Finnish Forest Centre – Digitalization of Field Inspections
The Finnish Forest Centre
Subject of the procurement
Digitalization of field inspections
Value of the procurement
Objective of the procurement
The procurement will support the digitalization of forestry and field inspection services. The aim is to discover and develop new solutions in order to produce comprehensive and better quality forest and field inspection data.
Entities and operators involved in the procurement
- The Finnish Forest Centre experts
- The success of the procurement procedure was ensured by consulting an external expert in the Public Procurement Act.
- Business Finland’s Innovative Public Procurement funding was used for the implementation of this innovative procurement.
Background of the procurement
Forest data is utilized by more than half a million forest owners and numerous public and private forest industry operators and associations. The digitalization of forestry processes improves the quality and reliability of the data. Using digital data collection and analysis methods, accurate and wood-specific data collected in the field inspections can be used to update the forest resources. Also, the data can be used as an initial data for machine learning-based quality management. The collected data related to biodiversity can also enrich forest resources.
Arguments for choosing innovation partnership
The aim was to create a partnership network where a large proportion of the information required by the Forest Act can be purchased in the future
Procurement preparation: specifying the needs
In the winter 2018–2019, the Finnish Forest Centre’s project teams specified the needs, objectives and possibilities for the digital data collection for each type of field inspection. In connection with the digitalization of the field inspections required by the Forest Act, information requests were made to companies and research institutes carrying out remote sensing. In addition, the information needs of the largest operators in the industry were investigated and the forest owners were consulted at the customer meetings.
Tendering of the innovation partners: negotiation procedure
Based on the information requests, an actual tendering process for innovation partnership was launched. Five applications for the procurement notice were received, four of which met the eligibility criteria. A total of three initial tenders were received.
A single round of negotiations was held with all those who had submitted the initial tender.
The aim was to further examine the methodology and capacity of the bidders and specify the detailed content of the final product, which would result from the development. In the negotiations, it was ensured that the implementation of the tendered subject would be realistic. The negotiations provided essential support for the final invitation to tender and the draft contract.
In the negotiations, it was agreed that a sample work would be given by the Finnish Forest Centre before submitting the final tender. Final offers were submitted by two bidders.
Innovation partnership: development phase
The two drone data collection and forest scanning providers who submitted the final tenders met the tendering criteria and both were selected for the development phase. The procurement decision was made in May 2019 and the development phase agreements were signed in June 2019. A plan for the drone-assisted field inspection for the season 2019 was created in cooperation with the innovation partners, and the actual inspections carried out with drones started in July.
Innovation partnership: delivery phase
During the delivery phase, the digital inspections based on drone-assisted data collection were officially incorporated into the Finnish Forest Centre’s inspection activities. The development phase was carried out in a limited geographical area, but the delivery phase covered the whole of Finland. The delivery phase requires a functional method established during the development phase, but further development and quality improvement continue during the delivery phase.
The overall challenge was the lack of similar procurements and examples of them.
Moving from the development phase to the delivery phase meant substantial increase in the delivery volume and speed. This caused challenges, for example, to understand the cost structure of the delivery phase and further to determine a fair delivery price to suit all parties involved.
For the purchaser, the involvement of several providers widens the development visions and increases the security of supply. On the other hand, the involvement of several and slightly different kind of providers poses challenges to the determination of procedures and the content of contracts, since the final product of the service to be purchased is, however, the same for everyone.
- In the development phase, the inspection methods that serve best the needs of the Finnish Forest Centre were identified and the measuring symbols, which are collected digitally in the forest, were found.
- The objective of the procurement was achieved when two of the providers involved in the development phase were transferred to the delivery phase in spring 2020.
- The news of the transition to digital data collection in field inspections throughout the national territory has encouraged new service providers to develop their operations to correspond the new methods developed in the project
- Various operators in the forest sector have welcomed the will and ability of the industry authority to develop the field inspections to meet the modern needs.
The innovation partnership procedure, which includes co-development, responded well to the Finnish Forest Centre’s needs. As a result of the new procurement procedure, the organization's procurement expertise increased. The project showed that the digitalization of the Finnish Forest Centre’s operations is a direction that the customers also expect. The forest and inspection data, which has become significantly more accurate, provides constantly new utilization and development ideas.
Sharing the methods
It is essential to remember that the innovation partnership procedure is cooperation. When procuring a new service, it is advisable to give the innovation partners as much space and freedom as possible so, by using their own assets, they can develop a method that matches the needs of the purchaser. In practice, this means that during the initial tendering invitations and negotiations, it is not advisable to restrain the development phase plan too rigidly on the basis of the purchaser’s vision.
For the fair conduct of the procurement procedure, it is important to share up-to-date information with all bidders equally. In the innovation partnership, discussions take place at many stages. Therefore, it is worth paying particular attention to equal access to information for bidders. In the procurement of the Finnish Forest Centre, taking into ac-count the importance of sharing information enabled successful rounds of negotiations that benefited both the purchaser and the bidders!
lauri.haataja(a)metsäkeskus.fi, +358 50 565 8364
Project Manager, Digitalization of Field Inspections, The Finnish Forest Centre