Log measurement technologies forefront of June series

A key focus for this year’s WoodFlow 2018 event running in June is log measurement, scaling and tracking. It’s being a major issue for the forestry industry for a number of years. Technologies being trialed over the years though for a number of reasons haven’t quite lived up to the hype. Wood represents on average about a third of delivered log costs at the mill or port. Accurate, quick, clean, repeatable and cost-effective wood volume estimates are therefore critical to the forest owner, the manager and to the contractors.

Poor log measurements impact not only on the returns for the grower and the harvest and haulage contractors but can also have a major bearing on contractual business relationships. Although laser scanning has become a mature and more affordable technology for log measurement in forestry operations, it still remains expensive to adopt and, in some instances, difficult to implement in some real-life operations. Measurement where payment is based on green weight, manual measurement or weight to volume conversion factors all have their limitations.

As part of the upcoming WoodFlow 2018 series, Mauricio Acuna from the Australian Operations Research Alliance will present findings from recent trials undertaken with local industry using multi-view photogrammetry and commercial 3D image processing software. It’s being tested as an alternative method to automated volumetric measurement of truckloads. The study has also been investigating the accuracy of truck volume calculations using photogrammetric methods and 3D reconstruction software compared to manual systems.

Smart phone technology for log measurement is another area that’s been trialled, both in this region and internationally. Timbeter, a European company has gained perhaps more traction in this space than others. Timbeter’s (formally known as Timber Diameter) team came together in October 2013 at a Garage48 hackathon event in Pärnu, Estonia. The team spent over 2 years developing the log detection algorithm and Timbeter launched worldwide with their log measurement system in March 2016.

Very simply, log measurement in the bush, in a container or on truck is undertaken by taking a photo with a smart device like a mobile phone. Piece count and volume data is recorded digitally and is able to be shared by link. The system now has over 10,000 users and is used every day by the Estonian and Lithuanian State Forests. Lithuania is also the first country to make photo optical measurement the official method for timber measurement. Vallo Visnapuu, Chief Executive Officer for Timbeter will be outlining just how the system works and is being used operationally by forestry and wood transport companies at the WoodFlow 2018 event.

In Australia, Islay Robertson, COO of HQPlantations will also be outlining progress on the development of a Code of Practice for using scanning technologies at the mill for the volumetric measurement of individual logs for payment purposes.

Woodflow 2018 runs on 20-21 June 2018 in Melbourne, Australia and again on 26-27 June 2018, Rotorua, New Zealand. It’s run every two years for Australasia’s forestry managers, harvesting and wood haulage contractors and transport planners. In addition to the two days of tech updates, conference delegates also this year have the opportunity of registering for two pre-conference workshops, one on cloud-based operations management and the other on transport planning. Both are free to Woodflow 2018 conference delegates and will run on the afternoon before the conference in Melbourne and in Rotorua.

Full details on WoodFlow 2018 series can be found on the event website, www.woodflow.events

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