The forest industry experiences some of the highest fatality rates among industrial sectors in Canada. Because of the nature of forest industry sites, ground workers and heavy equipment are often required to operate in close proximity. Therefore, many injuries and fatalities can result from workers being struck by an object or piece of equipment.
The proportion of cases in which vision or lack of good visibility was the principle factor or contributing cause is significant. Blind spots, obstructions, and poor lighting conditions are the most common factors contributing to vision-related fatalities. Proximity Detection and Alert Technologies (PDAT) are already used by other industries such as construction and mining; recently, FPInnovations researchers tested a PDAT system under typical operational conditions.
The system under investigation was a magnetic field–based proximity detection system that alerts both the heavy equipment operator and the pedestrian every time the magnetic warning zone, created around the machine, is broken. The system acts as a marker with two zones, Warning and Danger, which are indicated by an LED light and audible sounder for the pedestrian and equipment driver simultaneously. Several pieces of rolling heavy equipment are equipped with a magnetic-field generator while personnel are wearing a proximity sensor that detects the magnetic field from the generator, and initiates warnings.
FPInnovations researchers are assessing the reliability of the system, particularly the correlation between the calibrated and actual detection range as well as its capability to detect and warn through obstacles like lumber decks, metal walls or heavy equipment.
Trials were designed to emulate typical interactions between workers on foot and heavy forklifts working in the shipping area, which is one of the busiest sites at the mill. Preliminary results show that in 100 per cent of the cases, the PDAT system detected a warning/danger zone breach at an actual distance near the calibrated range, and frequently exceeded it. There were no significant differences in detecting distances between open and obstructed view conditions. However, choosing the appropriate calibrating range is a challenge since many variables must be considered to achieve an optimal range. The impact of operational equipment’s speed, nature of work and task, as well as number of pedestrians working in close proximity, needs further exploration to better understand the system’s optimal use, strengths, and weaknesses.
For more information, please contact Vladimir Strimbu [email protected], researcher in FPInnovations’ Fiber Supply group.
Transportation ministries across Canada use stringent performance criteria to determine the safety and impact of vehicles before they are approved for use on their roadways. The evaluation process includes analyses of the vehicle’s dynamic performance, its road space requirements, and the impact these vehicles would have on existing roads and bridges.
Over the years, FPInnovations has led a number of initiatives to develop and promote the adoption of safe, more efficient heavy vehicles, which can provide immediate opportunities to significantly improve the forest industry’s competitiveness, and cut down on fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
In that regard, authorization has recently been granted by British Columbia’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MTI) to operate a 9-axle tridem-drive configuration on designated provincial highways. This is a major achievement, and a big step forward in enhancing the competitiveness of the forest sector. It represents the successful culmination of several years of engineering studies and reviews to ensure that this configuration is safe and productive, and can help sustain forest operations and the communities that rely on them. Evaluations are currently being conducted to have the tandem-drive version of this 9-axle B-train approved on the same routes.
“Going forward, we will be working with our members to get additional routes approved for this configuration (and the tandem drive configuration) across B.C.,” says FPInnovations’ James Sinnett. One of the keys to broader adoption will be the completion of a guide to summarize all of the steps required for a member to obtain approval for additional routes. FPInnovations will be working with both the MTI and the Ministry of Forests, Land, and Natural Resource Operations (MFLNRO) to put together such a guide. In addition, work with the MFLNRO to develop a guide to evaluate resource road networks with respect to the 9-axle configuration is nearing completion and should soon be available to the industry.
“We want to thank the MTI staff who worked with us, as well as all the other collaborators on this initiative, including our industrial partners and MFLNRO. We look forward to continued efforts to improve transportation opportunities based on sound science and engineering, while maintaining or enhancing road safety and the integrity of provincial infrastructure,” added Sinnett.
For more information, please contact James Sinnett [email protected], associate researcher leader in FPInnovations’ Transportation and Energy group.
Winter weight premiums allowed in some provinces helps the forest sector increase yearly revenues and offset the impacts of spring load restrictions. It’s proven that a modest increase in payload during winter can dramatically reduce trucking costs. For example, the Alberta forest industry is estimated to save about $1.6 million per week of hauling with winter weight premiums.
An extensive literature review on freezing pavement engineering and North American winter weight policies shows that five provinces and one territory currently have winter weight policies: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, and the Northwest Territories.
FPInnovations, in cooperation with Alberta Transportation and the Université Laval i3C NSERC Chair, are undertaking a review of the starting threshold for Alberta winter weights. The current policy is based on the 1-m frost depth threshold, which is a very conservative approach. FPInnovations and Université Laval are currently running a series of tests to determine the structural capacity of freezing pavements and, ultimately, the optimum frost depth to be used for setting winter weight premiums.
A typical Alberta pavement was built in Université Laval’s environmentally controlled pavement test pit and trafficking was applied at different load levels with a traffic simulator. Several sensors measure instantaneous pavement responses to the traffic loads and to environmental conditions.
