During 2023, Metsä Group's contractors will have precision positioning devices installed on their harvesters, which will enable them to know the position of the harvester head tip to within a few centimetres.
"At the moment we know the position of the harvester head to within a few metres. The new technology we are now introducing will enable us to know the position of the logging machines and, above all, the position of harvester head that cuts the trees to within a few centimetres," says Hannu Alarautalahti, SVP, Production, Wood Trade and Forest services, Metsä Group.
GPS positioning has been used in forestry for a long time. New satellite positioning technology has made it possible to improve the accuracy of positioning. Komatsu Forest will be the first to launch precision positioning with an accuracy of a few centimetres.
"For several years we have been actively working with machine manufacturers to make precision positioning available," says Alarautalahti.
The use of precision tracking brings benefits to Metsä Group, contractors and forest owners alike.
For forest owners, the benefits are clear: the risk of logging on the wrong property due to inaccurate location information is further reduced significantly. A logging machine's crane can reach up to 11 metres from the machine and in between can be the boundary of the area to be felled, or at worst the boundary of the property. Unfortunately, the boundaries are still being crossed because property boundaries are not kept open.
Metsä Group's personnel saves time by not always having to go to the field to mark unclear property or logging area boundaries with flagging tape.
Logging machine operators' work is made more efficient when the driver does not have to leave the cabin to check where the boundary is and whether it is marked or not.
"Precision positioning together with Komatsu's MaxiVision system will assist and facilitate the driver's work. For example, the system can be configured to provide alerts on various issues such as boundaries, protection zones and other things to consider. The system can also be used to assist with forest certification needs, such as reminding you about saving trees, artificial trees, etc. Since the exact location of the harvester head is now known, it will also provide the exact location of the felled timber and the exact locations of the logs made, which information will be transferred to the truck tractor that collects the logs. This is particularly helpful in winter, when snow has settled on the logs that have already been made. In the future, accurate location information will be the basis for future innovations," comments Jari Nurminen, Managing Director of Komatsu Forest.
Metsä Group wants to provide forest owners with a superior customer experience, and precision positioning is one way of delivering this experience.
"Investments in precision positioning quickly pay for themselves in terms of increased efficient working time. We will require our contractors to introduce precision tracking both on new harvesters and on existing ones that can be retrofitted. Komatsu Forest is a pioneer in this, but I believe that other machine manufacturers will soon follow suit," says Alarautalahti.