Caribou Software

Giving you the Edge in Business

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Caribou Spotlight

A Silent Partner That's Truthful About Business Performance

When it comes to understanding the economics of your business, and helping your administrative staff and management work smarter, a good information management system is one of the most valuable business partners you can have. It’s a business partner that will help you sleep better at night, either knowing that your gut instincts have been validated by what your data tell you, or helping you identify where the problems are that you need to correct.

Read some of the excerpts:
“The way the information is linked in the system between time sheets and load tickets lets us easily pull comprehensive job costing information that would otherwise have taken hours to compile, and would have been much more prone to error.”

Each day, the loadermen at Hadaller turn in their load sheets, which itemize out all the loads they loaded that day, complete with the trucker, the mill, and the specie/product information. They enter the loads into The Logger’s Edge on a daily basis, allowing the managers to monitor loads per day to ensure the truckers are getting at least the minimum loads they need to cover their costs. By monitoring this information daily, they can catch problems while they are happening, ask questions to identify the cause of the bottlenecks, and take corrective action immediately.

Each pay period, Hadaller receives an electronic load ticket listing from Weyerhaeuser, which they import into the Logger’s Edge. The software automatically matches up these loads with the loads entered from the loadermen’s sheet, making it easy for the office personnel to spot “missing payments” from the mill so they can ensure they are getting paid for every load they deliver...

In the Woods or in the Office - Where Would You Rather Be?

The software has allowed Bisballe Forest Products to leverage his time much more effectively, freeing him up to spend more time in the woods, which is exactly where he needed to be to grow the business.

Read some of the excerpts:
For Kurt Bisballe at Bisballe Forest Products in Lake City, Michigan, the choice is obvious: in the woods. He would far rather be overseeing his logging jobs at the job sites and seeing first-hand what is working well and what needs improvement. Preferences aside, the reality is that he brings the most value to his customers and his employees when he is able to spend more time in the woods and with his customers, not stuck behind his desk in the office...

Tracking Loads

Caribou Software simplifies and streamlines procedures for Maine loggers.

Each week Crawford's multiple crews develop many loads of different products and deliver them to various markets. Crawford personnel estimate they have shaved at least two full days off the time they used to spend on paperwork.

Read some of the excerpts:
Let's face it. When it comes to adopting computerized technology, loggers as a general rule don't lead the charge. Even in the office, many logging companies are slow to embrace computerization. They may have embraced a computerized accounting system like Peachtree or Quickbooks to handle their overall financials, but when it comes to keeping up with load tickets, they often still rely on rudimentary spreadsheets at best, or worse yet, a #2 pencil and a 10-key adding machine.

That used to be the case with Robin Crawford and Son Woods Company, Inc., a 200,000-plus cords a year entity headquartered in Lincoln, Me. In 2007 the company adopted Caribou Software's Logger's Edge program to help keep track of load tickets and streamline the trucker and crew payment process, not to mention the revenue reconciliation process. They even use the program to keep up with fuel purchases and to automate International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) reporting each quarter.

Timber Talk - May 2014

TECHNICAL QUESTIONS & ANSWERS FOR THE FOREST PRODUCTS INDUSTRY

A Timber Talk reader asks the question "With tax time just ended, I’ve been forced to think about all my costs—especially since I went mechanized. Sometimes it feels like they’re getting out of hand. Got any tips on how I can improve my record keeping?"

Read some of the excerpts:
While calculating your equipment costs might seem tedious, it really is vital because many mills "estimate" equipment costs in order to set logging rates. Specifically, they estimate the costs per productive machine hour that a contractor should be able to achieve for each machine involved in harvesting a cut block. They then convert the hourly cost to a cost per output (e.g., cubic metre), based on an estimated production per hour ratio. This rate-setting exercise theoretically ensures that the contractor earns enough to cover his equipment costs.

