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Thiago Petine

Development and Project Manager - Bracell Wood Supply


The modernization of wood supply

The wood supply sector, among those that make up the entire forestry production cycle, was certainly the one that received the largest and fastest contribution of technology in machines and equipment. Mechanized harvesting was a pioneer in this sector, where the scarcity and high cost of labor, combined with large factory expansions, the demand for wood and the improvement in safety conditions at work, made large manufacturers of forestry machines disembark here, in the 1990s, with their choices coming from Finland, Sweden, the United States and Canada.

The customization was immediate, mainly for operations with barkless eucalyptus, integrated with equipment of the civil construction line, basically hydraulic excavators, as a base machine, in order to reduce investment and maintenance costs, since a good part of the harvested areas do not they had relevant restrictions, and their use was already common in other sectors. The change was successful and, until today, this set presents great performance and cost-effectiveness, and the main manufacturers already have track machines fully designed for forestry work.

Imported equipment, and even some national ones that appeared on the way, quickly spread among the medium and large companies in the sector, providing better productivity, lower operating costs, a significant reduction in the severity and number of accidents and, mainly, the guarantee scale of production to supply its factories. Currently, even small units have already mechanized or are in the process.

Almost in parallel with forest harvesting, but on a smaller scale, the modernization of wood yards was also a strong evolution in the sector, also bringing a wide variety of equipment, with the most varied systems in operation in the factories, especially pulp. From the conventional forestry crane, through the gantry handlers, to the immense logstackers. In addition, it is possible to say that all medium and large forest-based factories in Latin America already have electric and even hybrid manipulators in their wood receiving lines. This is modernization and technological evolution, each solution, adapted to your needs and moment.

The transport of wood has certainly been the one that has evolved the most in recent years, coming out of the shadows mainly of sugarcane transport. Until recently, large implementers were very resistant to customized solutions for the sector, initially due to the smaller scale of demand and the difficulty in adapting production lines, which opened up opportunities for small and medium implementers to innovate and promptly serve the sector. The forestry area has become a niche of high specialization and demand for technology.

The evolution started from the reduction of tare with the use of special metallic alloys and continues evolving until the most modern vehicle security systems. In tractor units or mechanical horses, we are still a little on the trail of other sectors such as mining and sugarcane, but with some and growing light of our own. In this case, due to the strong similarity of operating conditions, there are no difficulties in sharing projects, having, at the moment, satisfactorily met most of the solutions available on the market, the combination of the lightest implements and the most suitable for the route to be used, either due to differences in type or percentages of paving and predominant relief.

This strategy provides better energy efficiency to the whole, greater productivity, in addition to gains in consumption of tires and mechanical components. The electrification of trucks as well as the search for other fuel sources such as natural gas and biodiesel have made this “green” race increasingly agile.

In the area of roads and road network, we made little progress in technology and equipment. The major modernization has been in telemetry and electronic recording of activities, now providing better control of equipment productivity and fleet management. We still need to evolve in technologies and construction techniques, reduction in the use of natural resources, such as water and coating materials (clay, sand, gravel, gravel, etc.) and energy efficiency. Hence the importance of approaching specialized companies and research institutions. In this line of sharing, the forestry sector has many similarities with other larger sectors, such as mining, agriculture and civil construction.

We must strengthen the interaction and exchange of knowledge with companies and institutions linked to them, as it is certain that we will always be able to take advantage of something new that is practiced in these sectors to test and apply in our operations. For example, what does mining do to control dust in accesses, yards and ore stockpiles? What is the agricultural sector doing good or new in the mechanical maintenance of large and modern cane and grain harvesters? What does civil construction offer in terms of opportunities in road coverings? We need to evolve a lot in this interaction. Go beyond the forests.

Thus, we evolved and modernized our machines and vehicles, we started the “digital” world with data communication, use of machine learning, process automation and we placed energy efficiency as one of the main sustainability goals of the business. However, today and in the coming years, we will face one of the biggest challenges in the sector for its full performance: qualified people.

We are currently experiencing a severe shortage of manpower for the most varied technical and management levels. There is a lack of qualified professionals for technical profiles in the industry and automotive maintenance, as well as operational profiles aimed at field work, such as machine operators and truck drivers. The dispute between companies and even between different sectors of the economy has intensified what was already very difficult.

In this context, it is up to the great demands of these professionals to improve the selection processes, seeking greater assertiveness in admissions and longevity in working relationships, reducing turnover and increasing the regularity of operations. With this in mind, Bracell will inaugurate the Bracell Learning Institute, a physical and organizational structure, which aims at the continuous qualification of both its employees and the residents of surrounding communities and cities, the Lençóis Paulista unit in São Paulo. It is in practice the intensification of the regionalization of the workforce and the search for stability.

The modernization of wood supply operations is accelerating, with more technologies and applications dedicated to the forestry sector emerging every day. Taking advantage of all these advances will only be possible if we invest even more in the qualification of manpower and in its retention in companies and in the regions where we operate. It will be a great challenge to materialize these innovations in quality, productivity and cost gains.