How to make best use of every tree?

Forest raw material is one of the keys to sustainable development. There is a wide area of ​​use and a large number of products, not least in what is usually called a “biorefinery”. Skogforsk, together with Södra, is now trying to use data to better match the properties of the tree and the end product.

A new report describes how digital data and knowledge about wood and fiber properties can be used to improve both efficiency in the production processes, and quality of the end product. For example, how a specific tree in the forest can be analysed to determine which products it is suitable for.

Maria Nordström, Skogforsk.

– Skogforsk’s strength is that we are working with the data and the practical problems that exist right now, so this is applied research. We prefer our work to be based on the existing challenges of our partner companies, so consequently we aim for two different cases together with Södra, says Maria Nordström at Skogforsk.

One area of the work is focused on pulpwood, and one on sawn wood products. The aim is to investigate the potential for using additional information about the forest and the timber, all the way to the industry and its customers, for increased value and even better quality.

– Perhaps we have untapped potential when it comes to using the wood in a way that creates more value, and to applying existing information that is not currently used along the entire value chain, says Magnus Petersson, head of forest management and entrepreneurial development at Södra.

Matching the raw material and the end product

Magnus Petersson_Södra

Magnus Petersson, Södra.

Log dimensions and freshness, as well as the wood and fiber properties of the raw material, are important parameters for matching the raw material and the end product. By combining information about dimensions, tree species and geographical location collected by the harvester, with information about the age of the trees from forest registers, wood and fiber properties can be modelled and described for the industrial customer.

– We will start small scale, with little steps. For example, we want to study the potential for a more detailed sorting of timber in the forest, and throughout the route to the industry. The aim is to improve the end product, and at the same time achieve a more optimal utilisation of the raw material, Magnus Petersson continues.

Digital property declarations

By building a system with digital property declarations, where digital data describes the standing forest and the external and internal properties of the harvested products, the information can be used in various applications. This creates favourable conditions for increasing both quality and value recovery, through better matching between the raw material and the end product.

– Put simply, the industry knows more about what is coming, and avoids spending a lot of time and energy sorting on site. In this way, you can also plan harvesting and thinning operations better, based on the kind of raw material needed in the industry right now, says Maria Nordström in conclusion.

Read more about the Work Package Program-wide activities.