Programme Start: 1 January 2019
Length: 7 years
PGP Funding: $12.2 million
Industry Funding: $17.2 million
Crown funding paid out to the programme for work done to 30 September 2021: $2.2 million
Commercial partner: Forest Growers Research Limited
Estimated potential economic benefit to NZ: The goal is to deliver operational cost savings of $27.5 million per annum by 2025, increasing to $76.8 million per annum by 2031. These savings would be realised through improvements in labour productivity, harvesting efficiencies, and environmental improvements. Machinery sales are forecast to return a gross margin of $4.9 million per annum by 2025, increasing to $23.3 million per annum by 2031.
Forestry Work in the Modern Age aims to create value, improve profitability, and enhance sustainability across the forestry value chain through automation.
The programme's vision is "No boots on the ground, no hands on the log".
The forestry sector faces some major challenges. These challenges are inter-related. The programme aims to help industry overcome these and to capture associated opportunities. The challenges are:
- Labour shortages: New Zealand’s increased harvest will require around 100 extra contracting crews and 700 additional workers in both harvesting and log transport from current levels (a 20% increase).
- Rising costs: Research indicates that increased harvesting costs of $10 a cubic metre could result in 9% to 11% more of the small forest resource becoming uneconomic to harvest.
- Social licence: Threatened due to the industry’s poor safety record and environmental impact, making the sector less attractive for employment.
- Law changes:g., when recapture of chemical log fumigants (methyl bromide) becomes a requirement, it could double the cost of export log fumigation.
- Constraints on harvesting system productivity: While the earlier PGP Steepland Harvesting Programme has achieved increased felling and extraction productivity, the current harvest process is bottlenecked at the log landing by productivity constraints in the log sorting function.
- Environmental issues: Log landing bottle necking drives larger log landings causing more earthworks and higher sediment and wood residue run-off during heavy rain.
The programme has 3 interrelated work streams.
Work stream 1: New automated technology
Develop new forest harvesting and logistics products – from design through to prototype development and testing. These new products will eliminate hazardous manual tasks and teleoperate some functions, such as truck loading, to make tasks safer. They will automate functions such as log sorting, log tagging, residue chipping and load securing, to make jobs quicker and less repetitive.
The new system will:
- incorporate semi-automation into other functions to make tasks easier and more efficient
- provide a solution for reducing log wastage
- improve log sorting, handling, and loading processes at the sort yard.
Work stream 2: Human factors of forestry automation
Identify the skills and knowledge required to operate the new machines and develop training and operating procedures and establish associated qualifications.
Work stream 3: Commercialisation and deployment
Promote new technologies and their benefits across the sector. Assist with business development for the manufacturing partners and deployment of the new systems and processes.
Forestry automation and robotics [PDF, 617 KB]
Outcome logic model [PDF, 362 KB]