The preliminary results indicated that an increase in load created higher stresses and strains in all layers of the pavement. Also, as the frost penetrated deeper, the pavement remained less reactive to mechanical pressure. Preliminary results revealed that when the pavement reached approximately 500 mm of frost, no strains were recorded in the asphalt layer of the base material. Minor strains were, however, recorded in the subgrade.
The next steps for this project include completing characterization of pavement materials, completing a second cycle of freezing and trafficking, trafficking the pavement during a brief thaw, and analyzing the test results. Based on the findings, FPInnovations will recommend a frost depth for starting full and partial winter weights in Alberta. The second set of trafficking was expected to end in June 2016.
For more information, please contact Papa-Masseck Thiam [email protected], researcher in FPInnovations’ Roads and Infrastructure group.
BY TONY KRYZANOWSKI
When it comes to bridging the gap in achieving knowledge transfer between forest research and practice, it literally is hard to see the forest for the trees.
To overcome this challenge, the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) is taking advantage of new devices and technology to capture multi-perspective images with the goal of providing its many stakeholders with “unique, informative and timely views”.
Derek Sidders, CWFC Regional Co-ordinator and Program Manager, says that when it comes to knowledge transfer, very often “seeing is believing”.
“Using images from standard or unique vantage points to illustrate the workings of forest management tools, site preparation methodologies, and research outcomes is very powerful messaging that we believe in,” he says.
It will now be possible to see forest units managed by the CWFC as part of CWFC or its partners’ programs as a macro unit or in detail—and it will be tied to written and verbal program/activity descriptions and progress, capable of being viewed anywhere using a hand-held device, laptop, or desktop computer.
Eventually, the goal is to develop a number of virtual tours and video vignettes with these unique and timely views embedded in them.
Among the technologies being deployed to gather these unique perspectives are hand-held cameras, mounted on gimbal stabilizers to gather ‘smooth motion’ video during field tours or visits by researchers to remote sites, as well as cameras mounted on forestry equipment as it operates. This gives individuals accessing the information a first-person view of the action—in some cases, watching the forest management practices as they occur.
Another tool being used to capture unique photography and video is a telescopic pole that can extend to a height of 50 feet. It provides a unique view beneath the forest canopy, but above the understory. With the ability to be anchored to a fixed position, the pole can be used to capture elevated time-lapsed imagery, allowing viewers to monitor activities and assess changes on a research site over time.
For above-the-canopy perspectives, CWFC researchers use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), which have proven highly effective for providing larger, landscape views and unique high-resolution overhead views. This is particularly useful for illustrating and proving to stakeholders that much of what the CWFC has to offer can be applied on a practical and commercial scale. This is not always possible from a ground level perspective where one “can’t see the forest for the trees”.
By leveraging new visual and digital technology, Brent Joss, CWFC Fibre Bio-Geoinformatics Analyst, says that the CWFC will be able to provide the visuals necessary to effectively describe and document R & D activities, and illustrate progress and showcase results to stakeholders.
Providing these unique and timely views will help the CWFC advance and encourage adoption of the afforestation and forest management initiatives it has developed. These include the management, harvesting, and transportation methodologies related to short-rotation woody crops and the innovative partial harvest systems established to rehabilitate Mountain Pine Beetle-affected orphan sites.
Joss says that many CWFC stakeholders have interest in the forest resource, but do not have a forestry or forest research background. For example, groups from the energy and agricultural sectors are frequently approaching the CWFC to learn more about afforestation, forest management, and land rehabilitation. Being able to provide groups who are not necessarily familiar with a forestry environment with a more compelling and complete visual message is proving to be essential for effective knowledge transfer.
“For us, being a research organization, knowledge transfer is an essential step in the delivery of our research and development to stakeholders, and it ultimately determines the uptake and impact of our work,” says Joss.
He adds that field tours, articles published in scientific journals, and web sites all serve a useful knowledge transfer purpose. However, using technology to acquire and transmit multi-perspective imagery—in an increasingly digital world where individuals are expecting both easy access to information and unique immersive experiences—has proven to be a powerful way to connect with policy makers, forest practitioners, forest companies, investors, and the public.
A video camera mounted on a telescopic pole at a fixed point is able to provide an overhead view and capture higher quality information in real time as an excavator conducts site preparation on a Mountain Pine Beetle rehabilitation site.
BY TONY KRYZANOWSKI
Ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement is still a few years away—and more detailed analysis is needed on how each Canadian product and service sector could benefit—but based on early evaluation, experts conclude that it’s definitely better for Canada to be in than out.
How Alberta’s forestry sector might benefit should be considered in two ways: actual, measurable trade benefits from lower or eliminated tariffs, and the potential for the TPP to open new markets for conventional wood products, bio-energy products, and novel wood-based bio-materials.
Two bio-materials already available in Alberta are lignin and cellulose nanocrystals (CNC). Promising applications for these wood-based materials are at various stages of research, development and commercialization, thanks in large part to financial support from Alberta Innovates Bio-Solutions (AI Bio).
