Real Time Forestry Intelligence

Research and Innovation

Duncan Mackinnon, Wood Energy Development Manager updates us on Real Time Forestry Intelligence.

Tell us in your own words, what is RTFI?

The Treemetrics (TM) Forest HQ software system, which incorporates the Terrestrial Laser Scanning (TLS) volume measurement system and the Real Time Forest Intelligence (RTFI) has been around for some years but take up in UK forestry has been limited. Coillte the state owned forestry company in Southern Ireland has successfully rolled out the RTFI element to it’s fleet of harvester. Following a presentation at the ICF conference in 2016, Tilhill held a limited trial of 2 units, these were based in South Scotland.

The RTFI and Forest HQ allows managers to access the data on board the harvesters and see the location and progress of the harvester and also view the stem file data to see what has been cut i.e. quantities , percentage of each product and log dimensions.  Most harvesters have similar software but this is bespoke to each machine and can be linked to the phone network. The advantage of RTFI is that it is satellite linked and can be operated in any make of harvester.

Who is involved within Tilhill Forestry?

Within Tilhill Forestry the current trial is operating in the Harvesting Central Region and just about to be rolled out in the Northern Region. The current project team includes Alan Christison , Peter Bowsher, Justin Adamson, Mark Brazendale and Richard Rattray from Central Region and Gavin Brown and Shirley Smith for the Northern Region.

It also involves a number of core Tilhill Forestry contractors Jim Wilmer, Colin Brolly, Timber Tech Harvesting, L&F Services and CSP Forestry

Where is Tilhill Forestry in relation to rolling out the technology, do we have any users?

We have 4 units installed but are updating the software and hardware this month (March) and by the end of the month we hope to have 10 units live.

What key data or developments has presented itself in the past year?

Without visiting or phoning the site the managers can see ‘live’ the quantities of timber that have been cut and the percentage breakout of the products . They can compare this against their estimated budget figures. They can also see if the right products are being cut to the correct specification and if the machine is operating within the correct geographic area.

If you had a crystal ball, where do you see RTFI in 10 years time?

Within 10 years I would like to see RTFI units fitted in the majority of the Tilhill harvesting fleet with a similar units fitted into forwarders and lorries. Hopefully these would be integrated into the harvesting SHEILA IT system to show ‘live’ stump and roadside stock.


Picture of Knockbain harvesting site showing where the harvester has cut. These can be seen live for all sites by the manager


Information can be seen on products cut , the %s and volume of all the products and the diameter distribution.