The lack of Internet connectivity in the forest is a major obstacle to the digital transformation of forest operations, which seeks to improve the performance of harvesting and transport operations, the safety of forestry workers and the sustainability of operations.
As the Forest Products Association of Canada rightly states, “Universal access to high-speed Internet must be a national priority.” This is why FPInnovations is continuing its work to bring connectivity to the forest. The intensified efforts of recent months have led to remarkable progress.
Why is connectivity needed in the forest?
Through the Forestry 4.0 program, FPInnovations is working to provide forest operations with an Internet access solution to offer them all the benefits of connectivity, including:
- Communication between machines to improve work planning and coordination
- Safer workplace for forestry workers through a connection with the outside world
- Real-time data exchange from on-board telemetry systems
- Real-time access to roadside and harvested volumes for better supply chain coordination
- Improved communication between forestry workers and supervisory staff
- Improved machine utilization by facilitating the diagnosis of mechanical problems and the purchase of parts remotely
- Enable the implementation of advanced technologies, such as remote control and automation
FPInnovations accelerated the pace by testing different combinations of systems to deliver advanced connectivity in the forest. The projects have enabled FPInnovations to develop a network of technology partners who can offer high-performance solutions.
Two projects in parallel with FPInnovations members have demonstrated that the right combination of systems can achieve speed of more than 10 MB along with a non-line-of sight range up to 9 km depending upon terrain.
The deployment of these systems has demonstrated several applications that will impact the way operations are set up, as well as their performance in terms of safety, sustainability, and efficiency:
- Sending machine data to cloud
- Remote maintenance with suppliers
- Live drone video streaming
- Voice and video communication
As part of our field-testing program, two days of demonstration in the forest – with in-person and online participation – took place with the members of FPInnovations. FPInnovations members can access the recordings of these events through the FPInnovations library.
The expertise acquired and the results obtained through FPInnovations’ research and demonstrations are now allowing the team to support the deployment of connectivity technologies. But since each operation has its own characteristics and requires a customized and appropriate technological approach, FPInnovations continues targeting diverse opportunities and obtaining proper estimates on return-on-investment.
Though the expertise gained as well as the network of partners FPInnovations has developed, FPInnovations is able to support its members in assessing opportunities related to better connectivity, in identifying the best combination of technology, and in guiding the financial evaluation. FPInnovations is also able to support the forest industry with spectrum access and work with device manufacturers to their device certified if not already.