Advanced positioning system minimizes risks at forestry work

Mauricio Arenas, Development engineer in charge of the project, and the Director of Technology Development from CEFOP, Dr. Rolando Hernández, explained to the audience the objects, features and technical aspects of the prototype.It is a network of specialized devices, completely designed and produced by development engineers and researchers from The University of Concepción, which reduces accidents in this productive activity.

Wednesday November 5, a demonstration of the prototype “Telemetry and Expert System for Occupational Risks Prevention in Forest Crop Labors” developed for Bosques Arauco S.A., by researchers at the Center for Optics and Photonics, CEFOP, from Universidad de Concepción, under the leadership of its director of Technology Development, Dr. Rolando Hernández Mellado.

This risk prevention system in forestry originated in close collaboration between CEFOP and that company, and aims to improve workers security, developing a real time positioning system, which includes action alerts when a threat is detected during harvesting work. In practice, a network of compact mobile devices can locate work equipment with high precision, and a monitoring central manages information relating to risks and determines the conditions or whether or not tasks of extraction are performed.

The main devices that make up the network are: a processing station, which supports the software specially developed by CEFOP, to manage the network; a communications base that is installed in the tower logging and communicating to the processing station with mobile devices, allowing to know, in real time, the exact location of operators and vehicles involved in harvesting work station; risk areas activators, which is installed on the logging line, sending signals about the movement of the load, and automatically re-defining risk areas; an electromechanical device called “hard barrier” which-acting directly under the accelerator pedal of tower- stops its operation if a worker gets in risk areas, reducing or interrupting traction and logs transported; mobile computer devices send real-time information about the location of vehicles and workers present at the site. In people case, these devices are installed on the back of their helmets.

César Valenzuela, risk prevention department head of the forestry company, stressed the importance of the prototype in reducing accidents at work. “For us as Forestal Celco, this initiative has helped us to control where people are. For now, the tower has blind spots, and we had radio communication and personnel credibility only. Normally accidents occurred because estroberos lied on your location. Today, with the system of the hard barrier to us allows us to know where they are actually located and direct communication that occurs between the tower operator with estroberos. For us, it would be a very useful tool for all our work towers “said the executive.

One of the great available advantages of the device is that is friendly to the staff. “We had enough training. It is a great system that allows saving more lives and helped us overcome all these risks we had before. It is great that the machine automatically locks and thus the estrobero cannot commit an accident. So it is called transradial to be removed and the procedure continues. I had no problem to learn to use it, I set the computer and easily operate, it is simple and safe”, said tower operator, Oscar Anabalón.

Currently a work plan is already established with Bosques Arauco S.A., towards the system internationalization, explained Mauricio Arenas Crisóstomo, chief engineer of the project.

For its part, CEFOP director of technology development, Rolando Hernández, stressed the importance of this product in practice. “For us as Universidad de Concepción, it is a source of great pride to be developing this project, along with Bosques Arauco S.A., that has involved  several years work, we have been perfecting, collecting suggestions from people who work at forest site, and we ourselves also detected some qualities that are susceptible to be improved. Therefore, it is very important to us, because, as a university, we are not very used to seeing how it applies in the field, what we developed in the laboratory”, the researcher emphasized.

This practical demonstration of CEFOP product was attended by leading figures of Arauco group, headed by prominent businessman Roberto Angelini, who highlighted the high effectiveness of the prototype, in addition to its originality, and also noting the intention to produce it on a larger scale, for a more important presence in the company forestry operations.

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