Digital technologies now span the entire forestry value chain, from forest information and integrated harvesting systems right through to modern log landing management systems. The technologies in question include drones, apps, laser scanners and all kinds of sophisticated software programs. Out in the forest, a key focus of this digital wizardry is on optimizing the performance of large-scale machinery. One approach to doing this, which is increasingly gaining traction, involves the digital integration of customer orders with harvester and forwarder operations.

The Swedish forestry machine manufacturer Rottne already offers market-ready solutions in this area. They will be presented at LIGNA by Kopa, Rottne's distributor for German speaking Europe, the Netherlands and Belgium. Rottne’s latest generation of harvesters automatically feed daily production and timber position data back to their forwarder counterparts, thereby optimizing log recovery operations. Rottne's forest geoinformation system optimizes in-forest route planning, saving time and costs. There is also a program for daily production with coordinates showing the position of roadside timber stacks as well as an operations follow-up program with times for loading, unloading and servicing. The integrated analysis system generates on-screen displays of information on the dimensions of the logs being processed. Other harvester systems can even forecast the likely timber yield and pre-calculate possible log grade options before processing begins.

John Deere and Ponsse offer similarly sophisticated forestry machines, and both will also be represented at LIGNA by their respective distributors, Nuhn and Wahlers. This year, Wahlers will be showcasing the PONSSE Opti product family, which consists of machine control and work management systems for harvesters, forwarders and track-based applications. German company Terex will be using LIGNA to present its Fuchs Telematics loader fleet management system, which can be retrofitted to older loader models. Fuchs Telematics provides real-time information on machine location, operating status, fuel consumption and faults. The system’s GPS location data enables more accurate operations and optimized route planning. Zeppelin’s Connected Worksite software application, which will also be presented at LIGNA, is based on a similar idea. It boosts productivity by digitally integrating Caterpillar machines with office-based operations management functions.

Visiting industry professionals with an interest in smart forestry applications will find a wealth of relevant ideas and technologies throughout LIGNA, including on the open-air site. For instance, in the activity zone in front of Pavilion 33, the German Forestry Council (KWF) will be showcasing the current state of the art in UAV-based log measurement systems. Another key information hub for all things digital will be the Wood Industry Summit in Hall 26 (Stand H28). Tuesday, 23 May, will be given over to a series of lectures on digitalization in the forestry industry. Organized by the KWF, the day’s lectures will run under the overall theme of "Forest 4.0 – a mere vision, or the shape of things to come?" Attendees can look forward to learning about a host of innovative technologies, such as the ELDATsmart tool, which integrates the data streams of all the participants in the timber logistics chain. Also well worth a visit for the digitally minded will be Pavilions 35, 33 and 32, plus the activity zones under the EXPO Canopy, where exhibitors will be running live demonstrations addressing a wide range of forestry topics.