Continuously developing machine data analysis software also benefits small entrepreneurs.
Finnish forest machine entrepreneurs are at the forefront of development in terms of the utilisation of machine data, says Seppo Kontteli from Komatsu Forest Oy.
“In other parts of the world, machines are still mostly considered to be tools. Finland and Sweden have proceeded clearly further in the systematic utilisation of machine data. The rest of the world will start using the new features after us,” he continues.
More could still be done, however. According to a survey contracted out from Työtehoseura by the Fobia project of the Natural Resources Institute Finland, some 30 per cent of Finnish forest machine entrepreneurs are still of the opinion that machine data is not useful at all.
Seppo Kontteli believes that one reason for this is the fact that the companies are small.
“A solution where the entrepreneur operates one of the company’s two machines is very common. They probably believe that they are sufficiently well aware of their work efficiency based on practical experience.”
Monitoring a plant worth hundreds of thousands
A modern forest machine continuously collects data on the harvesting conditions, the time used, the volume of timber and the condition of the machine itself, among other things. To be able to use this data, the entrepreneur must use an app that is able to process large volumes of data.
According to Seppo Kontteli, even a small company should monitor the data collected by the machine, at least at some level.
“A new forest machine costs hundreds of thousands of euros. It’s unlikely that someone would just erect such an industrial plant in the middle of nowhere and start working. They would also monitor and analyse the machines and the employees operating them.”
Even an experienced entrepreneur will have difficulties in detecting a delay of a couple of seconds when moving from one trunk to the next – which can be clearly seen in the result once it is repeats thousands of times.
“This kind of system will immediate detect it,” Kontteli says.
Monitoring saves battery
Komatsu machines have included monitoring systems since the early 2000s, at which time they focused on monitoring the condition of the machine itself. Launched in 2011, the MaxiFleet cloud service has become more common in Finland, especially since 2015.
“At first, the software products were difficult to use for some people. Nowadays they are so user-centred that it’s no longer a problem,” says Seppo Kontteli, who is the product manager at Komatsu.
In addition to monitoring profitability, systems utilising machine data lower the machine maintenance costs. The system monitors the condition of the machine’s battery, for example, and the entrepreneur can restore the battery with a charger whenever necessary. This will prolong the battery replacement interval by up to several years.
“Someone may consider these minor issues, but the systems enable lots of such solutions,” Kontteli says.
Remote access resolves many problems
During harvesting, even a minor malfunction of the machine may lead to a lengthy, expensive stoppage. In the case of modern data systems, however, many problems can be resolved by means of remote access, without having to personally come to the site. It has been estimated that even up to one-third of all interruptions could be prevented by remote access repairs.
“A problem in the forest company’s data transfer system can be remotely eliminated and a fault in the machine’s software version can also be repaired with a remote update,” Seppo Kontteli says.
Remote access can be realised by a technician of the machine manufacturer or another operator of the company. Remote access also lowers the stress of a single operator on the management of the entire system.
“Operators will have a lower threshold of transferring from a forwarder to a harvester, for instance.”
Text: Ilkka Ritvanen/Cordial Communications