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Volume 41 No. 1

A Three-Step Neural Network Artificial Intelligence Modeling Approach for Time, Productivity and Costs Prediction: A Case Study in Italian Forestry

volume: 41, issue: 1

The improvement of harvesting methodologies plays an important role in the optimization of wood production in a context of sustainable forest management. Different harvesting methods can be applied according to forest site-specific condition and the appropriate mechanization level depends on a number of factors. Therefore, efficiency and functionality of wood harvesting operations depend on several factors. The aim of this study is to analyze how the different harvesting processes affect operational costs and labor productivity in typical small-scale Italian harvesting companies. A multiple linear regression model (MLR) and artificial neural network (ANN) have been carried out to predict gross time, productivity and costs estimation in a series of qualitative and quantitative variables. The results have created a correct statistical model able to accurately estimate the technical parameters (work time and productivity) and economic parameters (costs per unit of product and per hectare) useful to the forestry entrepreneur to predict the results of the work in advance, considering only the values detectable of some characteristic elements of the worksite.

Recycled Asphalt as an Alternative to Natural Aggregates for Forest Road Reinforcement

volume: 41, issue: 1

The objective of the present paper is to confirm or reject the possible use of recycled asphalt to reinforce forest haul roads regarding the technical requirements set by the standards and directives relevant to the construction of forest road surfaces. The hypothesis is based on the presumption that recycled materials, if correctly used, can reach the same construction properties as standard materials, hence their application does not have a negative effect on reinforcement quality. On a selected stretch of forest road, three test sections were constructed with the use of recycled asphalt, however, each of them with a different technological solution. The first section was reinforced with unbound mixture – Type1 without added water, the second section was constructed using a version of vibrated macadam technology, and recycled asphalt was applied to the third section by the method of basic compacting. In each of the sections, tacheometric cross profile measurement was carried out at monthly intervals to monitor the changes in the cross profile shape, and the number of passages of fully loaded logging trucks was registered; static load tests were performed at pre-defined time intervals to determine the deformation moduli such as deformation characteristics of the road surface structural layers. In all three reinforcement versions, the values of deformation moduli observed during the static load tests were between 68–90% of the values set by relevant standards for these technologies using natural aggregates. However, the tacheometric measurements did not reveal statistically significant changes in the shape of the reinforcement cross-section. Based on the obtained results, applying recycled asphalt to reinforce forest roads seems to be a suitable alternative to natural quarry aggregate used in unbound structural layers. Recycled material needs to meet the regulatory limits for foreign elements and pass ecotoxicity tests, which is evidenced by a certificate on material compliance issued by the test laboratory.

Recovery of Forest Soil Chemical Properties Following Soil Rehabilitation Treatments: an Assessment Six Years after Machine Impact

volume: 41, issue: 1

Several rehabilitation treatments have been applied to mitigate runoff and sediment in machine trafficked areas following logging operations, while the knowledge on the consequence of these remediation techniques on the recovery of soil properties remains scarce. The objective of the study was to determine the effect of different rehabilitation treatments including sawdust mulch (SM), water diversion structure (WDS), untreated/bare trail (U), and undisturbed or control area (UND) on the recovery of soil chemical properties over a six-year period after machine-induced compaction occurred on three longitudinal trail gradients (10, 20, and 30 %).In each treatment, the following soil properties were measured: litter thickness, pH, EC, soil organic C, total N, and available P, K, Ca, and Mg. Five sampling plots (with 10 m length and 4 m width) were positioned in each trail gradient classes and three of these plots were randomly considered for soil sampling.The results demonstrate that litter thickness differed among the three treatments, with the highest amount present on the UND area and lowest on the U treatment. Meanwhile, the highest pH (6.75), EC (0.21 Ds m−1), N (0.27 %), available P (14.61 mg kg−1), available K (123.5 mg kg−1), available Ca (135.1 mg kg−1), and available Mg (42.1 mg kg−1) and the lowest C (1.21 %) and C/N ratio (7.83 %) were found on the SM with gradient of 10 % compared to other gradient classes on SM, WDS and, U treatments. The recovery value of litter depth, pH, EC, C, N, C/N ratio, and available nutrients (P, K, Ca, and Mg) were higher on the SM than the WDS at the gradient of 10 %, while significantly higher levels of these variables were measured under WDS installed on trail gradients of 30 % and 20 % when compared with the same gradients on SM. Results of the study revealed that soil chemical properties showed some evidence of recovery following SM and WDS rehabilitation treatments compared to U, although these properties did not fully recover within 6 years as compared to UND area

