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Major benefits expected from new technology

Hon Nathan Guy
Minister for Primary Industries

Hon Jo Goodhew
Associate Minister for Primary Industries

17 September 2015

Major benefits expected from new forest harvesting technology

A demonstration of new forest harvesting technology near Nelson today marks a major step forward in ensuring the safety of forest workers working on steep land, Ministers Nathan Guy and Jo Goodhew say.

The demonstration featured New Zealand’s first ever remote controlled forest harvesting machine.

“This ground breaking technology, developed by the Steepland Harvesting Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme, is the first of its kind in New Zealand, and we believe a world first for a tracked excavator-based felling machine,” says Mr Guy.

“It marks a big advance in the safety of forestry harvesting operations while increasing productivity at the same time. It follows successful initial trials of a prototype system in July 2014.”

Steepland Harvesting is a 6-year, $6 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and a consortium of forestry companies and contractors, led by Future Forests Research Ltd (FFR).

“This programme has delivered a number of innovations, including development of the ClimbMAX harvester, a ground-based, winch-assisted harvesting machine which can fell and bunch logs on steep slopes of up to 45 degrees,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“This new harvester has already attracted international interest with two machines successfully exported to British Columbia.”

Steepland Harvesting has been a catalyst for a new generation of mechanised tree felling. Since the programme started in 2010 the level of mechanisation of tree felling has increased from 23 percent of all harvesting operations in 2010, to 38 percent of operations in 2014, according to industry information.

Installing remote control technology into the felling machine is a further step towards full tele-operated (remote control outside of line-of-sight) tree harvesting, which the programme is expecting to achieve in 2016.

Successful commissioning of the remote control system is the latest result from three years of design and engineering research and development by the FFR team involving Scion, Cutover Systems Limited and ADM Design Ltd, working with harvesting contractor Wood Contracting Nelson Ltd.

“Steepland Harvesting is a clear example of the forest industry and government working together to keep forestry workers safe, while improving productivity,” says Mr Guy.


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