The question, of course, is how to arrive at this hourly cost figure, and what exactly it should include. There is no set formula for calculating the cost of a piece of equipment, but an accounting cost "build-up" approach is fairly common. All the relevant expenses are identified on an annual basis and then divided by annual productive (as opposed to available) hours in order to express the cost on a per-hour basis. The expenses generally include routine operating/service expenses, operator costs, capital expenses (depreciation and insurance), and a return on investment.

When performing this cost build-up exercise, there are a number of devilish subtleties buried in the details. These subtleties can have a not-so-subtle impact on the final costing figure.

It's Your Money - Do You Know Where it Is?

Logger's Edge Software is Designed for Logging Businesses

(May - July 2009 edition of the Southeastern Wood Producer Association's Out of the Woods Magazine)

Read some of the excerpts:
Thanks to their investment in The Logger's Edge, a software system designed specifically to help loggers track their business data, Glenda and Dewayne Shepard from Circle S Timber Harvesting, Inc. watch their revenues and costs from one job to the next like a hawk. Circle S is a one-crew contractor in South Georgia that works primarily for one timber dealer.

Often, small contractors like Circle S think they have no need to track their data with a computerized system because they can keep track of all of it in their heads or with rudimentary hand calculations. But can they really? Now that Glenda has all her data in her computer system, she can pull up a tract report showing how many dollars she spent on fuel to harvest a particular job, and she can easily see what those dollar figures represent on a per ton basis because her tract tonnage is right there on the same report. 

Not only that, she can tell her husband exactly how much they have spent on parts and repairs on a particular machine over a given date range, or how much they have spent on fuel from one equipment unit or truck to the next. If she runs a report showing that a particular set of trucks are making the same trips from a given job to the same set of mills, yet one truck is consistently burning more fuel, they can begin to ask the right questions to get to the bottom of the problem. Maybe one truck needs some additional maintenance performed to improve its fuel efficiency, or maybe one driver needs to be coached about his driving habits to help improve the fuel efficiency of the vehicle.

"The software has made my life so much easier," says Glenda. "I handle my load tickets and my bills one time, and that's it. Then I have all my information sitting in the computer and not in piles all over my office. I can select my date range and my equipment units or trucks or tracts, and pull up the data I want to see immediately."

Calculated Gains

Logger's Edge Software is designed with loggers in mind, as these three Canadian contractors can attest.

(December 2007 edition of the Canadian Forest Industries)

Read some of the excerpts:
According to Kelly King from West Pine Contractors in Quesnel, BC: "A logger with a multi-phase operation would be crazy not to have some method for tracking his production and costs in this day and age, whether it is computerized or not. This just makes it so much easier than when we tried to track the information through spreadsheets."

Kelly relies on The Logger's Edge to compare his phase-by-phase costs per cubic metre across all the blocks he has harvested in a season. He also uses the data from the software to compare how his overall costs per phase for the season compared to those same costs from a year ago.

Nighthawk Timber of Timmins, Ontario, also finds that they are spending less time re-handling certain types of information. For example, they do a fair amount of hourly work, especially during the summer months. They used to enter their time sheets into one system, and then re-handle those same sheets to calculate the hourly charge-outs. Now, they simply enter the time sheets into The Logger's Edge once, they set up their employee pay rates, as well as the equipment charge-out rates, and the software generates the corresponding reports needed for both payroll and invoicing automatically.

The investment in Logger's Edge was well worth it for Jason Schuurman, of J.D. Schuurman Contracting in Alberta. He had originally intended to hire a part-time bookkeeper to help keep up with the office record keeping. Instead, he spent roughly $3,000 on the software, and kept up with the records himself.

Sharp Tool!

Logger's Edge Software is Designed for Logging Businesses

(January 2007 edition of the Southern Loggin' Times)

Read some of the excerpts:
After adopting Caribou's system, one logging company in Virginia was able to eliminate the costs of an outside bookkeeping firm by taking the employee and contractor payment process in house.  He insists that he couldn't do without Logger's Edge.

