Harvest Nav now comes fully packaged
ASYSTEM THAT DETAILS ALL THE INFORMATION AND hazards on a harvesting site is now even easier to make use of. Harvest Nav is the brainchild of forestry consultant, Dr Hamish Marshall, from Margules Groome and it’s been in limited use with some contractors in New Zealand for around three years. But a full update has now been launched and it’s expected to become more widely used.
Hamish explains: “The idea behind Harvest Nav was to take all the spatial information that we have sitting in the offices, like digital terrain models and harvest plans and the boundaries that we diligently mark in, and lump it altogether into a single package.
“Traditionally we would print this stuff out on a map and send it out to the harvest crew that they would have sitting in the smoko shed. We asked ourselves ‘why can’t we take all that information in a digital form and put it on the machines for the guy who is actually going to be using it’.
“It was originall designed for the tethered machines because we are putting these people down these steep slopes and we’re providing them with tension stuff, but we’re not actually providing any information about the surrounding areas and what sort of hazards there are.”
Together with a computer programmer, Hamish put together the basis for the Harvest Nav software, which could then be loaded onto any laptop or tablet and be available to the machine operator. Using GPS, a digital terrain model based on LIDAR data, it shows detailed harvest area boundaries, slope, water courses, restricted areas etc.
Harvest Nav allows the machine operator to track its exact location in the harvest block and see the nature of the terrain ahead in real time.
Hamish says it worked worked exceptionally well with crews that have used it, but the big issue has been hardware.
“The problem with consumer-based electronics is that they are constantly changing, so you have a system and people get used to it and then when the contractor goes back to get another one for another machine they’re told ‘sorry we don’t sell that model any more’ and they have to get something different and re-learn the experience.
“So we decided to see if we could do an ‘out-of-the-box’ package that includes the software already loaded onto a Windows-based tablet, complete with mounting bracket that can be easily installed, effectively making it a plug-and-play system.”
Hamish says the finishing touches are currently being put on the new Harvest Nav package and he expects it will retail for between $1000 and $1500 when it comes to market in the next few months.
Dr Hamish Marshall and the newly re-packaged HarvestNav system.