New offerings boost productivity development in SA

December 16, 2020

Productivity expert Brad Shuttleworth contributed to the development of the new productivity tools designed for small scale forestry enterprises.

The Stellenbosch University Forest Operation Research and Forest Productivity team recently launched an on-line Time and Productivity Development short course and a related and Time-study smart-phone Application to the industry.

These initiatives have been funded by a Forestry South Africa (FSA) administered Department of Science and Technology: Forest Sector Innovation Fund (DST-FSIF) grant awarded to SU-FOR in 2019.

The objective of the grant is to advance South African small-scale forestry operations in South Africa, and to transfer skills and knowledge in the field of productivity development.

The grant’s objective is three-fold:-
• The deployment of a Time and Productivity e-learning short course.
• A modernised version of the FORESTPRODUCTIVITY.CO.ZA Time-study Application.
• A refined Forest Operations Machine and Systems Costing Model which was first released to the industry in 2010.

All three initiative are thanks to FSA DST-FSIF funding, and are available free of charge.

A first for the Industry is the on-line Moodle based Time and Productivity Development Short Course, initially developed by SU-FOR as a face-to-face training module and first presented in 2010 by Stellenbosch University’s outreach programme in the form of 12 discrete training events in KZN and Mpumalanga.

The short course takes in internationally aligned time-study standards, nomenclature and work methods, highly relevant time and time concepts, work measurement and time-study design. In addition, it comprehensively addresses the characterisation of the work area, work cycles, work elements and element breakpoints, sample size calculators, standardised data recording and their statistical analysis to produce robust productivity models and work standards. A significant part of the course deals with forest operations machine and systems costing within the supply chain.

The FORESTPRODUCTIVITY.CO.ZA time-study smart phone app is one of a very few freely available time-study apps available worldwide. It uses predefined harvesting and silviculture machine elements in accordance with internationally accepted protocols and is available on the website.

The app enables users to select the machines to be studied, time the machine’s movement using predefined element buttons, save and export data (in CSV format) for further processing. Time is recorded in either minutes or decimal-minutes. This app is available for Android devices on the google play store (

Versions of this app have been used to train close to 200 foresters, students and researchers and is being widely used in the field locally and internationally. SU-FOR sees this as a cost effectively and efficient technology transfer platform to engender particular skills in productivity development in forest operations to the industry in general and in particular, small scale timber growers.

Contributors and long-standing collaborators with SU-FOR in the development of this initiative include Prof Ben Spong, Forest Operations Extension Specialist from the University of West Virginia in the USA, and Brad Shuttleworth from Forestry Solutions. Brad has long been associated with productivity standards development in the SA forestry industry, and with SU-FOR.

For more information including links to download the time study app and to register for the time study E-learning course, please visit or contact us at

Related article: Advanced Diploma in Forestry Management


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