System Integrates Rugged Mobile Computers, GPS, and Cellular Communications to Increase Efficiency, Reduce Costs from the Forest to the Mill
"Transporting logs from the harvest site to the mill represents up to 51 percent of the total cost of forest products processing, and rapidly rising fuel costs only make the problem worse," said Matt Lehman, forestry automation sales manager. "Many of the inefficiencies along the supply chain are caused by a lack of information. The Blue Ox system collects and processes that information in real time, recommending actions dispatchers can use to reduce or eliminate the bottlenecks that waste time and fuel."
The Blue Ox system features integrated hardware and software across the forestry supply chain:
-- Log trucks are equipped with a rugged GETAC e100 tablet PC with an 8.4" TFT touch screen and a Trimble(R) iLM 31xx module featuring cellular communications and GPS positioning. Log truck software includes in-cab road maps, optimized route mapping with alternate routing; automatic load delivery assignments; landmarks such as mills, fuel stations and start/stop points; geofences at pick-up and drop-off sites; and on-screen messaging and alerts.
-- Loaders are equipped with a rugged Trimble Recon(R) outdoor rugged handheld computer and an iLM 31xx module featuring cellular communications, GPS positioning and 802.11g wireless. Software includes messaging and alerts such as load availability, load destination, trailer configuration and load assignments.
-- The office management software automatically dispatches loads based on truck and load availability. A user-friendly dashboard provides a ticker display showing operating parameters such as the average truck wait times at sites and mills or the previous day's loaded miles. Pop-up exceptions alert dispatchers if trucks are not moving or if there are bottlenecks at harvest sites and mills.
At the harvest site, the Blue Ox system schedules trucks for loading according to availability, and truck arrival times are staggered to minimize waiting. The system tells the loader what loads to put onto what truck, and updates the system when the loaded truck leaves for the mill. Geofences at pick-up and drop-off sites tie loads from each harvest site to their destination, truck and logger -- ensuring supply chain integrity.
In the log truck, the Blue Ox system tells drivers where to deliver loads, including the best route to a destination. After delivery, the system automatically assigns a new load to the truck.
The Blue Ox system gives dispatchers real-time information on truck locations and operations, including the harvest sites (supply areas) and mill locations (demand areas). Dispatchers can monitor and update the system for mill shutdowns, road hazards/detours, truck breakdowns or other supply chain disruptions and recommend corrective actions as needed.
"At a glance, the dispatcher can see which trucks are loaded plus when and where loads are scheduled to be delivered," Lehman said. "Operators can reduce loading times and bottlenecks by having the trucks in queue, and once on the road, more efficient routing helps increase the number of loads delivered, using fewer trucks to deliver the same number of loads."
In one pilot test of the Blue Ox system, coordinated truck dispatch increased the loaded miles per day by 31 percent. In a second test, the number of trucks used was cut by 45 percent and total miles were cut almost 22 percent. Each of the trucks in the second test traveled fewer miles and delivered more loads per truck.
The Blue Ox system is available now through Trimble's Forestry Automation sales channel. For more information on the Blue Ox system, visit http://www.forestryautomation.com
Trimble applies technology to make field and mobile workers in businesses and government significantly more productive. Solutions are focused on applications requiring positioning or location, including surveying, construction, agriculture, fleet and asset management, public safety and mapping. In addition to utilizing positioning technologies such as GPS, lasers and optics, Trimble solutions may include software content specific to the needs of the user. Wireless technologies are utilized to deliver the solution to the user in the field and to ensure communication between the field and the office. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., Trimble has a worldwide presence with more than 3,600 employees in more than 18 countries.
For more information, visit: http://www.trimble.com