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André Dezanet

General Manager of Vallourec Florestal


Digital forestry in the service of man in the field

As a starting point, I would like to conceptually reinforce the term 'Digital Forestry', which has been widely used by professionals with the most diverse skills in the forestry sector. In a very pragmatic way, we can understand Digital Forestry as the result of the sum of Digital Technologies and Forest Management. It arises from the moment when technological solutions are the basis for management actions of the most diverse activities in the forestry chain.

Given the nature of the topic, here I would have the opportunity to describe and delve deeper into numerous technological advances developed in the forestry sector, which present a steep curve of solutions applied since the beginning of the 2000s. Technologies related to Advanced Geographic Information Systems for data collection by remote sensing, using GPS, satellites, drones and other devices. Also, in the data collection stage, the Internet of Things, with the use of sensors to obtain records in real time, installed in countless equipment used in forestry activities and operations. We have also observed significant progress in the ability to use this significant mass of data obtained. This data has now been interpreted through the use of Artificial Intelligence, through algorithms and programs, and also applied in the context of Machine Learning, which support the processing of this large amount of data, learning from it, allowing prediction of patterns, future trends and, above all, helping in decision making.

It is possible to observe that technological solutions have presented such significant progress, as they rely on initiatives coming from different fronts, reaching the market through developments made by forestry companies themselves, but also by universities, research and development institutes, and above all by startups.

And, within this universe of existing solutions and possibilities, I would, however, like to focus on an aspect related to technology at the service of workers present in the field, on the service fronts. Here I take the opportunity to share a little more about two mobile application solutions, developed by Vallourec, mentioned during the Digital Silviculture panel, at the 5th Brazilian Silviculture Meeting held, as an integral part of the 5th Expoforest program.

When we think about the use of technologies applied in forestry activities and operations, we immediately refer to the replacement of man by machines. The fact is that many solutions developed lead to this replacement, which has often been increasingly imposed, due to the growing shortage of professionals in the field to carry out the activities. But, on the other hand, we have examples of technologies that come to support and provide technological support to forestry workers in the performance of their duties.

A success story I would like to share is RH Digital, developed by the Brazilian Information Technology team at Vallourec. It is an application made available to all company employees that allows the concentration of various people management functionalities. It is a digital bridge between the human resources area and the employee. With this application, it became possible to dematerialize routines that previously required the presence, physical registration and direct contact of the employee. As an example of the solution's features, which were very well accepted by users, everyone has remote access to their monthly payment receipt, requests for vacation and manages hours worked through the application; manage investment and credit resources allocated to the company's cooperative, receive relevant information and news about the company.

A second success story of a digital solution recently implemented at Vallourec is the EPI Center. This technology made it possible to dematerialize the management of personal protective equipment. The entire routine that was previously based on the physical registration form for personal protective equipment, signed by each employee upon receipt of the material, also literally left the paper. The worker continues to sign for receipt of their material, but on a digital device, which is stored in their database. It is a tool that brings greater security to the employee and benefits to the company. We now have an expanded guarantee in the distribution of personal protective equipment defined for the function that the employee performs, present in their digital registration, which reinforces the level of safety of workers when carrying out their activities. As it is a tool whose information management is integrated, it enables waste reduction, intelligent inventory management and reliability in audits.

Digital Forestry is present more than ever in our daily forestry lives. And despite all the advances, some important challenges are still latent. Technical challenges such as full and easily accessible connectivity in remote plantation areas; the integration of data, generated every day at a greater speed and in greater quantity, resulting from countless implemented solutions; and the security of the data obtained, guaranteeing reliability and ensuring the competitiveness of its holders. Challenges related to investments necessary to keep up with this technological evolution, which impose different possibilities between companies, investors and rural producers.

And, above all, challenges facing people, who are at the center of this digital transformation: workforce training challenges, especially due to the fact that new skills are required to keep up with changes, which requires greater attention in training and training of professionals. This is necessary to attract and retain people who are entering the job market, but, above all, to combat the digital exclusion of groups or people who work in the field.

Therefore, digital forestry at the service of people in the field is full of possibilities, excellent examples implemented, opportunities not yet developed or fully implemented. The focus on professionals as users of technological resources in the field is vital, so that we can extract the expected results from excellent solutions that further strengthen the competitiveness of the Brazilian forestry sector.