Smart decision support for harvesting is good for the environment and cuts costs

Using the new system for forwarding optimization, SCA’s site planners can develop smart proposals that help to transport the timber out of the forest in the most efficient manner possible. It is good for the environment, as it helps to avoid damage to the terrain, and also saves money.

Forwarding optimization is SCA’s program to help calculate the most efficient manner possible to transport timber out of the forest to the wood pile location alongside the road. It is very useful for site planners, timber purchasers and district managers who plan the final harvesting and thinning, regardless of whether it concerns SCA’s own land or is an assignment on behalf of a private forest owner.

“The decision support system offers suggestions for the main haulage route in the harvesting area that will be used to transport most of the timber. It shows how the forwarder can reach the wood pile location by using the most efficient route and with the least impact on the terrain,” explains Tomas Johansson at the Technology and Operational Development staff function.

The program calculates resistance. Factors such as wet soil and steep inclines produce strong resistance and the program suggests a main haulage route that offers the least possible resistance to reach the wood pile location.

“Planners are given suggestions for where to lay roads through the harvesting area and how far the timber must be driven. Moreover, the program shows whether the wood pile locations are large enough to hold all of the timber and if there are inclines that may cause problems. The program can help all planners to make similar assessments, which is a great help, particularly for inexperienced planners,” explains Tomas.

The program is an add-on to SkogsGIS and has been developed by the IT company Dianthus. The idea is that planners can begin work at the office in drawing up a logging plan. When forwarding optimization is run the program presents suggestions for main haulage routes. After this, site planning takes place in the field and checks are carried out to see whether the suggestions are correct or need to be adjusted.

“When site planning is completed, the program can calculate forwarding distances, inclines, show the capacity of the wood pile locations and whether additional wood pile locations may be needed. Since it is costly to drive timber across long distances in the forest, the program can help to reduce felling costs,” says Tomas.

Forwarding distance and inclines are also factors that impact SCA’s remuneration to contractors.

“Decision support provides us with objective values for both inclines and forwarding distance, which is useful when our production managers talk to their harvesting teams,” says Tomas.

Forwarding optimization is also an important element in SCA’s efforts to reduce driving damage in the forest through its use of the Gentle Effective Logging method (Sw: Skonsam Effektiv Drivning – SED).

“The program helps to identify where the most suitable roads should be located taking into account water and sensitive areas. In some cases the roads may become longer, but in return you can avoid places that may damage to the terrain. And if the site planner has marked a crossing, for example over a watercourse, the forwarding optimization takes this into consideration in its suggestion. This way the planner and the system work together to find the best solution,” says Tomas and continues:

“If we can transport the timber to the wood pile location as efficiently as possible we reduce fuel consumption and cause less damage to the terrain. This means forwarding optimization is good for the environment and contributes to sound finances.”

Maria Johansson is District Manager at Ångermanland Forest District and has used the support.

“I think it works well, even if there are some things that can be improved to make it even easier to use. The main advantages with the program are that it provides objective values for forwarding distances and inclines, which is particularly useful for production managers who discuss remuneration with contractors,” says Maria and continues:

“It takes a little longer as running the forwarding optimization is one extra task, but once you have found a way to use the support it is not a problem.”

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