Simulation Studies on Line Intersect Sampling of Residues Left After Cut-to-Length Logging

volume: 41, issue: 1

Upon carrying out logging, residues remain in the cutting area. Logging residues are an additional source of wood raw material for the production of fuel chips to be used in bioenergetics. In order to plan the logging residues collection and processing technology, it is necessary to gather information on the amount of this type of waste and its distribution within the cutting area.

The article deals with the line intersect (LIS) method.

The aim of this article was to assess the accuracy of the LIS method for quantifying logging residues after cut-to-length logging (CTL), uniformly distributed within the technology traffic lanes (strips) of width b on the cutting area of arbitrary shape S.

The studies were conducted using computer simulations. In the models, logging residues are represented as clusters in the form of circles. The laws of distribution of the radius of the clusters and their position in the plot were determined by field measurements.

In the simulations, clusters uniformly distributed along the X-axis and stripes on the Y-axis were considered. The samples of lines were the set of lines of different length and mutually perpendicular and parallel to the coordinate axes X, Y.

In the simulations, four types of stripes were considered with a different angle to the Y-axis. Type 1 – angle = 0°, type 2 – angle = 15°, type 3 angle = 30°, type 4 – angle = 45°.

It was determined through simulation that the estimated mean radius of the clusters is greater by 24% than the true mean radius.

The LIS method formula is appropriate for estimating the amount of forest residues after CTL logging provided the true mean radius is taken. According to the results of simulation experiments, it was found that the results are in good agreement with the theoretical formulas if the location of the sample lines is mutually perpendicular and parallel to the coordinate axes X, Y of the area. Differences remain within the limits of 20% error

Applying Theory of Constraints to Timber Harvesting: A Case Study from the Northeast USA

volume: 41, issue: 1

Logging firms are a critical link in wood supply chains, connecting forest landowners with markets for wood products. Improving operational planning can benefit individual logging firms as well as the larger wood supply chain in which they operate. Applying concepts from Theory of Constraints (TOC) to timber harvesting may help achieve greater predictability and efficiency when planning harvest operations. However, examples that demonstrate how TOC can improve logging operations are lacking. This study focuses on the analysis of production and activity data collected during the harvest of a temperate mixed hardwood forest in the Northeast United States using a chainsaw-forwarder system through a TOC lens. Specifically, the drum-buffer-rope (DBR) method was used to reschedule operator and machine activities such that a consistent flow of wood from stump to landing was maintained despite anticipated production setbacks. The results of this case study provide insights into the usefulness of applying TOC to logging operations. In particular, logging businesses must be able to estimate machine and operator productivity within a given harvest context to identify and exploit system constraints, while taking full advantage of unused capacity of any non-constraint functions

Reengineering the Romanian Timber Supply Chain from a Process Management Perspective

volume: 41, issue: 1

Implementation of process management in the forest supply chains has a great potential for organizational and managerial improvement, at least by resource saving. Nevertheless, techniques of process management have been scarcely used to improve the forest supply chains in many parts of the world. In this study, for both Romanian state and private forests, the processes of the timber supply chain – from the harvest site to the forest-based industry plant – are mapped and analyzed. The main objectives of this work were to identify process optimization potentials and to redesign processes in order to improve the performance of the Romanian timber supply chain. Results show that particularly inter-organizational processes offer great saving potentials, mainly due to the existing multi-level hierarchy and multi-level control obligations. Therefore, introducing a web-based platform to enhance a collaborative workflow can considerably decrease the time needed for providing harvest sites or logs to customers via auctions. Further process optimization can be reached by the empowerment of lower level hierarchies facilitating the reduction of hierarchy levels of involved state organizations

Productivity in Mechanizing Early Tending in Spruce Seedling Stands

volume: 41, issue: 1

According to National Forest Inventory data, there is an urgent need for tending seedling stands of at least 700,000 ha and a need for 1 million ha in the next few years in Finland. The motivation for forest owners to conduct pre-commercial silvicultural operations is low due to the associated high costs. Especially the costs of tending and clearing operations after the regeneration of the stand have been increasing. In addition, the availability of labor is a restricting factor due to the high seasonality of silvicultural works.

In the 2000s, several solutions for the mechanization of tending have been proposed. These are based on the use of harvester or a forwarder as a base machine. Typically, light weight base machines are favored to reduce the hourly cost of operations and the impacts on the remaining seedlings. There have been challenges with the high speed of the cutting device, which increases the risk of damages to the head and the ignition of forest fires when the circular saw or chain hits stones, for example. In addition, the chain can become dislocated due to bending forces caused by stumps.

Cutlink has presented a low RPM solution based on rotating cone-shaped shears that cut 50–100 cm wide corridors between and around seedlings. In this study, the productivity of mechanized tending with Cutlink´s device compared to manual tending was evaluated in spruce seedling stands in central Finland. The productivity, fuel consumption and quality of the seedling stand after the operation were measured. In early tending, the productivity of motor manual tending was notably better than when using the Cutlink device. Crucial factors for the competitiveness of a mechanized alternative include the annual working hours and finding suitable working areas for the machine. Additional work for the device and base machine can also be found in the clearing of forest road sides

Assessment of Costs in Harvesting Systems Using WoodChainManager Web-based Tool

volume: 41, issue: 1

The rationalization of working procedures during difficult market conditions is gaining increasing importance. For rational production, it is necessary to always be aware of what and how much to invest in the business process to obtain the desired products or services without economic loss. This article presents a tool for the assessment of costs in forest wood supply chains. WoodChainManager is a Web-based tool composed of three user modules intended for the assessment of material costs of individual machines or the total costs of all selected machines in a forest harvesting system. Users can test the impact of individual technologies on the total material costs of the harvesting system and thus optimize operation processes. The basic tool for describing harvesting systems is the matrix, which visualizes cutting and hauling from the standing tree in the stand to the forest products at the end user. The tool has built-in algorithms that prevent the selection of an illogical harvesting system. The selected method for calculating costs for individual machines is simple, but still reflects the state of the actually incurred costs. WoodChainManager offers cost calculations for a wide range of technologies, machines and appurtenant attachments. The authors of this paper wish to increase awareness and understanding of cost calculations and to offer the possibility to directly compare different harvesting systems

Improving Economic Management Decisions in Forestry with the SorSim Assortment Model

volume: 41, issue: 1

The sustainable supply of timber is one of the most important forest ecosystem services and a decisive factor determining the long-term profitability of forest enterprises. If timber production is to be economically viable, there must always be a way to analyse forest stands and trees felled for exploitation with regard to the wood assortments they contain. Only then can the expected timber yields, achieved by various silvicultural strategies or actions and different sorting options, be quantified with sufficient accuracy. The SorSim assortment simulator was developed for forest practitioners and forest scientists in Switzerland to realistically simulate the sorting of individual trees and entire forest stands based on defined specifications. SorSim has a simple user interface and comes in a number of different language versions (G, E, F). The software is implemented in Java, making it platform-independent. It can be downloaded for free at (https://www.wsl.ch/en/projects/sortimentsimulator-sorsim.html). This article provides an overview of how the simulator works and demonstrates its potential applications based on a practical and a scientific example. A particular practical advantage is that the composition of the assortments of the planned harvests can be estimated according to quantity and value. When used in strategic planning and especially in research, SorSim provides a basis for analysing either long-term developments in yields from forest stands or silvicultural treatment methods. Based on an even-aged and a selection forest stand, the scientific example shows how strongly the assessment of the advantageousness of two different silvicultural strategies depends on the time when the calculation was made (using historical and current assortment revenues and timber harvesting costs). In particular, the combination of SorSim with timber harvest productivity models enables differentiated forest economic insights. Various approaches for value-based optimisation in the sorting of individual trees and for the optimal allocation of harvesting activities to defined customer demands are currently being examined as further SorSim developments.

