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Carlos Roberto Borba Rossetto

General Manager of Sales, After-sales and Komatsu Forest Brasil Marketing


The development of forestry equipment

The development and updating of forestry equipment and machines in Brazil has become a global reference. This is due to large investments in expanding factories to produce cellulose and other products made from wood from planted forests. These companies have always sought the best efficiency and low cost in forestry operations.

Previously, the main manufacturers of forestry equipment developed their products for the northern hemisphere and then adapted them for Brazil. However, recently, they began to consider projects initiated in Brazil, creating and updating products that meet the demand of the Brazilian forestry market.

Although the main factories are still in Scandinavia or North America due to issues of production scale and history, development already largely considers the variables of our reality for new solutions.

The main challenges are to develop products that maximize production, with a faster initial learning curve to achieve ideal production, through semi-autonomous technologies, increasingly durable, delivering a low cost per hour worked. The shortage of qualified labor accelerates the development of autonomous and automated solutions for some stages of equipment operation, which adds value to the automated harvesting or planting cycle.

The objective is always to combine this development with greater delivery of results or lower maintenance costs. The technology needs to provide a lower cost per cubic meter of wood delivered to customer plants to really be considered, and this on a large scale. Mechanized and automated forestry has been a known bottleneck for a long time, but it has gained strength with solutions that are beginning to change the concept of large-scale forest planting in Brazil and around the world. It is the beginning of an era of innovation in this area of the forestry business, which seeks to improve the quality of life of workers in the field and guarantee the sustainability of the sector.

There is still a lot to be done in relation to forestry equipment, but the first step has already been taken and there is no turning back. The results already show that it is really worth it. Harvesting machines are increasingly technological and durable. Previously, what was mostly adapted to a hydraulic construction excavator outside the factory for the large volume of harvesters is now an expired item, and the majority of forestry machines are now manufactured on the scale production assembly line in the plants of factories that produce equipment for other machine segments.

Harvester heads, for example, which used to be the rule of two units in the life of the machine in a shelling operation, currently combined with the evolution of quality in preventive maintenance, are used throughout the life of the harvester, reaching up to 25, 30 thousand hours of work with a favorable index in the cost comparison between maintaining it or installing a new one halfway through this cycle. Forwarders have also evolved, and today they have loading boxes that carry logs up to 7.5 meters long on flat or sloped areas, and are becoming more and more efficient when transferring.

Furthermore, machine hourly productivity levels have evolved compared to the last 10 years. It is already possible to observe an increase of up to 50% in the production per hour of machines of the same model in this temporal comparison. Obviously, the qualified operator is a central point in this evolution and the supply chain will guarantee that This average persists with high equipment availability. Despite the incessant search for people interested in entering this market, there are already many with enough experience to deliver excellent levels of production and who become a reference for new challenges and training of qualified labor.

Machine data and fleet management programs are allies in creating references with the best operators and correcting errors in those with less experience. Remote fleet management also contributes to increasing productivity, in addition to the still limited evolution of field connectivity, which allows remote assistance in urgent maintenance situations, reducing the cost of the operation twice: in the cost of technician travel until the failed equipment and the time the machine is stopped.

The future has already begun, but there is still a lot to come when it comes to machines and equipment for both harvesting and forestry. Everything aims for maximum efficiency, combined with sustainability rules that reflect on people's quality of life in general. Solutions such as remote machine operations, autonomous machines, use of new fuels and remote fleet management systems are already standing out and, from now on, will begin to gain scale among those who believe a little more in innovation trends.

We cannot forget that after-sales, the engagement of new people to work in this market and the training of operators and maintenance technicians are fundamental to guaranteeing the necessary support and promoting efficiency throughout the process, and this is continuous and eternal: the more, the better. From a professional point of view, whoever is willing will have a clear chance of professional development and growth by investing in truly wanting to learn about forestry operations.

We will see the next ten years bringing major developments to our forestry equipment and updating concepts in all possible mechanized activities in this thriving sector.