The measurement of solid volume is becoming increasingly critical in the wood trading in the forestry industry for two main reasons. First, because it provides a better approximation of estimating the actual amount of fiber, which is crucial to produce products where fiber is the raw material. Second, during a climate crisis, the measurement of solid volume is a variable that contributes to the efficient use of resources.
There are different methodologies for estimating the wood fiber volume, which can be divided into two main groups: those that use manual techniques and those that use technologies capable of providing information with high levels of precision and operational efficiency.
Types of Methods
Among those that use manual techniques to estimate wood solid volume are:
- Manual scaling of the load: the solid volume is obtained from the stereo volume of the load, to which a conversion factor is applied.
- Manual log by log scaling: the volume is obtained through manual and individual scaling of each wood log, requiring significant human intervention and effort.
The most used methods that use technologies are:
- The weighbridge: the solid volume is obtained by calculating the weight of the wood and applying a conversion factor to the obtained weight. Disadvantages include the complexity of managing moisture variability, drying time, characteristics of different species, and climate. These factors could impact the weight by up to 20%.
- Archimedes method. Although it is the most theoretically accurate method for measuring solid volume, it requires significant effort to set up and manage water pits and machinery for transporting the load. Due to the time and effort involved, it is typically considered for sampling, reducing operational efficiency.
- Image analysis. An estimation of solid volume is obtained by analyzing images and using a conversion factor. Factors that influence the results include photo quality, object characteristics, and environmental conditions that may affect visibility, all which impact precision.
- Scanner-based systems or trained scanner machinery. The solid volume is obtained through analysis of precise and detailed information about load contours and logs characteristics, allowing for high precision and operational efficiency.
With over 15 years of experience, Woodtech offers its clients the solid volume estimation system LOGMETER. It has a series of sensors capable of measuring wood volume in real time, with an average error of less than 2% and standard deviations lower than 7%. In less than two minutes, LOGMETER captures the wood load on a truck and delivers relevant information online for each client. Unlike other methods, LOGMETER makes relevant variables for the operation visible and allows buyers to make informed decisions at the time of the transaction.
Four key features of LOGMETER:
- Automatic measurement system. It works without human intervention, ensuring objective and reproducible measurements.
- Fair transactions with wood suppliers. It provides evidence of all incoming log loads in real time at the entrance of the mill.
- Operational efficiencies. It reduces waiting time for trucks before the weighbridge. It requires a limited space for truck waiting areas and reduces roll-out inspections.
- Enhances online feedback to suppliers regarding poor logs quality. It allows for reliable production forecasting and management reports, along with better productivity analysis based on wood logs information. It enables comprehensive wood monitoring.
LOGMETER IN FORICO
Since 2018, LOGMETER has been present in Forico’s operations in Tasmania, allowing their new development strategy where sustainability plays a significant role. As part of this process, the company identified critical points in its supply chain. In this context, the company incorporated wood volume measurement through LOGMETER. Additionally, it streamlined the wood drying process within the same operation, so that trucks left loaded to the mill with dry wood.
In addition to the direct benefits of LOGMETER, the automation of this process indirectly allowed them to optimize payload in trucks, to reduce travels on road networks, resulting in reduced fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) for the same amount of volume transported.