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Flávio Cunha Souza

Regional Manager of the Forestry Segment from Expresso Nepomuceno


The evolution of forest transport

The forestry segment plays a fundamental role in the global economy, providing essential raw materials for various sectors. In recent years, the expansion of the sector in Brazil has been notable, with significant investments in this production chain. However, for this industry to be efficient and sustainable, effective and safe logistics of wood from harvest to factories and distribution are necessary.

The evolution of transport in recent years has played a crucial role in this process, with increased weight and volume capacity transported, employment, more technology and training and qualification of specialized labor. Road transport represents a significant portion of the costs in forestry logistics, reaching, in some cases, 40% of the process costs. Therefore, it is crucial to look for ways to reduce costs and increase productivity to ensure the sector's competitiveness.

One of the challenges of forest transport has always been to increase load capacity and volume per trip, including the transition from modes with greater capacity, such as the change from a Bitrem vehicle with a Total Gross Weight of 57 tons to a Triple Rear Axle with a capacity of 74 tons, always considering the structural limitations of the highways and the topography of the planted areas.

The weight capacity of vehicles is regulated by specific standards, with the aim of protecting the road infrastructure, which consider not only the total weight of the vehicle, but also the appropriate distribution of weight over the axles to avoid damage to the roads and ensure stability. of the vehicle while driving.

Vehicles used in forest transport include trucks with trailers or semi-trailers, and weight capacity varies depending on factors such as: type of vehicle, axle configuration, regulatory standards, technology, innovation and environmental impact.

The advancement of modes, especially over the last 10 years, is going through a period of great reduction in the tare weight of equipment, with the advancement of equipment engineering, caused by logistics companies and shippers. Extra light and specialized equipment then emerged, with increased load capacity through the use of lighter materials, making it possible, at times, to achieve up to a 20% reduction in tare weight and, consequently, an increase in weight capacity. liquid transported.

This movement brought gains to forestry transport, however, there were situations of extreme reduction that compromised the useful life of the equipment, the rate of breakdowns, availability, increased maintenance costs and risk to operational safety. It was necessary to find a balance point and, currently, the equipment has a weight of between 12% and 15% lighter, providing an increase in net load capacity, compared to equipment used in the last decade.

It is now up to explore new technologies and materials used, to seek a new wave of opportunities to increase efficiency in forest transport. Another fundamental point concerns the use of embedded technologies. These technologies today play a vital role in improving the efficiency, safety and sustainability of forest transport. It is possible to distinguish three main bases: telemetry, fatigue control and logistics management monitoring.

Telemetry involves collecting real-time data through sensors installed on vehicles and assets. It monitors metrics such as speed, location, fuel consumption and engine performance. This allows you to optimize operations, improve efficiency, prevent mechanical problems and optimize routes. This results in operational efficiency, preventive maintenance and logistics. Furthermore, it allows the boarding of a rotogram that allows the driver to view the route conditions throughout the trip, generating greater transport safety.

Fatigue control is essential to prevent accidents caused by tiredness. These include sensors that track driving patterns, cameras that monitor the driver's eyes and face for signs of drowsiness, and warning systems for unsafe behavior such as leaving the lane or distracted driving.

Monitoring is essential to optimize logistics and effectively manage transport. This involves efficient planning, execution and control of the times and cycles involved. Data analysis makes each stage of the journey more efficient and productive.

Embedded technologies play a crucial role, improving operational efficiency, driver safety and logistics management. These innovations contribute to the modernization and sustainability of the sector, guarantee a more efficient use of resources and a reduction in environmental and economic impacts.

Despite technological advances, the forestry industry faces significant challenges related to a shortage of qualified labor, especially among professional drivers. In this context, policies to encourage education, training and qualification have proven essential to fill this gap. Due to this shortage that affects the entire road transport chain in the country, it is necessary to invest in extensive training programs to prepare drivers to deal with this challenging logistics.

The programs include theoretical and practical training, simulations of field situations and instructions on safety and regulations. Partnerships between industry, educational institutions and regulatory bodies are being established to develop curricula adapted to the demands of forestry logistics. Furthermore, well-structured training programs attract young people to the career, while investment in ongoing training increases satisfaction and retention of experienced professionals. This training also prepares drivers to deal with embedded technologies and management systems.

In short, the driver shortage in forestry transportation is a challenge that requires a comprehensive approach. Investing in training and training not only improves drivers' skills, but also contributes to professional retention, road safety and the overall success of forestry operations.

Finally, it is essential to highlight the growing relevance of sustainability and environmental, social and corporate governance criteria in the forestry transport sector. The adoption of electric vehicles represents an effective strategy to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions, while the implementation of sustainable practices in logistics and the use of biofuels also play a crucial role in reducing emissions. Furthermore, it is necessary for the segment to take environmental, social and governance impacts into account in its operations, in order to promote sustainability and align with environmental, social and corporate governance criteria. These initiatives not only have a positive impact on the environment, but also promote a more favorable image and ensure the long-term sustainability of the forestry industry.

In summary, the evolution of transportation in forestry logistics continues to shape the industry, addressing challenges such as increased weight and volume capacity, operational efficiency and sustainability. Applied technologies, such as telemetry systems, fatigue control and advanced real-time logistics monitoring, are boosting the effectiveness and safety of operations. However, the shortage of skilled labor, especially among drivers, remains a challenge. Through education policies, training and strategic partnerships, the sector is striving to overcome this gap, training professionals to face the complex challenges of forestry logistics. The result is a sector that is more resilient , efficient and prepared to face the challenges of the future.