07 Sep 2022

Measurement and evaluation of optimizations in raw wood logistics

WHFF project 2018.05 

Authors: Lorenz Diefenbach, Mélanie Thomas 

 

The most important facts in brief 

 

  • A higher payload has a positive effect on the total transport costs.  
  • Return loads lead to a considerable reduction in the cost burden because not all costs are charged to the roundwood.  
  • Log logistics and the tasks involved are part of a complex system. In order to facilitate decisions, intelligent software adapted to the respective needs can be helpful.  
  • Important prerequisites for successful further development are: free market conditions, motivation and knowledge transfer.  
  • An early strategic orientation of the industry with clear positions can improve the image and contribute to a reduction of CO2 emissions. 

 

Project description 

The transport from the forest to the wood processor accounts for a considerable share of the wood supply costs and has increased in recent years for various reasons; thus, optimization potentials of cost savings were analysed and practical tests were carried out to understand where there is room for improvement. 

Based on literature research, technical and organizational approaches to reduce transport costs in raw wood logistics were identified, described and assessed with regard to their potential application in Switzerland. After the gathering, it was determined which of these approaches should be tested by which practice partner for their suitability for use and to identify concrete savings potential. 

For the practical tests in the technology part, six different trucks were used. The trucks differed in their equipment (with / without crane, trailer loadable or not and thus also in the maximum possible payload) and their movements were recorded using a freely available smartphone application. 

Conclusions 

The results of the technology part showed that the average utilization of the payload of the trucks is very high and offers little potential for optimization. Ultimately, the tests showed a tendency for a linear relationship between the following factors: 

  • total transport costs and transport distance; 
  • total transport costs per ton kilometre and payload; 
  • total transport costs per hour and payload.  

In conclusion, it was found that the most favourable variant is road transport with return freight because part of the costs can be allocated to the return freight product. 

There is potential for optimization in the use of more efficient systems for securing the loads on the rail cars, loading the flats onto the trucks, and reducing the waiting times for the timber buyers. Which transport variant is the most cost-effective in combined transport is strongly dependent on the initial conditions (such as distance forest – station or station – mill). 

The performed field tests also confirm that for significant and more meaningful results, an increase in the number of repetitions per truck model is required. Implementing this would require automatic and complete data collection to reduce the effort for data evaluation, while at the same time ensuring data quality. 

This could help to compare the transport variants and suggest the most cost-effective solution depending on the distances between forest, station, and customer and, more in general, support decision-making in this industry. 

The project was supported by the Forest and Wood Research Promotion Switzerland WHFF-CH of the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN 

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