AI Bio encourages and funds new uses for forest biomass, including development of new building systems and novel bio-products. Steve Price, CEO at AI Bio, says the TPP offers great potential to Alberta’s forestry sector.
“The development of new value-added products comes at a time when the Canadian forest industry will also have larger markets potentially interested in bio-based products, if the TPP is adopted,” Price observes. “With Alberta taking the lead in lignin recovery for use in bio-products, and also ahead in the production of high-quality CNC for numerous bio-industrial applications, Western Canadian forest companies that expand into bio-products will have a leg up if and when the trade agreement is ratified.”
The overall goal of the TPP is to lower tariffs and allow freer trade among participating countries. The countries are Canada, the United States, Japan, Australia, Brunei, Vietnam, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru and Singapore. It represents a market of 792 million people and accounts for close to 40 per cent of the world’s GDP. A formal trade agreement was signed last fall, and countries have two years to ratify the TPP for it to take effect.
Paul Whittaker, President and CEO of the Alberta Forest Products Association (AFPA), and John Curtis, veteran economist and trade agreement negotiator for the federal government, recently took part in a symposium in Edmonton, co-sponsored by the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy, entitled, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and Beyond: Opportunities and Advantages for Western Canada.” Now retired, Curtis was involved in negotiations leading to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Both Whittaker and Curtis agree that the potential exists for Canada’s forest sector to benefit significantly from TPP ratification, particularly with tariffs being lowered for Canadian forest products exported to Japan, where the Canadian forest sector has had a strong presence for 40 years. However, there could be volume limits placed on some products at the lower tariff rate.
“The TPP provides further access to the Japanese market in a way that has not been seen before, and that includes forest products,” says Curtis.
Whittaker says that Mexico, with its growing middle class and lower tariffs for wood products, could also represent an attractive market for more Canadian companies.
The potential for individual Alberta forest product sectors to benefit from the TPP depends on where their products are currently exported among TPP signatories—and how quickly tariffs are slated to be reduced or eliminated. While all sectors will benefit, Whittaker expects that producers of oriented strandboard could be among the earliest beneficiaries, due to some significant early reductions in existing tariffs on that product.
He says the TPP allows Alberta companies to potentially increase exports to existing customers like Japan at lower or eliminated tariffs, and build markets of conventional wood products with new TPP trade partners.
With that foot in the door and having established customer relationships, that provides opportunities to introduce and export novel bio-materials produced in Alberta like lignin and CNC, as well as bio-energy materials like wood pellets into those markets.
“Anything that opens up an opportunity for new markets and establishes a platform that enables us to have reasonable, fair, if not completely free access to other markets, that’s exactly what we strive for,” Whittaker says. “In as much as the TPP is focused on that, we see it as very positive.”
On the Cover:
Everything is in place for the largest live logging equipment show in North America this year—DEMO 2016, to be held at the UBC Research Forest near Vancouver from September 22-24—and the package is impressive. Read all about DEMO beginning on page 38 of this issue.
IS MEXICO RIPE FOR THE PICKING—for Canadian softwood lumber producers?
It was smiles all around at the recent “Three Amigos” Summit in Ottawa, hosted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with guests President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto. But the summit has now got some in the industry wondering how they can expand lumber exports to Mexico.
Logging safety net
A decision by Alberta’s Barmac Contracting to diversify, and be involved in logging, is now paying off and proving to be a solid safety net, with the dramatic drop in activity in the oilpatch.
Ramping it up
Fraser Valley contractor D. Lind Logging has ramped up its equipment line-up considerably in recent years and the family operation is now a full-on stump-to-dump contractor, and able to take on more volume.
Getting back into logging
Having built a successful gravel business, B.C.’s Lincoln Douglas decided to re-enter logging six years ago, doing work in southwestern B.C., and is now looking to get into the value-added sector with a small sawmilling operation.
LSJ Show Guide --DEMO 2016
Full details on the largest logging equipment show this year: DEMO 2016, being held in Maple Ridge, B.C., including a list of exhibitors, schedule of events, site map.
Technology in the woods
With everything from IPads to drones and custom Apps, technology is hitting the woods, and it’s making pretty much everything more efficient—and safer, too.
SOLID SAFETY commitment
West Fraser Timber has a from the top down commitment to safety, which is reflected in the solid safety strategies employed at one of its operations in the B.C. Interior, its Pacific Inland Resources division.
Steep slope logging, European-style
Ponsse dealer ALPA Equipment recently demo’ed some European steep slope logging equipment to two of New Brunswick’s largest forestry operators, to help meet the growing interest in what’s available in steep slope logging technology.
Scaling back log scaling costs
Interfor’s Acorn sawmill in Surrey, B.C. now has the first government certified legal-for-trade log scanner in North America, and it’s reducing scaling costs while providing more accurate log measurements.
Future forests resilient to climate change?
A forestry trial in the B.C. Interior could very well provide some clues into what future forests could look like, in the wake of the mountain pine beetle—and those forests could have increased resilience to climate change.
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions and FPInnovations.