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Improving export supply chain efficiency

An FWPA-funded project is analysing wood export supply chain management from various angles, including value and quality assessment, measurement and inventory assessment, phytosanitary testing and wood loading technologies.

As part of the project — led by chief investigator, Professor Mark Brown, and project leader, Dr Mohammad Ghaffariyan, from the University of the Sunshine Coast — HQ Plantations, the NSW Forestry Commission and Tasmanian forest management company Forico have hosted research trials on log loading and wood measurement.

Several studies have been conducted, including:

1) Technology review on log level chain of custody track and trace system: A technical review of tag, track and trace systems was undertaken from the perspective of the Australian forest industries. Log tagging has enormous potential for improving production efficiencies in the log supply chain from stump to mill or port and ensuring the right match of timber for use in particular end products.

2) Productivity and costs of containerised log loading: Moving empty containers to where they are needed around the world is a large operational cost for shipping companies. Likewise, moving empty and loaded containers around the log yard uses significant resources of both time and money. The project team used three case studies and two additional simulated systems to analyse factors affecting productivity.

3) Sensor technologies for volumetric measurements of logs on trucks: Multi-view Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry and commercial 3D image processing software was tested in this project as an innovative and alternative method for automated volumetric measurement of truckloads. The images were collected with a small UAV, which was flown around logging trucks transporting Eucalyptus nitens pulp logs.

4) Comparison of ship-loading rates: It has been estimated that up to 60% of the cost of sales for logs exported to Asia is in marine freight and port costs. Ship loading rates affect total voyage times, port costs and potentially demurrage fees. Using a mix of publicly available data, recent container handling productivity studies and information provided by marine port and forest industry experts, estimates were made of ship loading rates for logs in containers versus bulk cargo logs. Load rates were estimated to be six times faster for logs in containers versus for bulk cargo log loading. The economic trade-offs between the potential cost savings associated with faster ship loading times and the additional costs associated with placing logs into the containers prior to ship loading will be the subject of a later report.

5) Load technologies and hygiene: A study in QLD and WA is measuring the effect of season, drying and in-forest debarking on container load capacity and load rates and evaluating sapstain (a discolouration caused by fungus) formation and strategies to minimize it.

Results from this project will be published soon.

Posted Date: November 15, 2018

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