A smart, energy-efficient log forwarder for the forestry sector
The heavy vehicles used in forestry operations could become more energy efficient and kinder to the environment, thanks to technical innovations being developed by the EU-funded Forwarder2020 project. The innovations could also boost the forestry industry's global competitiveness.
© Kletr #171039502, 2019 source: stock.adobe.com
Forwarders are used to pick up and transport logs out of forests, travelling long distances between felling points and timber depots. The project is making five improvements to their design.
The aim is to reduce fuel consumption by up to 30 % and impacts on the environment, while making logging more efficient and sustainable for operators. They also aim to improve comfort for the driver resulting in less fatigue the project says.
The project is developing five innovations as modular systems so customers can choose the features they need, reducing the cost of the vehicle depending on the modules selected.
The project, which ends in September 2019, has developed a hybrid hydraulic system for the crane so energy is saved. The time it takes to load and unload logs is also reduced, the project says.
An improved suspension also reduces fuel consumption, wheel loads and the impact on the terrain. It allows for faster off-road driving speeds and the impact rough terrain can have on drivers comfort and health.
A redesigned bogie axle carriage with three driven wheels instead of two distributes the weight of the vehicle more evenly reducing the impact on forestry soil and tree roots, and cutting rut depths by up to 50 %. The vehicle can also carry more on wetlands, the project team says.
Smart planning for efficient routes
Forwarder2020s new monitoring system provides data on vehicle and engine performance, along with loading information a means to improve energy and operating efficiency. Operators can use it to plan more efficient routes and document what kind of loads are carried on which tracks.
The project team is currently demonstrating the Forwarder2020 prototype at trade fairs and roadshows around Europe. One included a demonstration of the machines loading cycle and its functioning on wet soil in a Lithuanian forest.
A second prototype is under development and will include a suspended cabin and a hybrid transmission system. The first field test of the second prototype is scheduled for February 2019 in Saxony, Germany with additional testing scheduled for Romania by the end of April 2019.