It is one of the oldest jobs and management areas: The forest. It has thus far rarely been connected with modern IT technology. There are now a wide range of application possibilities for mobile computing. However, difficult conditions prevail in the forest for IT equipment: The technology is exposed to wind and weather, shocks and vibrations as well as working with heavy machinery and hard materials. However, foresters and lumbermen have long been able to take care of traditional tasks in forestry while mobile with tablets and the like. So-called rugged devices, in particular rugged computers, make it possible.
Stay on the right track: GPS navigation with a rugged tablet
The forester is on an inspection drive in a Jeep while a large timber transporter is laboring through the forest to pick up the next delivery. The roads are bumpy. The driver and his equipment must withstand shocks, vibrations and forces. The conditions make it difficult to navigate: This is exactly where a reliable navigation system is desirable. This option is provided by mobile technology.
Whether as a tablet, laptop or smartphone: Thanks to the robust devices, driving and properly navigating using GPS can now also be combined under the special conditions in the forest. The mobile navigation system detects passable forest paths, is used for route guidance in difficult terrain or displays the next turning possibility for large vehicles. Orientation with the corresponding technology is therefore no longer a problem. Originally developed for use in the military sector, the rugged technology is extremely robust and always withstands the stresses caused by the forest paths. With this technical support, foresters and lumbermen are always able to accurately locate the next site of application and quickly respond to changing destination information.
Particularly helpful: the area in a vest pocket size. The use of geographic information systems (GIS) on the mobile devices also enables the measurement and digital management of the spatial data of each territory. Once the data is recorded, it is therefore always digitally available for analysis, processing, planning or for presentation purposes. All of the important geo-information about the forester's area is therefore always available to the forester anywhere.
For an optimal overview: Mobile IT in the areas of tree control and inventory
Which trees are present in what numbers and what condition are they in? How old are they and how is their growth? What condition are the bark, trunk and crown of the tree in? What damage has the bark beetle done? Are there diseases or damage from lightning strikes? The inspection of the trees and the overview of the tree population in the area are key tasks of forestry activity. Earlier, a camera, pen and plenty of paper was needed for documentation - those days are gone. Mobile computing provides a flexible all-in-one solution for this important area of forestry and therefore allows for savings of a great deal of time, paper and of course wood. Documentation and photographs of tree populations and conditions are always possible anywhere thanks to mobile computing. The photographs taken can be immediately linked with the location coordinates of the photographed tree and the result of the inspection. Any information can be recorded photographically or set down in writing and digitally managed. All of the data about the area population is therefore always flexibly available in its current state. The inspections and inventories are therefore integrated into ongoing digital processes. Your time coordination is significantly simplified by specifying and saving the next inspection date already during an inspection process. The development of the trees and the population is therefore simply, compactly and clearly documented over a longer period of time.
The use of RFID technology (radio-frequency identification) proves to be particularly convenient. Using a reader and the transponder, the individual data of a tree can be stored, updated and read at the tree itself. It therefore obtains its own identity card as it were by means of flexible technology and the work of the forester is facilitated considerably.
Locating wood piles by mobile computing
Wood piles are scattered throughout the forest. Keeping track of the stock of stored wood and the logistical organization of transport can be a challenge here that can be much more easily managed with computer support.
The overview of the stored inventory can always be updated using mobile technology. The forester can always look at the pictures on his mobile device to see which wood is in stock in which wood pile. He therefore keeps track of the stored wood reserves and can inform potential customers about the availability of sought-after wood types.
The question of what can be picked up where is easily answered by linking images and using positioning on the digital map. The use of mobile computer technology allows for the exact location of the deposits and therefore facilitates the collection of wood. Using the coordinates and mobile navigation, the transport company can easily find its way to the wood pile. With mobile inventory management, no wood theft goes unnoticed. The stored photos of all inventory document any unwanted change.
IT and forestry - an ideal combination
The application possibilities of modern mobile computing technologies in forestry are versatile and the demands on the equipment are high. Different companies have now developed a complete range of products, optionally available with an Android or Windows operating system. A suitable solution can therefore certainly be found depending on the needs of the customer and for integration into the existing IT infrastructure.
Rugged tablets, laptops and smartphones facilitate the work in the forest considerably. The devices are available in different sizes and weight classes. Now there are even robust docking stations that allow for the attachment of devices in Jeeps and trucks. Their special advantage: The connector between the tablet and docking station is protected against the ingress of water. This means that the devices can be ideally housed and used in open vehicles.
Advantages of the robust design
The design of the devices ensures that they will work flawlessly even under extreme conditions. They correspond to current military standards, are impact and vibration resistant, particularly hardened and shock-resistant, protected against water and dust, resistant to extreme temperatures and also withstand falls from heights of up to 1.80 meters unscathed. The displays ensure good readability, even in direct sunlight. The SSD drives ensure the functioning of data processing in everyday forestry work. Wi-Fi and GPS provide maximum mobility while working with rugged computers. Working with geographic information systems has also been proven, including with the companies ESRI (ArcGIS) and Intergraph (GeoMedia). The use of mobile IT in forestry is therefore a real benefit for all those involved.