"Load-by-load, mile-by-mile, ticket-by-ticket, the data are all there.  Because they can see their performance week-to-week, I spend much less time answering questions on payday.  Plus, I can generate my trucker settlements in about half the time it used to take."

Dasher says using a system like LE is simply a smart business decision.  "I used to review my numbers only every two weeks. Now, I review them every two or three days.  If a crew's tons are down, I see it right away and can investigate it immediately."

"Caribou's support is great," contends Amy Coleman. "If I call with a question or an issue, I can share my desktop securely with them right over the internet, and they can see exactly what I'm looking at, and take control of my machine if they need to. There's no need for them to come to us. They provide assistance instantly with their remote support tools."

North Woods Standout:

Dick Walsh Forest Products Named Timber Harvesting's Logging Business of the Year

We are proud to announce that one of our customers --- Dick Walsh Forest Products from Park Rapids, Minnesota -- was awarded the Timber Harvesting's 2006 Logger of the Year Award.  Follow the link below to the left to read the full article, and see how the Logger's Edge has benefited the Walsh business.

Read some of the excerpts:
Jodi [Walsh of Dick Walsh Forest Products] is very high on computer software used in the business.  "One of the best changes we've made in a long time is buying Logger's Edge software," she says.  "I called Boise and told them I needed a better way to track deliveries and they referred me to this Canadian company.

The program paid for itself in three months.

She uses the program, developed by Caribou Software, to track timber contracts, keep up with production by product categories, track deliveries and record actual trucking and equipment costs.

You can also read what some of our Canadian clients have to say about our software and support in an article published in the Winter 2006 edition of the Interior Logger and Trucker Magazine.

When Loggers Meet Computers:

(Winter 2006 edition of the Interior Logger and Trucker Magazine)

Read some of the excerpts:
"The biggest thing for us is that they will tailor the program to meet our needs," she [Sue Hagarty of Roga Contracting in Kamloops, BC] said.  Right now we are facing a lot of big issues, such as the bugs and the resulting light loads.  They have helped us and our need to deal with that issue.  As well, they understand the diversity within the industry – the Coast is different from the Interior, and the Interior is different from the North."

"The fuel rebate reporting system is absolutely excellent," she [Janice Himech of John Himech Logging of Houston, BC] said. "In fact, it is such a good system that the Victoria taxation branch actually complimented us on it!"

"We can reconcile statements and it generates a very professional detailed pay statement that I can attach to my stubs," Janice said.  "I know the truckers really appreciate this."

Janice said the support received from Caribou staff has been "stellar".

Says Theresa Phillips of Pitka Logging in Vandorhoof, BC:  "Caribou is always there when I need a hand, either by phone, fax or internet.  I often work in the evenings which makes it difficult when I have problems. I had a problem which I needed help with, but was playing phone tag.  One of the ladies, (Jennifer), knew that I often work late and went way out of her way to post an extensive "self help" instruction page to You don't often find support like that."

Equipment Costing: The Devil is in the Details


Read some of the excerpts:
"Logging companies invest literally millions of dollars in processors, skidders, and other types of heavy equipment to run their operations. But from an economic standpoint, making an investment in such capital equipment only makes sense if the revenue generated by the equipment exceeds the cost. All too often, loggers face the spectre of bankruptcy as a consequence of failing to measure their costs correctly. Just ask any of the auction companies that do so well selling used equipment."

"While calculating your equipment costs might seem tedious, it really is vital because many mills “estimate” equipment costs in order to set logging rates. Specifically, they estimate the costs per productive machine hour that a contractor should be able to achieve for each machine involved in harvesting a cut block. They then convert the hourly cost to a cost per output (e.g., cubic metre), based on an estimated production per hour ratio. This ratesetting exercise theoretically ensures that the contractor earns enough to cover his equipment costs."




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