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World premiere for digitalising the forest’s entire raw material chain

What could well be a paradigm shift in the forest industry is being presented at this year’s SkogsElmia forestry tradeshow that takes place at the Bratteborg Estate, outside Jönköping, Sweden. Tracy of Sweden is launching a global innovation – the digitalisation of the entire forest raw material chain based on identifying each individual log.

Connecting the tracking dots in the wood value chain – using digital photography, mobile communication,
and big data, Tracy of Sweden is having a world premiere for digitalising the entire forest raw material chain
at SkogsElmia (photo courtesy Elmia).

Called “Tracy man”, the first version to be released is an app for Android phones that is used to photograph the butt end of the felled tree trunk. The growth rings, combined with the surface structure, bark and other defining characteristics, give each log a unique identity.

The photos are uploaded to the cloud for analysis and storage. To do this stage, Tracy of Sweden is collaborating with IBM. At the next stage, the same app is currently also used for recognition but industrial equipment is being developed.

We hope to be able to exhibit equipment for industrial woodyards at SkogsElmia, explained Jonny Edvardsson, who founded the company together with Jan Erik Rendahl.

40 percent more yield

The obvious benefit is reliable traceability all the way back to the stump, a service that is particularly in demand in countries with extensive illegal logging. But that’s just the first step. Edvardsson worked for many years as a log buyer for a veneer manufacturer.

The company developed an information system that monitored every log, where it had grown and so on. The collected data was analysed and the results used to guide the company’s purchases.

We increased the amount of saleable veneer by over 40 percent, from 850 to 1 150 square metres per purchased cubic metre, Edvardsson explained.

Recouping lost information

Much of the information which made that system possible currently disappears the second the harvester drops the log on the ground. Previously, there were no practical ways to analyse all the information that could have been collected but now the capacity exists in what is popularly called “big data”.

Tracy of Sweden is also working with equipment that is placed inside the harvester head and photographs every cut during the bucking process. Each individual log thereby automatically becomes an individual. Other information such as what the fibres look like can also be collected.

With big data, only the imagination limits how the information can be used and Edvardsson gives two examples.

Based on the data collected, we should be able to identify logs that we know will cause a production stoppage at the sawmill. Another possibility is to do sorting already in the forest so that tomorrow’s autonomous forwarders will place each log on the right pile, he said.

There are many more examples but they can all be summed up in the fact that Tracy of Sweden is having the world premiere for digitalising the entire forest raw material chain at SkogsElmia on June 6-8, 2019. The company is also nominated for the SkogsElmia Innovation Award.

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