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Leverage wireless technologies in timber harvesting to enhance operational productivity and business profitability
ISSN: 0148-7191, e-ISSN: 2688-3627
To be published on April 14, 2020 by SAE International in United States
Growing needs of forestry products; primarily wood followed by pulp and paper industry have mechanized the process of harvesting timber in most part of world. Such job sites have several machines and vehicles working together to harvest and transport the logs. Timber logging is very similar to crop harvesting with longer harvesting cycle and hence it is critical that every part of it is effectively utilized; timely harvest and transport to factories play an important role. Traditionally, these areas have had little cellular connectivity, restricting communication between operators, machines, land owners and factories. With better connectivity, it will be easier to monitor and operate job sites for example if skidder would know how many trees are felled, how many logs and bunches are created and where they are kept; it would reduce time and fuel spent in searching for logs. Also, with better communication between machines, skidder would know when to pick up logs and avoid longer wait time. Timely pick up of felled trees is critical in ensuring log quality. With upcoming wireless technologies like Wi-Fi, Low Energy Bluetooth, RF Radios or Long-range communication it is not hard to foresee a future where V2X (vehicle-to-vehicle or vehicle-to-infrastructure) would dominate the industry. With a reliable, real-time networking infrastructure in place, Just-In-Time Logging would become the norm, which would drastically reduce the response times to factory demands. From bigger and stronger machines, it is now time for smarter machines to take over the industry. Based on 2017 research data, USA alone has forest land spread across ~7,65,493K acres which contributes to ~10% of world’s forest land and ~25% of world’s timber production for industrial products. This paper would focus on forestry industry in USA and would share the study of wireless technology integration into forestry industry with some use cases and how it impacts key efficiency measures – productivity, uptime and operating cost. Research work would also describe infrastructure needs and challenges or limitations associated with it.