Research Question: Can GIS technology be used to optimize straw harvesting operations?
Abstract: Isobord, a start-up company that is setting up a new strawboard production plant in Manitoba, Canada, is facing critical operational problems that threaten its future. Isobord’ s product is a high quality particleboard substitute that uses straw, rather than wood, as the main raw manufacturing material. To achieve viability, Isobord must develop processes to carefully coordinate and manage its straw baling, stacking and hauling operations. Through effective information systems, Isobord has the potential to reduce the amount of equipment it needs to purchase to meet straw harvest requirements. A small investment in optimization technology could yield considerable cost savings if the efficiency of capital equipment can be improved. A geographic information system (GIS) / relational database management system (RDBMS) solution is being explored, but budget and time constraints, as well as organizational inexperience, seriously threaten the project. An information technology decision must be made immediately if there is to be any hope of implementing technology to manage the first year’s straw harvest.
Implications: (1) IT supports operations; in this case, impossible to do manually. (2) IT was not the “solution” – the object is not technology, but production & delivery of bales. (3) One “intrapreneur” (a motivated employee) solved the problem, before they even understood the problem. (4) External consultants can be useful, but close knowledge of the business is necessary for a true solution.
Citation: Neufeld, D.J. & Griffith, S. (2000). Isobord’s Geographic Information System (GIS) Solution. Annals of Cases on Information Technology, volume II, edited by Mehdi Khosrowpour, Hershey, Pennsylvania: Idea Group Publishing. [link]