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TECHNOLOGY COMES TO THE FOREST – REMOTE-OPERATED LOGGING MACHINES AND MORE.

Over the last two decades logging operations have become increasingly sophisticated. Modern logging equipment can now process an entire tree into log lengths in one motion. Integrated computer systems are helping loggers get higher productivity and greater wood utilization while at the same time saving fuel and reducing impact on the environment. Wireless communications and real-time data access are transforming decision-making and safety across many types of logging operations, from whole tree to cut-to-length to helicopter logging. And, most recently, remotely controlled forestry machines were used to clear the site of a former gunnery range.

Remotely operated feller-bunchers clear hazardous site, keep operators safe.
The work is being carried out on the site of a former gunnery range, an area that is littered with unexploded bombs and other military ordnance. Because of the risk associated with the unexploded ordnance, the machines were equipped with the innovative technology to allow workers to operate them from a safe location via remote control. The machine operators sit in a nearby office — an air-conditioned trailer — and operate the equipment via laptop computer and operator controls. The remote operator has several video screens to observe the work — multiple cameras are utilized and mounted on the machines with magnets to enable good visibility — and controls the machine as if he was seated in the cab. The cameras can “zoom” and also “pan” or sweep over an area if additional visibility is needed.

Advancing the technology to steep slope applications.
Caterpillar Forest Products is advancing this technology to develop a purpose-built steep slope package. The technology, used in steep slope applications, removes the operator from a hazardous environment and ensures his safety. Instead of working in the cab of a machine navigating steep terrain or manually felling timber with a chain saw, the logger would be located nearby and operate the machine remotely, completely safe. Aside from using remote-controlled machines to mitigate hazardous work environments, the technology may have wider application for the forestry industry, which has difficulty recruiting, training, and retaining good equipment operators. With this technology, forestry equipment operators could potentially run machines from home or office environment up to 100 miles away.

For more on this story visit cat.com/land clearing done remotely.