Monitoring the Quality and Quantity of Beechwood from Tree to Sawmill Product

volume: 41, issue: 1

The analysis evaluates the potential and methods of the respective assessment of beech trees, beech logs and sawn timber. The objective of the study was to assess the impact of the quality of the incoming raw material (tree) on the quality and quantity of products – obtained at the sawmill. The study presents a model that indicates the relations between the assessment of the quality of a standing beech tree and the quality of the sawmill products obtained from its wood. In addition, relations between individual quality classes of sawlogs, pulpwood, energy wood and sawn timber are shown. Standing trees were assessed in three sites according to the national 5-grade quality scale, assortments produced from selected trees pursuant to the EN 1316-1 standard, and sawn timber produced from assortments according to the rules of the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry (EOS). In total, 87.04 m3 of timber was harvested. In higher quality trees (quality 1 and 2), the shares of sawlogs were between 53% and 72% of gross tree volume, but in the poorest quality trees, the shares were only between 23% and 36%. What remained was pulp and energy wood. In trees of excellent quality (quality 1), sawlogs of the highest quality prevailed (A and B quality grade), while sawlogs of C and B quality prevailed in trees of lower quality. Covered knots and heart defects were typically the decisive criteria for classifying sawlogs quality in all three sites. A total of 30,786 m3 of unedged timber was sawn from the sawlogs, which comprised 35% of the total gross quantity of trees on average. Nine percent of the sawn timber was classified into the A–EOS class (top quality), 27% into the B–EOS class and 47% into the C–EOS class. Seventeen percent of the timber was only suitable for post-processing. The crucial criteria for classifying sawn timber were as follows: dead and rotten knots, heart, curvature and cracks. Above-average sawlogs (A and B quality grade) was mainly obtained from trees of better quality. Relations between the quality of trees, sawlogs and sawn timber indicated the suitability of classifying standing trees and sawlogs, since it was possible to produce sawn timber of higher quality from quality trees or logs. The model presents a rare attempt to establish and monitor quality and quantity from standing tree to end product.

Time Consumption Analysis of Forwarder Activities in Thinning

volume: 41, issue: 1

Forwarding can be divided into separate work elements. These are affected by several factors: forwarding distance, load volume, and types of assortments harvested. For a detailed planning of thinning, productivity models should include these factors. This study analysed the time consumption of forwarder thinning operations in five pine plantations in the north-east of Argentina, determining how the log size and log concentration affect each work element. Time-and-motion studies were carried out, recording the activities with digital video cameras, and tracking the forwarder movements with global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receivers. Different linear mixed models were fitted to estimate the time consumption of each work element in relation to different predictive factors. When driving on the road, the forwarders had an average speed of 71.6 m min-1 empty and 75.7 m min-1 loaded. When driving in the stand, the average speed was 56.9 m min-1 empty and 52.2 m min-1 loaded. These speeds did not correlate with the forwarder size or load volume. For the loading and unloading elements, the linear mixed model explained 56% and 49% of the variability considering only the fixed effect of the logs size and the load volume. For driving while loading, the total volume loaded, and the log concentration of the assortment loaded explained 50% of the time consumption variability, with 17% being explained by random effects. The general time and productivity model developed can be applied to support accurate decisions in the process of thinning planning.

Bimanual Motor Skill in Recruitment of Forest Harvest Machine Operators

volume: 41, issue: 1

The great complexity of the operation of wood harvesting machines and unpredictable differences of performance between operators must be reflected in the industry recruitment techniques. This work aimed to carry out an evaluation of the bimanual motor skill in candidates for the position of harvester operators using a virtual reality simulator to generate information that can contribute to and improve the selection process. The work was developed at the Forest Operators Training Center (CENFOR), at the State University of the Center–West, in Irati, PR. A sample of 12 individuals was studied and distributed into three levels of performance. The motor ability of the individuals was evaluated through the variables: »run time«, »fall direction«, and »cutting height«, assessed at different points during a 4-hour practice – 0.5; 1.0; 1.5; 2.0; 3.0 and 4.0 hours – practice in a virtual harvester simulator. The data were analyzed by variance and means, as well as compared to a Tukey test at the 5% level of significance. The individuals had a significant difference in the variables »run time« and »cutting height«, and could be accurately used to predict bimanual motor skill/performance. There was a significant gain in the performance of the operators up to 1.5 hours after the beginning of the skill test, and all those who demonstrated greater and lesser ability in the first half hour of the test maintained this behavior until the end of the training period. The virtual reality simulator can be used as a tool to assess bimanual motor skills during the selection of harvester operators.

