December newsletter – Forestry moves online

Stellenbosch University Forest Operation Research (SU-FOR) launched a comprehensive, online, Time-study and Productivity Development short course, funded by FSA administered Sector Innovation Fund (DST-FSIF) in 2019. FSA DST_FSIF funding has also enabled the release of the SU-FOR Time-study smart-phone Application and the update of the 2010 version of the South African Machine and Systems Costing Model. All three initiative are, thanks to FSA DST-FSIF funding, available with no charge to potential user.

The overall objective of the grant is to advance South African Small-Scale Forestry operations and an augmented and directed technology transfer of skills and knowledge in the field of productivity development.

A first for the Industry is the online Moodle-based Time and Productivity Development Short Course initially developed by SU-FOR as a face-to-face training module and first presented in 2010 by Stellenbosch University’s outreach programme in the form of 12 discrete training events in KZN and Mpumalanga. The short course takes in internationally aligned time-study standards, nomenclature and work methods, relevant time and time concepts, work measurement and time-study design. In addition, it comprehensively addresses the characterisation of the work area, work cycles, work elements and element breakpoints, sample size calculators, standardised data recording and their statistical analysis to produce robust productivity models and work standards.

The FORESTPRODUCTIVITY.CO.ZA time-study smartphone application (App) is one of few freely available time-study Apps for forest operations available worldwide. It uses predefined harvesting and silviculture machine elements in accordance with internationally accepted protocols and is available on the website. Users can select specific machines, time machines operationally using predefined element, save and export data (in CSV format) for further processing. Time is recorded in either minutes and decimal-minutes.

This app is available for Android devices on the google play store. Versions of this App have been used to train close to 200 foresters, students and researchers and is being widely used in the field locally and internationally. SU-FOR sees this as a cost-effective and efficient technology transfer platform to engender particular skills in productivity development in forest operations to the industry in general and in particular, small scale timber growers.

Contributors and long-standing collaborators with SU-FOR include Prof Ben Spong, Forest Operations Extension Specialist from the University of West Virginia in the USA and Brad Shuttleworth from Forestry Solutions.

For more information including links to download the time study app and to register for the time study E-learning course, please click here, or contact us at

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