Image

The robots are coming!

5 October 2018

Robots are likely to have a bigger role in timber processing as they take over work that is dirty, dangerous or difficult. By Philip Hopkins for Timberbiz

That was a key message of Troy Krogh, regional director of Scott Automation & Robotics, to the WoodTech conference in Melbourne last week. The conference is held annually by the Forest Industry Engineering Association and features many exhibitors.

Mr Krogh said ‘Will robots take my job?’ was a common question by adults as they contemplate what their children are going to do in life.

“I look at it simply – the three Ds – Dirty, Dangerous or Difficult. If the work gets into one of those categories – no one wants to do that! That’s the low-hanging fruit for automation,” he said. “Get people out of the dirty dangerous environment – get them in to better quality roles.” This could apply to any type of work in any sector, be it food service or manufacturing.

Mr Krogh’s company, Scott Automation Robotics, has existed for 105 years as the Scott Technology Group.

“We started as automotive and general engineers, but are that no longer. We reinvent ourselves,” he said.

In World War II, the company manufactured munitions but had adapted to the environment, doing a different form of engineering – high tech products.

“You need to be fast and adaptable, in Australia and New Zealand, otherwise you are crunched by the big guys in the world,” he said.

The company, with 750 employees, has expanded from Australia and NZ to other countries, having become a diversified business with multiple clients.

In the timber industry, Mr Krogh said Scott had developed BladeStop, which stopped people cutting off fingers on blade saws.

The blade mechanically stops when the unit senses that a person has come in contact with the blade. Upon sensing contact, the blade stops operating within 0.009 seconds.

“It took 10 years to develop, and is sold all across the world – a premium product, a big success story,” he said.

Mr Krogh said handling materials was increasingly done by robots, as stacking different products such as scaffolding was not too different to stacking timber.

“You use the existing system to track the size of pieces coming through. Sorting and stacking in one process reduces your footprint considerably,” he said.

Another new area was Automated Guided Vehicles, which can carry heavy loads. They were given tasks to go from one point to another.

“They can program to be adapted; the technologies can move around an obstruction, for example, using adaptive navigation. It follows a path to one area, where it can be loaded again and off to production,” he said. “That vehicle could be any sort of vehicle – large or small forklifts.”

Mr Krogh said Scott applied different technologies to different industries. Meat processing, for example, had common attributes with timber. Cutting meat, like timber, was done increasingly efficiently through automated cutting, he said.

Source: Timberbiz

Read More
Image

Earlybird rates end TODAY

Earlybird rates end this Friday for Environmental Forestry Conference On 25-26 June, ourFIEA Annual Environmental Forestry Conference is running. Registrations are going very well. We bring practical foresters together with local regulators and national policy-makers to debate and bring constructive ...
Read more
Image

Decarbonising transport & logistics

New Zealand environmental specialist, Toitū, recently held a panel to discuss how New Zealand’s transportation and logistics industry, the nation’s second-largest emissions source, can take effective climate action. They shed light on the critical pressures facing supply chains and how to respond ...
Read more
Image

FIEA wood residues conference: time for action

Low carbon economies, extreme weather events, and building resilient domestic supply chains are critical issues in 2024 and beyond. In New Zealand, this has created opportunities for the forestry sector, including significant investments in forest residues. Harvesting regulations are mandating more wood be collected from the forest ...
Read more
Image

Calling all NZ loader operators – be part of this study

Driven by mechanisation, traditional career pathways in forestry crews are evolving. As part of the Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme, ‘Te Mahi Ngahere i te Ao Hurihuri – Forestry Work in the Modern Age’, the Scion Human Factors research group ...
Read more
Image

Kiwi bird surprises at Rosvall Sawmill

Workers at Rosvall Sawmill near Whangārei, New Zealand, had an unexpected visitor, a fully grown kiwi bird. The bird casually strolled into the mill early one Monday morning, and spent a few hours exploring the premises before it found a ...
Read more
Image

Every second counts

During hot and dry periods, there is a serious risk of wildfires. Moreover, a single spark can be enough to start one, in which case every second counts. Having fire extinguishing equipment close at hand can make all the difference ...
Read more
Image

Superhuman AI – smarter than every human by 2025

Billionaire tech boss Elon Musk has recently predicted that superhuman artificial intelligence (AI), surpassing human intellect, could become a reality as soon as next year. If this kind of prediction becomes true, are humans ready to embrace that machines can ...
Read more
Image

Swiss develop drone to explore forest canopy

Inspired by cockroaches, Swiss researchers have developed a new drone which can push away obstacles and move past them. In the future, it will be used to measure biodiversity in remote areas. Environmental monitoring in areas with dense vegetation is ...
Read more
Image

NZ forestry H&S statistics updated – March 2024

Safetree NZ has released their H&S stats dashboard for March 2024. WorkSafe provides statistics on forestry fatalities and workplace incidents. These investigations help inform us of any key issues or trends as they come to light. Overall, there is a downward trend ...
Read more