The effect of partial automation on the productivity and cost of a mobile tower yarder
Keywords:Logging, Efficiency, Harvesting, Operations
Integration of technology is commonplace in forestry equipment supporting higher levels of automation and efficiency. For technology adoption to be successful it must demonstrate improvement in productivity, cost–effectiveness or in human factors and ergonomics. Cable yarding lends itself to automation with repetitive machine movement along a fixed corridor, as established by the skyline. This study aimed at investigating the difference in productivity between the two possible settings (manual and automated) of a Valentini V850 yarder equipped with automatic path programming, with a Bergwald 3-t carriage and radio controlled chokers. The study took place in the northern Italian Alpine eastern region over a period of 8 days on two separate corridors, resulting in 280 measured cycles split between manual and automated. Results in terms of absolute numbers were very close for the two system options, but significant differences were found. For example, inhaul time was longer, but outhaul time shorter for the automated system. Productivity ranged from 8.2 to 13.3 m3 PMH-1, and cost from approximately 20 to 30 € m-3. The automated system did achieve a significantly higher productivity, but differences declined with extraction distance. When that was combined with the slightly higher cost for the automated system, the automated system was more cost-effective on extraction distances less than 200 m, and the manual system on longer distances.
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