Major Investments for James Donaldson Timber

In 2019, James Donaldson Timber made major investments across both sites at Leven and Chorley in order to streamline and improve a number of key internal processes. These investments are detailed below.

Thanks to these investments, the business has achieved improved operational efficiency and has also enabled it to maintain a strong financial performance, resulting in further investments being planned for 2020/2021.

Continuous Improvement with Lean Six Sigma

As a prelude to a group wide Continuous Improvement (CI) programme for the James Donaldson Group, all employees at James Donaldson Timber were involved in Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Services (SMAS) Six Sigma Methodology and Problem-Solving Techniques programme.

As a result of adopting the Six Sigma Methodology, the company has been able to look at its processes to identify and reduce process variation in its sawmilling, treatment and processing.

This CI initiative had encouraging feedback from all staff and has consequently identified areas for further focus going forward, with several projects being progressed to shop floor reality.

Product Barcoding

The business undertook a significant project by installing product barcoding software at Elm Park and parts of Chorley.

As a result of this installation, each product can now be tracked from the point of goods inward, as it moves across the site, until it leaves as a despatch. This is a revolutionary step for James Donaldson Timber as the system has provided better stock control and traceability.

The £250K investment, also gives Elm Park wireless capability to support the barcode scanners in the yard. The final stage of the project will be to integrate the data fully with Bistrack, and the project is scheduled to be fully operational at Elm Park by the end of March 2020. 


An £80K investment was made in Seiki, a closed-loop production scheduling system. This required around two years of preparation, testing and fine-tuning before it could finally be installed.

The system is being used within the MDF line and is networked across the site to better plan lead times and production schedules. This was a challenging process due to the huge variances present in timber manufacturing, however, the software has resulted in better visibility and management of the company’s order book.

Keep an eye on our news section for details on new investments in 2021