applications?

Everything is currently moving towards the cloud. Many customers are still working on local systems. However, these are not only more complex to manage in many cases, but also pose a not insignificant security risk. The cloud promises increased service quality, simple updates and more flexibility.

Top priority for employees and customers: All TimberTec solutions work according to the best possible IT security standards; Photo: TimberTec

The opinion that having your own local system is much more secure quickly turns out to be a misconception after the first incidents that have occurred. Local systems also need to be connected to the internet in a number of areas, and this is an entry point for increasingly sophisticated cyber criminals. A link in an email containing malware is quickly clicked on. Although this topic may sound trivial, we had to deal with a number of such cases last year, which brought entire companies to a standstill.

Cloud-based solutions are not only continuously maintained and updated in accordance with current security standards, but also have resources that would represent a major expense for individual companies.

However, we at TimberTec want to combine the best of both worlds. On the one hand, we rely on cloud systems due to the advantages mentioned, but we continue to work with edge computing. This ensures that production can continue even in the unlikely event of a network failure. All production-relevant process data is also stored and available locally and is continuously synchronized with the cloud. An outage would therefore be like an airplane trip, during which I can continue working normally on my laptop, but the emails are only sent after landing and reconnecting to the network - with our combined solution, a production standstill for software-related reasons is virtually impossible.

TiCom 365 - Cloud and web-based ERP for the timber industry.

The next step: With TiCom 365, Timbertec will offer web-based cloud ERP solutions in the future

How is TimberTec taking the step into the cloud?

Working with cloud-based solutions is nothing new for us; we have been working with them for years. With TiCom 365, the latest version of our established ERP software, we are now taking the next step. TiCom 365 allows us to showcase our decades of ERP and industry expertise in a modern and contemporary environment in an attractive way for new and existing customers. At the heart of this is the high degree of flexibility in the display and process design, which enables us to respond individually and specifically to customer and market requirements.

TiCom 365 combines the two key movements of cloud and SaaS (Software as a Service). It also connects seamlessly with existing TiCom modules and will be available as early as 2024.

Together with our numerous customers, we are therefore fit for the future and ready for the coming challenges in the industry.