Current issue: 54(2)
Crane work is the most time-consuming work element in forwarding. Hence, assist systems like boom-tip control are of interest. The first commercially available boom-tip control for forwarders was introduced in 2013. In this study we analysed whether replacing conventional boom control (CBC) with John Deere’s version of boom-tip control (named Intelligent Boom Control, IBC), increases crane-work productivity. We used data automatically gathered from 10 final-felling stands, covering typical logging conditions for southern, central and northern Sweden. Two John Deere 1510E and two John Deere 1910G forwarders were operated by seven experienced operators during the follow-up study, covering 1238 loads in total. A split-plot design was applied to isolate effects of the boom-control system being used (CBC, IBC). We found that using IBC for loading work (crane work and driving included) saved 5.2% of productive machine time compared to using CBC (p ≤ 0.05). The corresponding saving when using IBC for unloading work was 7.9% (p ≤ 0.05). Depending on geophysical factors, this corresponds to approximately 4% savings in productive machine time for forwarding as a whole, including pure transport (with and without load). Moreover, the study introduced in cut-to-length context a novel field-study design to collect a large follow-up dataset in the course of ordinary forwarding operations. We found the study design to be a cost-efficient way to combine the representativeness of conventional follow-up datasets with the ability to establish causal relationships. Establishment of causal relationships has traditionally been possible only through observational time studies or standardized experiments.
Recent developments in on-board technology have enabled automatic collection of follow-up data on forwarder work. The objective of this study was to exploit this possibility to obtain highly representative information on time consumption of specific work elements (including overlapping crane work and driving), with one load as unit of observation, for large forwarders in final felling operations. The data used were collected by the John Deere TimberLink system as nine operators forwarded 8868 loads, in total, at sites in mid-Sweden. Load-sizes were not available. For the average and median extraction distances (219 and 174 m, respectively), Loading, Unloading, Driving empty, Driving loaded and Other time effective work (PM) accounted for ca. 45, 19, 8.5, 7.5 and 14% of total forwarding time consumption, respectively. The average and median total time consumptions were 45.8 and 42.1 minutes/load, respectively. The developed models explained large proportions of the variation of time consumption for the work elements Driving empty and Driving loaded, but minor proportions for the work elements Loading and Unloading. Based on the means, the crane was used during 74.8% of Loading PM time, the driving speed was nonzero during 31.9% of the Loading PM time, and Simultaneous crane work and driving occurred during 6.7% of the Loading PM time. Time consumption per load was more strongly associated with Loading drive distance than with extraction distance, indicating that the relevance of extraction distance as a main indicator of forwarding productivity should be re-considered.
The forwarder loads processed wood and transports it to a landing. Productivity of forwarding could be improved by increasing driving speed, but difficult forest terrain limits this. According to current literature, crane work is the most time-consuming work element of forwarding, so improving crane work productivity is essential for improving forwarding productivity. One way to do this is through automation of recurrent boom movement patterns, or alternatively automation can be used to ease crane work. When using conventional boom control (CBC), the operator manually controls each of the independent boom joint movements and combines them to achieve a desired boom tip movement, but boom tip control (BTC) allows the operator to control boom tip movements directly. The objective of the present study was to examine whether BTC facilitates crane work and affects the slopes of learning curves for beginner-level forwarder operators. The study was carried out using a standardised test routine to evaluate effects of two fixed factors, system (levels: CBC, BTC) and point of time (four levels), on five dependent variables. Four of the five dependent variables measured ease of boom control and the fifth measured crane work productivity. The results showed that there were no significant differences in the slopes of learning curves between the systems but the BTC did increase crane work productivity and made boom control easier.