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Potentials of possible machine systems for directly loading logs in cut-to-length harvesting

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In conventional mechanized cut-to-length systems, a harvester fells and cuts trees into logs that are stored on the ground until a forwarder picks them up and carries them to landing sites. A proposed improvement is to place logs directly into the load spaces of transporting machines as they are cut. Such integrated loading could result in cost reductions, shorter lead times from stump to landing, and lower fuel consumption. However, it might also create waiting times for the machines involved, whereas multifunctional machines are likely to be expensive. Thus, it is important to analyze whether or not the advantages of any changes outweigh the disadvantages. The conventional system was compared with four potential systems, including two with autonomous forwarders, using discrete-event simulation with stochastic elements in which harvests of more than 1000 final felling stands (containing in total 1.6 million m3) were simulated 35 times per system. The results indicate that harwarders have substantial potential (less expensive on ≥80% of the volume and fuel consumption decreased by ≥18%) and may become competitive if key innovations are developed. Systems with cooperating machines have considerably less potential, limited to very specific stand conditions. The results conform with expected difficulties in integrating processing and transporting machines’ work in variable environments.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Computing Science, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden. 2: Department of Forest Resource Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-901 83 Umeå, Sweden.

Publication date: May 30, 2012

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  • Published since 1971, this monthly journal features articles, reviews, notes and commentaries on all aspects of forest science, including biometrics and mensuration, conservation, disturbance, ecology, economics, entomology, fire, genetics, management, operations, pathology, physiology, policy, remote sensing, social science, soil, silviculture, wildlife and wood science, contributed by internationally respected scientists. It also publishes special issues dedicated to a topic of current interest.
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