Image

World-first log scaling robot earns global ranking

20 July 2020

A world-first robotic innovation that scans and measures export logs on trucks has landed its Kiwi developers on the 2020 RBR50, Robotics Business Review’s prestigious global list recognising the 50 most innovative and transformative robotics companies of the year.

Tauranga-based agricultural robotics and automation company Robotics Plus has been named a Global Top 50 Robotics Company for its industry-changing Robotic Scaling Machine (RSM) which automates the accurate volumetric measurement (scaling) of logs on trucks and trailers, replacing manual measurement.

Commercially launched in June 2019, the technology was developed in collaboration with Mount Maunganui-based ISO Limited, which commissioned the first RSM for its facility at the Port of Tauranga and has had it in operation since November 2018. ISO now has eight robots installed across the North Island scaling more than 25% of New Zealand’s 20 million cubic metres of annual log exports. Further installations are planned around the country in 2020.

Dr Alistair Scarfe, Co-Founder and CTO of Robotics Plus, led the RSM technology development. “It’s really exciting to be recognised alongside some of the biggest and best-known robotics, software and automation companies in the world including Boston Dynamics, ABB Robotics, Yasakawa Motoman, Nvidia, SICK and Microsoft,” he says.

Dr Matt Glenn CEO of Robotics Plus, says: “This award validates our collaborative approach to innovation. Our team worked incredibly hard to design and build this world-first log scaling robot in just 12 months by working closely with ISO and a number of other local manufacturing suppliers.”

Paul Cameron, CEO of ISO says the automated process is already having a significant impact as it is a safer, efficient and more productive system than the previous manual system used throughout the world, which requires people to hand scan the logs by climbing between trucks and trailers.

“The Robotic Scaling Machine can automatically scan logs on a truck in 3 to 4 minutes, which compares up to 40 minutes for manual measurement using a ruler. Importantly, it also eliminates exposure to hazards and moves those people into a safer environment and into more skilled roles.”

Mr Cameron says ISO will continue to invest in the robotic technology as it has a clear payback for the company as well as the forestry industry. “We are delivering safer and more efficient systems which improve productivity across the forestry supply chain.”

Steve Saunders, Co-Founder and Chairman of Robotics Plus, says it’s fantastic to see New Zealand’s world-class robotics capability being recognised on the international stage. “The forestry industry globally can benefit enormously from automation. The scaling of logs is traditionally a slow, sometimes dangerous, manual process – so it was well suited to being automated. Due to the success and reliability of the RSM, we’re currently exploring a range of international markets including the US, Canada, South America and Europe.”

Mr Saunders and Dr Scarfe co-founded Robotics Plus to improve the quality, productivity and sustainability across multiple agricultural sectors through automation, via a suite of machine vision, robotics and automation, machine learning and AI, analytics, software and control systems. In 2018 the company completed a US$10M Series A investment with Yamaha Motor Co to accelerate the development of its robotic technologies including robotic apple packers and UGV (unmanned ground vehicles) that can carry out a range of agricultural tasks including robotic harvesting, fruit picking and pollination.

The 2020 RBR50 innovation awards, the ninth annual list of top robotics companies globally, recognises forward-thinking companies and the original, impactful solutions they have created. Widely recognised throughout the world as a leading indicator of robotics innovation leadership, the RBR50 is also a critical measure of robotics sector growth. RBR50 winners were based in the US, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea. Robotics Plus was the only New Zealand company named on the list.

Source: roboticstomorrow.com, photo: Food & Farming Technology

Read More

30,000 machine milestone

Tigercat Industries is pleased to announce that it has built and shipped its 30,000th machine in January 2024, just over 30 years into its existence. From humble beginnings in 1992 when Tigercat had a single product, very little dealer representation, and produced just a handful of machines, the company has grown steadily, expanding both its production capacity and product breadth. A few quick facts Tigercat debuted the 726 feller buncher in April 1992 at a forestry equipment show in Quitman ...
Read more
Image

Komatsu & Williams Racing reignite partnership

Leading heavy equipment manufacturer Komatsu has signed a multi-year deal with Williams Racing to become the Principal Partner of the British team from the start of the 2024 FIA Formula One World Championship (F1) season. Komatsu was a key partner ...
Read more
Image

One year on – threat from fragile hills grows

One year ago, all hell broke loose in Tairāwhiti when Cyclone Gabrielle propelled 1.4 million tonnes of wood debris down the East Coast’s steep, fragile hillsides into rivers and on to bridges, homes, farms, roads and beaches below. Though the ...
Read more
Image

Wingtra debuts pioneering Lidar drone solution

Wingtra has unveiled its innovative Lidar-drone solution. The new Lidar payload is designed to seamlessly integrate the efficiency, ease of operation, and high accuracy of the WingtraOne GEN II drones with an advanced Wingtra-engineered Lidar sensor, offering notable advancements in ...
Read more
Image

First unmanned forestry machine tested

A study published in the Journal of Field Robotics assessed the world’s first unmanned machine designed for autonomous forestry operations. Investigators demonstrated that using computer vision, autonomous navigation, and manipulator control algorithms, their newly developed machine can safely, accurately, and ...
Read more
Image

New CEO for Forest Industry Contractors Association

The Forest Industry Contractors Association (FICA) has announced the appointment of Rowan Struthers as its new CEO. An experienced professional who has worked across the forestry sector in various roles including senior leadership and forest management, Rowan will take over ...
Read more