No peo­ple equals no harm – con­trac­tor

New Zealand Logger - - Safety Summit -

IF YOU DON’T HAVE PEO­PLE WORK­ING IN dan­ger­ous jobs you won’t harm them reck­ons Nel­son-based con­trac­tor, Dale Ew­ers.

So he is de­vel­op­ing har­vest­ing sys­tems that can be op­er­ated from the safety of an of­fice away from the for­est with the aim of keep­ing his peo­ple out of harms’ way.

Dale un­veiled his vi­sion of what a re­motely-op­er­ated har­vest­ing sys­tem could look like at the For­est In­dus­try Safety & Tech­nol­ogy 2018 con­fer­ence in Ro­torua last month.

It’s a vi­sion he and his teams at Moutere Log­ging and Fal­con Forestry Equip­ment have been work­ing on for the last few years, de­vel­op­ing ma­chines and sys­tems to be used in dan­ger­ous and chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ments, in­clud­ing the Fal­con Claw grap­ple car­riage that’s used in place of breaker-outs and Fal­con winch-as­sist to en­able fall­ing and bunch­ing of trees on steep ter­rain.

And they’re plan­ning on us­ing more tech­nol­ogy to fur­ther re­place peo­ple on the ground with ma­chines, and even­tu­ally take the peo­ple out of those ma­chines.

“At the end of the day, how can you hurt some­one if there is no one there?” says Dale.

It all started back in 2010 when Dale was look­ing at re­ports on in­jury in­ci­dents and tasked his peo­ple to come up with ideas to drive down the se­ri­ous harm trends.

The Fal­con Claw came first and with 42 now op­er­at­ing they’ve clocked up a col­lec­tive 200,000 op­er­a­tional hours with zero harm recorded. More than 55 Fal­con winch-as­sist sys­tems are also work­ing and have clocked up 260,000 harm-free hours, lead­ing to more than 84% of felling now be­ing done by ma­chines. That per­cent­age will in­crease as the newly de­vel­oped Fal­con Felling Car­riage en­ters ser­vice soon.

An­other devel­op­ment is the up­grad­ing of tow­ers and swing yarders with new tech­nol­ogy that will in­ter­face with other equip­ment and sys­tems in the har­vest­ing op­er­a­tion.

“You’ll be able to har­vest a tree and re­turn it to the land­ing with the push of one but­ton, tak­ing out all the com­plex part of har­vest­ing,” pre­dicts Dale, who says that GPS will also be har­nessed to en­sure the felling head re­turns to the same po­si­tion on the sky­line.

“We’re in the process of au­tomat­ing and in­te­grat­ing all our machin­ery. When we de­signed our winch-as­sist we had a vi­sion of how it would work with the rest of the equip­ment go­ing out years ahead and have it fully in­te­grated.

“Our goal is by 2025 to be log­ging from in­side an of­fice.”

And he says that with the one-but­ton process, it would be pos­si­ble for a sin­gle per­son to be con­trol­ling more than one har­vest­ing op­er­a­tion at a time from that of­fice.

There’s still a lit­tle way to get to that goal, but Dale says the next step is to re­fine the cur­rent har­vest­ing op­er­a­tion with the tech­nol­ogy that is now be­ing in­tro­duced so that the yarder, felling car­riage, pro­ces­sor/ loader are more in­te­grated and the num­ber of crew re­quired would drop down to two or three – they could even dou­ble-shift with five peo­ple.

To those who say this ap­proach is tak­ing jobs away from peo­ple, Dale says it’s hard enough get­ting new peo­ple into the in­dus­try and this way will make forestry more at­trac­tive to the next gen­er­a­tion.


By 2025, Moutere Log­ging work­ers could be sit­ting at one of th­ese sim­u­la­tors in a build­ing far away from the for­est, rather than in an ac­tual cab.

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