Manipulating Chain Type and Flail Drum Speed for Better Fibre Recovery in Chain-Flail Delimber-Debarker-Chipper Operations

volume: 41, issue: 1

A chain-flail delimber-debarker-chipper (CFDDC) was adapted for treating smaller trees than normal by replacing the standard flails with lighter ones, and by reducing flail drum rotation speed. The machine produced 16 full containers (24 t each) for the standard configuration and 24 full containers for the innovative one. For each container the researchers measured: original tree mass, chip mass, time consumption and fuel use. Results indicated that the innovative setting accrued a 12% improvement on fiber recovery compared with the standard setting (control). At the same time, productivity increased by 20% and fuel consumption was reduced by 30%. Product quality was largely unaffected, with bark content remaining below the 1% threshold specification. If at all, product quality was improved through the reduction of fine particles, possibly derived from less diffused fraying. These results have triggered the real scale adoption of the new setting by contractors who participated in the study. The success of the innovative treatment is likely explained by its better alignment with the weaker structure of small trees from low-yielding stands.

Influence of Cutting Attachment on Noise Level Emitted by Brush Cutter during Tending of Young Forests

volume: 41, issue: 1

A brush cutter is the most frequently used equipment for tending young forests. When cutting unwanted vegetation, the operator is exposed to various harmful factors, such as: a forced body position, noise, vibrations and exhaust emissions. In this study, the impact of cutting attachment type on the noise level during tending of young pine stands was examined. The attachments used during the tests included: a wire head and cutting blades with 2, 3 and 24 cutting teeth. The research was carried out on 2–3 year old Scots pine plantations covered with three types of vegetation: herbaceous, mixed and woody. It was proven that the the wire head was the device that generated the highest level of noise. In the case of cutting blades, the number of cutting teeth was the important factor. The greater the number of teeth in the cutting blades, the lower the noise level the device produced. There was no significant influence of vegetation type on noise emission level. Based on the results, in order to minimize operators’ exposure to noise, the use of wire cutting attachment should be limited.

Modelling of Work Efficiency in Cable Traction with Tractor Implementing the Least-Squares Methods and Robust Regression

volume: 41, issue: 1

Wood-harvesting activities are conducted by contractors through tendering based on prices determined by the amount of transported wood, land conditions and transport method parameters. Managers should determine the average completion time of the work and the base price accurately to prevent both work and contractor losses prior to the tender and note the same in the tender contract. Thus, prediction of productivity in wood production is of great importance in the determination of the work duration and cost. In this context, the aim of the present study was to determine the most accurate estimation model that would predict productivity (Pe) based on log volume (Vt), route slope (P) and winching distance (D) in uphill cable skidding activities with a drum tractor. In the current study, estimation models were developed that use both linear regression through SPSS employing all data and the robust regression method that minimizes the effect of outliers. Harvesting units were selected among pure spruce (Picea orientalis (L.) Link) stands via the uphill cable-skidding method with a tractor in the North-East of Turkey. Route slope, winching distance, log volume and time-consumption data were collected in the chosen harvesting units and productivity prediction models were developed with these data. In this study, the productivity estimation was performed using linear regression in SPSS and robust regression methods prepared in MATLAB environment. The coefficients calculated by these methods were statistically tested, and it was determined that the winching distance coefficient was insignificant with both methods. Thus, the productivity estimation model was re-determined with both methods based on the slope and log volume parameters, and the findings were compared. Additionally, the standard errors of the coefficients of both models were compared and it was concluded that the robust method was more sensitive than the SPSS regression method.

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Web of Science Impact factor (2018): 2.258
Five-years impact factor: 2.197

Quartile: Q1 - Forestry

Subject area

Agricultural and Biological Sciences

Category/Quartile

Forestry/Q1