Real-time data capture has proven its worth in the evolving mechanized harvesting cut-to-length (CTL) system, primarily found in Scandinavia. Traditionally, a chainsaw operator would fell trees and create logs on-site. These logs were then transported to the roadside using wheeled skidders or cable systems, involving risky tasks for operators dealing with potential runaway trunks and navigating debris. Decisions on log grades were made based on basic specifications and prices with minimal automation.
CTL technology now involves a fully mechanized system where a harvester fells trees and creates logs simultaneously. These logs are then transported to the roadside by a forwarder. This entire system relies on digital data, as cutting instructions are sent in real-time to the harvesters. Onboard computers equipped with sensors assess the trunk’s shape and quality, enabling optimization of log grades produced from each tree. Additionally, real-time data allows visualization of production data, machine productivity, fuel efficiency, and other performance indicators.
The benefits are twofold. First, it enhances operational safety and efficiency. Second, it empowers management with greater control, leading to an optimized supply chain, quicker value recovery, and improved planning for future crops. By collecting data on grade outturn from a specific site, informed decisions can be made regarding tree species to plant, suitable fertilization regimens, and the best harvesting time. In essence, it enables optimized decision-making through advanced analytics and insights.
LEO satellites' value-add to Forestry operations
With satellites in geostationary orbit, your satellite transceiver ‘talks’ to the same satellite all the time, and must have clear line-of-sight to it. That presents challenges if your device is on the move, or if your operation is in heavily wooded or mountainous areas. This is obviously a consideration, then, for Forestry operations.
A solution to this challenge is to look at a satellite network operator like Iridium, which employs a mesh of LEO satellites that can communicate with each other. Data is passed from one satellite to another until it reaches its final destination. That means you can use an omni-directional antenna that doesn’t need to be pointed towards a specific satellite; the signal will get picked up by whatever satellite is passing overhead, and passed on.
This dynamic network is particularly well-suited for mobile IoT applications and is perfect for heavy machinery or operations that frequently change locations, such as transitory logger camps in remote areas. The Iridium Certus 100 service, utilizing LEO satellites, can provide consistent connectivity even in very remote forest regions where conventional cellular or GEO satellite coverage might be limited or unavailable.