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The Log - Issue four - News from Canada and Sweden

In June 2009, Research Fellow Martin Strandgard visited FPInnovations and Corner Brook Pulp and Paper in Canada, and Skogforsk and the Elmia Wood trade fair in Sweden.


FPInnovations (formerly Feric) have demonstrated significant gains in harvest machine performance through the use of Multidat data loggers. They are working on the successor to the Multidat—the FPDat. It combines the features of the Multidat with better communications and a user-friendly touch screen that displays the machine’s location. FPDat is part of the FPSuite system that will be used to improve the whole harvesting and transport supply chain. Program Three intends to trial FPDat in 2010.

Deon Hamlyn at Corner Brook Pulp and Paper showed Martin two of his innovations in monitoring and improving harvest machine performance. Deon has combined Garmin GPS units with Multidats on each harvest machine to show operators their location within the coupe, which has proved particularly useful on the night shift. Deon has also set up a centralised system that automatically collects and processes the Multidat data into standard reports that contractors can access via a website. Aspects of these ideas are to be implemented in a current Program Three project.


Discussions at Skogforsk centred around improving harvester measurement accuracy, in particular implementing an improved radiata pine bark function on harvesters. Accurate bark thickness estimation is an important component of accurate underbark volume estimation and is essential to optimisation. A new bark function would need approval by the StanForD committee which is facilitated by Skogforsk. The key to getting a new radiata pine bark function approved by the committee is to garner support from as large a group of radiata pine growers as possible. Martin will be approaching major growers in Australia and overseas with this intention.

Elmia WoodElmia Wood trade fair, with over 45 000 visitors and 500 exhibitors on a 150 hectare site, is the largest forestry trade fair in the world and is held in Sweden every four years.

Bioenergy and small-scale forestry equipment were well-represented at Elmia Wood in 2009. Sweden is a world leader in bioenergy, which supplies over 25% of its energy needs. Bioenergy equipment on display ranged from small-scale machines capable of harvesting and transporting a handful of logs to industrial-scale slash bundlers. With Australia poised to become a major wood pellet exporter, this is a research area that will be targeted by Program Three.

The number of small-scale forestry equipment suppliers reflects the dominance of small growers in Scandinavia. Much of the equipment would have limited appeal in Australia with our dominance of government and industrial forest growers. The small-scale equipment with the greatest potential for Australian use were those machines using a tractor as the power source as they have the potential to be used in woodlots and as a cheap alternative for roadside processing of eucalypt pulp-logs.

The most exciting industrial-scale equipment development was the commercial release of the ‘Besten’ (or ‘Beast’). The Beast is an unmanned harvester controlled from a forwarder. It works in tandem with two forwarders—directly loading onto their bays in turn. Studies by Skogforsk suggest it is competitive with conventional harvester/forwarder systems in areas with small piece sizes and short forwarding distances.

John Deere released an updated version of their TimberLink system to monitor operator performance. TimberLink has the potential to analyse operator performance in unprecedented detail and to identify areas for improvement. The downside is that it is only available on their latest equipment.

Most new equipment on show at Elmia Wood promised improved fuel efficiency, but the stand-out performer in this area was the ‘El-forest’—an electric-diesel forwarder which promises to reduce fuel use by up to 50%. Forwarding is an excellent area for hybrid vehicles as they are at their best in stop/start conditions. Program Three is currently investigating a hybrid short-haul truck for infield use.

Martin Strandgard

Research Fellow
Tel: 03 9250 6872