Changing the industry one log at a time

In an effort to make the forestry sector more profitable, efficient and transparent, an innovative mobile-device-based solution is providing accurate measurement of timber in a variety of settings.

The supply chain from forest to merchant is a complex one. One forest-tech company has been working hard to improve that chain for both log buyers and sellers and is doing it using specialist digital software and a pioneering algorithm.  This collected digital data on timber – from logs to containerised shipments  can be used for management of the entire supply chain. All the required data (volume, number of logs, log diameters, location) are available in digital form, reducing human error and enabling quick reporting and data processing.

Timbeter was created by a sawmill owner who was facing the problem of measuring logs manually every day and thought that if smartphones could recognise human faces, they could also recognise logs from a photo. “The idea for Timbeter came during a 48-hour hackathon that really helped us to look at the problem from a different angle and question the traditional methods and habits of the forestry sector,” says Martin Kambla, co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer. “It is a digital timber measurement solution that uses machine learning technology and artificial intelligence for accurate log detection.”

How is it done? A simple photo taken using the dedicated Timbeter app of the timber, whether in a pile, on a truck or in a container can be analysed. This provides a wealth of accurate and reliable information for anyone dealing with timber log measurement from forest owners, sawmills to manufacturers and transport companies. Only an Android or iOS smart device (mobile phone or tablet) is required to run the software and it can run on any computer or browser.

Each pile of logs can be measured for pile density, log diameters, and the number of logs in minutes, to save the measurer time and obtain accurate data. Users can filter the diameters to see how many logs are in the specific range. Every pile is geo-tagged making the tracking of the timber’s origins easier.  This can also be used as a key step in maintaining forest chain of custody and combating illegal logging.

Every measurement is stored in the cloud providing a real-time overview of measurements related to their species and qualities and every pile can be re-measured in the web if required. Timbeter’s storage enables users to analyse and share your measurements quickly, view inventories, active storage statuses and create instant reports in a few taps of a button, aiding managers and accountants to remain informed and up-to-date.

Timbeter allows users to have a greater control over their measurements, as all the information can be easily audited and controlled. This digital data can then be shared between customers and business locations to create a totally transparent and easily understood flow of information.

The introduction of digital technology across the construction industry is having a profound effect globally. But the forestry and timber sectors have been seen as slow and reluctant to modernise and adopt new technology. “Technology is only one part of the adoption process,” adds Martin. “Precision forestry is still relatively new. The sector also tends to love heavy machinery and paper, so in that sense, adopting smart devices in their daily processes is a big change. What we have seen is that it really depends on the mindset of the people in a company and how willing they are to change old habits and procedures. There are still many opportunities for artificial intelligence (AI) to make a big impact in solving forestry’s big issues. For example, illegal logging, reducing the administrative burden related to reporting and control for both companies and governments, and to make sure each tree that has been cut in a sustainable way reaches its maximum value.”

For the merchant sector and timber supply chain the benefits are potentially massive. Smart and quick digital solutions that can be used by large manufacturers and small private forest owners, that is affordable and accessible for everyone, helps to increase transparency, secure fair trade and boost productivity levels.

For the complete feature read the Spring Issue of Timber Trader UK.

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