Emergent TechnologiesUser friendly telematics

User-Friendly Telematics

By Lindsay R. Mohlere

Billed as the most modern control system on the market, Komatsu’s MaxiXT platform for Komatsu harvesters and forwarders joins the ranks of a wide range of telematics now offered as standard equipment or options by the major forest machine manufacturers.

Introduced in the USA in mid-2020, the MaxiXT system is described by Komatsu as the most modern, user-friendly platform that paves the way for continuous, optimal productivity.

It is a complete system for machine and head control, bucking, crane settings, and administration. The results are unbeatable overviews and follow-ups for felling assignments, as well as complete control of the entire logistics chain.

Above all, Komatsu says, is the user-friendly aspect of the system. The modern graphic user interface and simple menu structures are easy to learn and easy to use, resulting in a short learning curve. The menu system presents relevant information at a glance covering everything from bucking to indicators.

The system is also easy to maintain, adapt, and further develop to suit individual needs. It is powered by a MaxiPC X40 computer with a modern Windows operating system and a fast SSD-type hard drive specifically designed for demanding forest machine environments. That combined with sophisticated software provides faster bucking and computer processing of large quantities of data.

User friendly telematicsAlso available is Komatsu’s MaxiXT Head. It is a separate control system for Komatsu harvester heads mounted on older harvesters or other base machines, such as excavators equipped with harvester heads. The MaxiXT Head is installed parallel to the machine’s integrated control system and offers the same sophisticated functionality as MaxiXT running on a harvester. The system is available with full value-optimized bucking or simpler length-optimized bucking.

Items Worth Noting

In researching this column, I usually come across a number of items of interest that are, more or less, related to the technological advances in the timber business. Some of them get the “Who Knew?” rap.

Here are a few I found interesting.

National Technology and Development Program

Filed under “who knew” that the Forest Service could actually save money and resources? Info on this item came from the USDA website. Ah … transparency!

After WWII, the Forest Service found itself to be the recipient of a huge surplus of military equipment. To take advantage of the opportunity, the Forest Service created the National Technology and Development Program. The program established two centers, one in California and the other in Montana, tasked with repurposing this surplus military equipment to better fight wildfires.

The centers apparently found cost-saving ways to standardize fire equipment like hoses, pumps, and couplings that make it easier to repair and replace broken parts. They refined harnesses, parachutes, and other equipment used in the deployment of firefighters from aircraft to more effectively fight fires in remote locations.

Over the years, the program’s scope has expanded from fire to include forest management, recreation, and engineering research. The program has recently developed artificial intelligence software that connects with logging equipment to more accurately identify which trees to harvest or retain to better manage the landscape.

Other modern advances include updating unmanned aerial systems, or drones, to conduct prescribed fires – also known as prescribed or controlled burns – in remote areas. Imagine the deadly Reaper drone (usually equipped with Hellfire missiles) now refitted to spark prescribed burns, or other drone configurations dropping dragon eggs.

Additionally, the program also maintains consistent equipment standards across the agency for products like fire retardants and personal protective equipment.

It also preserves the Forest Service’s past by maintaining an archive of historical drawings, blueprints, and manuals on how to use tools as rudimentary as axes and crosscut saws.

All good stuff.

2020 Climate Year Review

No doubt about it, 2020 was a tough year. We got punched out by the pandemic, economic havoc, and social upheaval. And, it seems, climate episodes jumped ugly too – to the tune of $22 billion.

According to NOAA, for 2020, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 54.4°F, which is 2.4°F above the 20th-century average, ranking fifth warmest in the 126-year period of record. The five warmest years on record have all occurred since 2012.

The annual precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. was 30.28 inches, 0.34 inch above average, ranking in the middle third of the historical record.

It was the most active wildfire year on record across the West. Five of the six largest fires in California history and the three largest fires on record in Colorado occurred during 2020.

During 2020, several North Atlantic hurricane season records were broken. Thirty named storms formed, which breaks the previous record of 28 set in 2005. Twelve named U.S. storm continental landfalls occurred during 2020. This breaks the previous annual record of nine landfalls set in 1916.

Twenty-two separate billion-dollar disasters were identified during 2020, breaking the previous record of 16 set in 2011 and matched in 2017. Since September 2020, NCEI has identified six new disasters during 2020 including Hurricanes Hanna, Delta, and Zeta; Tropical Storm Eta; and two severe storms.

Biodegradable Tree Shelters on the Horizon

Tree shelter is a generic name for a solid or mesh tube placed over a seedling to provide favorable environmental conditions for seedling growth. They are supposed to protect the seedling from deer, mice, voles, and rabbits. The shelters also act as markers, making the trees easier to see.

Many shelter manufacturers claim that their products photodegrade. Regardless of how long the shelters last, when their job is done, they will not simply disappear. They either will remain, sometimes damaging the tree, or they will fall to the ground. They often break into pieces, and after a few years, can cause quite a litter problem.

Now, two UK companies will team up to develop and manufacture prototypes of a novel biobased, biodegradable tree shelter as part of a feasibility project. The shelters will be designed to protect growing trees — not hinder growth as trees reach maturity — and biodegrade if not collected at end of life.

Of course, there will be prototype testing before the new shelters are available. But it’s another good thing technology brings to our forests.

That’s a wrap. Stay safe out there.

Talk back at [email protected].

(Source: USDA, NOAA, WeatherNation,) 

TimberWest November/December 2013
January/February 2021

On the Cover
Overhead view of Osprey Logistics’ barge transport out of Everett, Washington

2021 OLC Show Guide

Hot-Dry-Windy Index
HDWI attempts to predict bad fire days by taking the wind speed and multiplying it by the vapor pressure deficit.

Barging In
Osprey Logistics serves this logging community by finding a way to bridge logging and barge transport.

Emergent Technology Column
Komatsu Steps Up with User-Friendly Telematics

From the Get-go, A Step in the Right Direction
Building a good reputation by taking care of business, while respectfully treating employees, was the first order of business for Jesse Hunt Logging Inc.

Innovative Loggers Meets Innovative Machine
VanNatta Brothers Logging out of Eugene, Oregon, are pleased with the acquisition of their Quadco 4400 feller head.

Guest Column
Managing Forests for Maximum Value and Health


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