On November 18, 2021, a milestone was reached in Remote Timber, a Swedish joint industry-academia research project that aims to utilize 5G technology to operate timber terminals remotely. A remote-controlled timber loader was demonstrated under live conditions at SCA’s Torsboda timber terminal outside Timrå, north of Sweden.
The tests are part of the research project in which Mid Sweden University is collaborating with SCA, Volvo Construction Equipment, Telia, Biometria, and Skogforsk. The research project is financed by the participating parties and by the Swedish Innovation Agency, VINNOVA’s vehicle strategic research and innovation (FFI) program.
The aim of the research project is to examine how new technology such as 5G could enable the hundreds of timber terminals across Sweden to be manned with remote-controlled timber loaders in the future. The tests completed this week have shown that the technology works and that it is possible to operate timber loaders and load and unload timber by remote control, said Mattias O’Nils, Head of STC Research Centre, Mid Sweden University.
The results of the testing week have been successful and demonstrated that the new technology can enable remote-controlled terminals, and in doing so, make timber loading more efficient and provide operators with a safer and more conducive work environment, eliminating vibrations from machines, noise, and lone working.
This is an excellent project where we can assess how we can use 5G technology for remote control and the possibility of working remotely while connected. The project is entirely in line with SCA’s ambition to drive the trend toward more autonomous vehicles and improved operator support. This is also a key component of making forestry even more sustainable. Remote-controlled terminals can improve the work environment for operators, increase accessibility at the terminals and ensure efficient utilization of our machines, said Magnus Bergman, Head of Staff, Technology and Digitalization at SCA Forest.
Volvo CE has remodeled and equipped an L180 High-lift wheel loader with connected cameras and sensors that make it possible to remotely control the machine. All data is sent without delay using Telia’s 5G technology, which means that the operator has the same experience as if they were in the machine.
This is entirely critical for being able to carry out a remote control with precision and in a safe manner.
We can see that tele-operation has major future potential for our customers to improve their operations. For operations in hazardous environments, the operator can be relocated to a secure location with better working conditions. In cases where operations are conducted in several different locations, one operator can manage several terminals at the same time. The project provides an opportunity to test our remote-control platform in a new application with high precision requirements and to learn how the system needs to be designed to meet industry needs, said Christian Spjutare, Advanced Engineering Program Manager at Volvo CE.