Harvesting Technicalities – Technology
The modern forest harvesting machine is now capable of collecting a wealth of important production data. In an exciting advance in forestry technology, this data is now being turned into valuable new information thanks to a unique analytics platform developed by Treemetrics Ltd.
A number of Tilhill Forestry customers are set to benefit from Treemetric’s Real Time Forestry Intelligence (RTFI) system as Tilhill have commissioned the system to be fitted in ten harvesters in parts of Scotland as part of a rollout initiative.
“It’s a revolution in harvesting management and will help us to
manage forests in a more sustainable way with the right trees
being cut at the right time. Better information means better decisions,”
RTFI takes the standard production data as each tree is cut down and then produces a report that is up to the minute. The data is transferred via a unique satellite communications system that was developed over a number of years with the support of the European Space Agency. The tree data is transferred in real time to a secureonline analytics platform. The platform produces important new unique analytics about the value of the current harvest and provides feedback to the harvesting manager to ensure the maximum value is captured during cutting.
The system calculates for the first time the volume per hectare and the number of trees per hectare. Levels of waste are tracked along with the volume of sawlog per hectare. This allows for the comparison of the predicted volumes and values pre-harvest against the actual cutting values.
Regional Manager for Tilhill Forestry Alan Christison explains: “You can see where a harvester is cutting and what it has cut. It also does an analysis of the diameter of each tree and can produce a range of unique reports. For machine operators the job is made easier as, thanks to the satellite imagery of the forest in the cab, they can see exactly where they are in the forest. It also allows coupe boundaries and hazards such as power lines to be geo-referenced so that an alarm is activated in the cab if the harvester enters predefined zones.”
Traditionally, harvesting managers would need to visit every site repeatedly to see what has been cut and whether it matches his or her expectations.
“With RTFI I can simply open up a screen and I can see where the harvesters are and what they have cut from the comfort of my office. I can quickly produce a report and analysis for both the forest owner and sawmill. The system reduces the risk of uncertainty and means the forest owner and sawmill owner can do better business together. It’s a revolution in harvesting management and will help us to manage forests in a more sustainable way with the right trees being cut at the right time. Better information means better decisions,” added Alan.
RTFI tablets sit alongside the harvester computer in the cab and there is a modem in the roof of the cabwith a satellite connection. Each system costs around £3,000 to install.
Tilhill Forestry are currently rolling the system out and we are working closely with our sawmill colleagues to ensure we capture the maximum value from each tree cut.
This really is a win-win scenario for the forest owners, harvesting managers, machine drivers and sawmill managers.