Wood Business

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Applied research – scanner scaling

Sept. 8, 2014 - Gone are the days when scalers worked on the water, scaling flat rafts of logs to determine log volume and quality. Today, most logs are scaled in dryland sortyards by weighing loaded log trucks on platform weight scales. However, there is still a significant volume that must be piece scaled by manually measuring the dimension of logs. Manual piece scaling is time consuming and inefficient and the forest industry wants to use modern technology to develop more efficient methods.

FPInnovations and the industry identified laser log scanners used in sawmills as a technology that could be adapted for scaling logs. Modern scanners offer the possibility of reducing scosts, addressing the shortage of scalers while providing an accurate scale. Implementing this technology would require changing regulations and operational practices.

All scanning technology must be certified by Measurement Canada if it is used for scaling timber and the scale will be used in trade. Recognizing there was no standard for certification, the Canadian Standards Association Technical Committee on Scaling of Primary Forest Products is currently developing a standard for log scanning devices. As you read this, Measurement Canada is setting test procedures to ensure that log scanners meet their requirements as well as the CSA standard.

From hurdles to solutions
In a recent report, FPInnovations identified the many challenges of implementing scanner scaling in B.C., regulations only being one of them. Although the report focuses on implementing the technology in the coastal sector, it identified issues common to all provinces. To move scanner scaling forward, the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources Operations formed The Provincial Log Scanning Technical Review Committee of which FPInnovations is an active player. The Committee’s mandate is to provide recommendations for implementing scanner scaling to authorities.

The Committee recognized that log scanners can measure the gross volume of each log, but they cannot determine the species, grade, and net volume. Provincial regulations require this information. Two approaches were developed for capturing this information: 1) employ qualified scalers to determine species, grade and measure defect by visually examining each log, or 2) use a sampling procedure similar to the system used for weight scaling.

Many other procedures will need to be developed, including methods for ensuring load and timber mark integrity and accommodating scanner data in the provincial harvest billing system. The committee also proposed three approaches for reconciling scanner scaling technology with established scaling practices:

  • Implement scanner scaling that conforms to existing regulations, practices and industry and provincial business systems,
  • Write new rules and regulations that are specific to scanner scaling,
  • Write new regulations and policies that address outstanding errors and or omissions and which consider integration of new and evolving technology.

Going forward
FPInnovations is researching a new all-in-one scaling technique that could determine species and grade for scanner scaling. Under this system, the visible top logs of sample bundles would be piece-scaled while floating in the water, then the species and grade distribution from the scaled logs would be applied to the entire log boom. Two trials have already been completed and reports are being written.

While FPInnovations and its partners from the forest industry are working towards conducting a scanner scaling pilot project, Measurement Canada has indicated procedures for testing the certification of scanners should be in place by October 2014.

For a copy of the report go to: https://fpinnovations.ca/Extranet/Pages/AssetDetails.aspx?item=/Extranet/Assets/ResearchReportsFO/3039.pdf#.U59akfl5Nb4

For more information, contact Peter Dyson at peter.dyson@fpinnovations.ca or 604-222-5635.

Jean-Lucbernier, M.Sc., Senior Communications Specialist. Additional reporting by Jennifer Ellson, Senior Communications Specialist, FPInnovations

September 8, 2014  By Jean-Luc Bernier

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