Automation has been touted in forestry as a means to help improve production, keep people safe and also overcome the shortage of workers in our industry. 

But it can also help contractors protect their investments, according to Rien Visser, Associate Professor of Forestry Engineering and the University of Canterbury.

Prof Visser told the 2018 Forest Growers Research conference in Tauranga last month computers react much faster than humans, meaning they can avert situations that might cause equipment damage and injure people.

He highlights the example of a yarder pulling a stem to the landing, saying: “If a tree coming up a slope hits a stump it results in a big spike in tension and it takes an operator one-and-a-half-to-two seconds to respond to that – the computer can respond in one one-thousandth of a second to that and actually slow it.

“We are tipping over one yarder here in New Zealand every month and this is one of the ways technology can help us to prevent these occurrences.”
Prof Visser says that is just one example where foresters should be welcoming automation in the workplace.

Among other examples of how automation is likely to be seen in harvesting
equipment are driverless skidders and forwarders. He points out that farm tractors doing repeat jobs are already being automated, as are trucks working in mines. He can foresee automated machines being built without cabs, thus saving contractors up to $15,000 for, say, a harvester for forwarder.

This content was republished with permission from the NZ Logger Magazine. For more information visit: