An $800,000 quest for better returns from New Zealand forests has led to a world-first development in forest information technology, with potential to save the industry more than $250 million a year. Technology New Zealand provided $395,000 in funding to the joint-venture research project between Rotorua-based Interpine Forestry Ltd and LIRO (Logging Industry Research Organisation). Its aims were to improve the utilisation of timber from trees; the resulting technology uses measurement controls and real time information to increase profitability.

According to former forestry contractor the Managing Director of Interpine, the tools can be used either as a fully integrated system or independent componentry. The three tiered harvest management tools increase profitability by customising cuts, minimising waste and enabling contractors to analyse what is in each stand.”We now have a suite of electronic tools which can fit into a contractor’s existing system or be used as a total system by themselves. The tools are electronically linked via RT modems or telephones to a common database for analysis or report drafting. “”The ‘Logger’ is a calliper-based electronic tool for optimising stems which shows where to cut the stem and which cuts will provide maximum value. The ‘Forester’ tells the forester what’s in the stand so he can actively market it and the ‘Stocks’ data logger records log stocks movement in and out of yards and the forest landing,” Scott says.

Interpine says this integrated system is both a local and international first which allows for significantly improved matching of stand to market, accurate co-ordination of logging and order filling and log product tracking.Funding from Technology New Zealand assisted in bringing together the research capabilities of LIRO and Interpine’s practical capabilities, to take the process to the final development stage.”Increased efficiency in harvesting techniques could save the New Zealand forestry industry more than $250 million each year,”  “The beauty of this system is any of the components can easily be pieced together and it’s extremely cost effective when you look at the benefits.” The new range has already sparked expressions of interest from markets as far afield as the USA, South Africa and Chile.

Prepared on behalf of Technology New Zealand by Jan Sedgwick, Carrara Communications, 09 579 7270