Mobile Computer System Helps Manage Timberlands for Boise Cascade

In March, Boise Cascade Corporation, a timber company based in Louisiana, completed installation of an automated timber cruising system that interfaces directly to its existing host computer system. The company's foresters can now survey woodlands electronically with improved accuracy and speed.


A tangle of brush and tall trees greets the Boise Cascade forestry crew as they prepare to survey the surrounding area. They are fully prepared to deal with this situation, thanks to the timber cruising program provided on the rugged Norand SP6300 handheld computer. Boise Cascade, which manages over half a million acres of timberlands in Louisiana, embraced the technology for the sake of increased operating efficiency in its forestry department.

On this day, the forestry crew is visiting the site to perform a survey of the timber in the area so they can later determine just how much volume the tract will produce when harvested. They only survey a small sample of the area, so thorough and accurate data recording is paramount.


The foresters were equipped with a Norand SP6300 touch-screen computer loaded with special forestry software designed by Handheld Systems, a Portland-based premier solutions partner of Intermec/Norand. While at the location, the crew was prompted by the mobile computer to answer a series of questions about what they observed at the site. Using a stylus or their finger to touch the screen, all of the questions were answered quickly.

Other observations were captured by typing directly on the screen using the on-screen keyboard. The text was displayed in a notepad area and stored in the computer along with the rest of the information about the location.

This clearly captured information would later provide a concise word picture of what the harvest crew would find at the site and what the paper mill could expect to receive.

At the end of a full day of timber cruising, the foresters headed back to the office where they connected the Norand mobile computer to a Windows NT Server and uploaded the data collected that day to the company's forestry database.


"The data collected in the field with this system is the basis of the management decisions we make on a daily basis. The field foresters appreciate how easy the system is to use and I value the rigorous error-checking built into the program, resulting in high quality data to use in making those management decisions," said Ellen Voth, Forest Analyst.

By using custom software designed by Handheld Systems and the Norand mobile computer, Boise Cascade is able to enter data quickly and efficiently in an easy-to-use application. The precision and quality of the data virtually eliminates return trips to the site to collect missing information and produces accurate volume reports. Productivity in the forestry group has increased with the implementation of the Norand mobile computers and timber cruising software, and user acceptance has been high.