Guarantee and traceability are today's buzzwords in the wood products business. Koskisen Plywood Industry has invested heavily in both: thanks to the newly launched ERP system, a specific product lot can be traced at least 10 years back, right down to the gluing of the plywood.
According to Quality Manager of Plywood Industry Anna-Maaret Roppola, customers are setting tougher and tougher requirements and the demand for guarantee agreements is increasing, regardless of whether or not a product holds the CE marking, which ensures quality production processes.
"A commercial guarantee for a product means that specified product characteristics are defined for a given application. Our customers want to guarantee and ensure the entire production process of the end product, all the way to their own customers.
For Koskisen, a commercial guarantee entails an obligation to prove that the product was properly manufactured. This can be accomplished by retrieving all the required information regarding the production lot from the ERP system. The database contains the manufacturing information on an individual product going as far as 10 years back.
“But even accurate traceability data is not always enough. In case of a complaint from a customer concerning the end product, the customer should also have documentation on the transportation and storage of a specific production lot.”
According Roppola, the plywood grades used by the construction and transportation equipment industries entail the greatest risk for Koskisen.
“One example of the importance of complying with the instructions given for transportation and storage concern panels manufactured for the construction industry, where the main requirement is high strength. Most complaints stem from incidents that occur after the product has left our mill. In such cases, all we can do is provide as good instructions as possible. Discoloration and decay in plywood, for instance, are often caused by humidity due to incorrect storage by the customer or during use if the user is not aware of the characteristics of the wood.”
Roppola underlines the importance of the customer knowing the characteristics of the product they have ordered and that the customer is able to inform their own end customers on the correct treatment of the product, for example after installation in a vehicle trailer.
“We have paid a lot of attention to advising customers, and this has significantly decreased the amount of negative feedback.”
Customer feedback is also useful: if a specific product characteristic comes up often in complaints, the product development department can find a solution to the problem.