A typical usage scenario is outlined below.

  1. Start the Patchworks model and load the data sets. Any predefined treatments can be loaded (such as the first five-year allocation pattern).

  2. Start the scheduler and allow it to find a spatial allocation that best satisfies the long-term objective function values. Allow the optimizer time to converge upon a stable solution (equilibrium among objective function terms). Time to convergence varies depending on the data sets, but can occur within a few minutes with reasonably sized datasets.

  3. Adjust the objective function terms to undertake a sensitivity or trade-off analysis. Use the model to see what the increase in one objective value will cost in terms of the other objective values. Use the Save scenario feature to capture and record the significant equilibrium levels.

  4. After deciding on appropriate weighting values for the objective function terms, the next phase is to clean up and operationalize the short-term allocation. This is performed by making manual allocations using the point and click interface. The manual allocations can be used to account for factors that are known to the planners, but have been left out of the modelling process.

  5. As manual decisions are being made, the scheduler can continue to run in the background to fill in the allocation. For example, a manual decision might change the treatment timing for a harvest operation. This would result in shifting wood flow from one period to another, resulting in a surplus in one and a deficit in the other. The scheduler could search the solution space and reallocate harvest blocks to rebalance the outcome.

  6. When a satisfactory design is reached, the allocation is saved and a variety of indicator maps and tables are prepared for review. At any time the design can be reloaded and adjusted further.

Patchworks provides a flexible report writer that creates cross tabulations and pivot tables in HTML, PNG and database formats. Custom reports are generated using a range of predefined templates. Sensitivity analysis is a snap using a built in scenario comparison tool.

Output from Patchworks scenarios can be served up on a web site, or included into reports, spreadsheets or other Management Information Systems tools.