Harvester Laser Scanning to assess timber quality

ByForest Machine Magazine

27th February 2024

It is now being tested whether harvester laser scanning can be used to assess the crookedness of the trees during felling – a decision support that would increase both resource efficiency and simplify the harvester operator’s work.

Sensors for laser scanning are becoming cheaper and can increase precision in forestry. By combining laser scanners and cameras, the bucking of the trees can be improved. The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden is now starting a project together with Komatsu Forest to develop sensor systems that can be used as decision support during harvesting. The project is testing how laser scanners, which are mounted on the harvester, can be used to measure the curvature of standing trees. This is important because harvester operators today have to make a manual assessment of bend, which is difficult and miscalculations often lead to downgrading of the timber when it is measured in the industry.

By creating 3D models of the forest before harvesting, advanced laser scanners can be used to measure the trees with high precision. This data is then compared with mobile laser scanners that are placed on the harvester to evaluate measurements. Personal mobile laser scanners can also be used to prepare the measurements. The goal is to create diameter and quality vectors for each tree and investigate how this data can be used to improve bucking through simulations.

The Forestry Research Institute of Sweden (Skogforsk) and the forest machine manufacturer Komatsu Forest are collaborating in the project, and the results will be communicated to a reference group from the forest industry. The methods that are developed can lead to increased value for both forest owners and sawmills. The project is funded by MISTRA Digital Forest, Åforsk, Norra Skog Research Foundation, Önnesjöstiftelsen and TräCentrum Norr.

See more about the project in the video above or on Youtube: Laser scanning from harvesters – a smart way to detect crooked trees during felling?


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