“Telemetry and expert systems for the prevention of occupational risks in forest harvest operations” was the project that was unveiled by the Director of Technological Development, Dr. Rolando Hernández Mellado, of the Center for Optics and Photonics, CEFOP-UdeC, of the University of Concepción, together with the Chief Engineer of that unit, Mauricio Arenas Crisostomo, during the meeting “More investment in R&D, more competitiveness for our companies,” organized by CORFO, Sofofa and the Chamber of Commerce of Concepcion.
The objective of this meeting was to publicize the tax benefits for investment in Research and Development, aimed at companies through support tools for business innovation. In that context, our advanced prototype was highlighted, and consists of a network of devices and special software, completely designed and produced by engineers and researchers from CEFOP-UdeC, to reduce accidents in forestry harvesting, a project in use at Forestal Arauco S.A.
This began with the close colaboration between CEFOP-UdeC and Forestal Arauco, and its objective is to improve the security conditions for workers, developing a positioning system in real time, which includes actions of security alerts, upon detecting a threat during forestry harvest. In practice, a network of compact mobile devices makes it possible to pinpoint work teams with precision, and a monitoring center manages the information related to risks, and determines the conditions, or whether they will or will not permit the harvest of lumber.
To the regional director of CORFO, Juan Mardones Alarcón, the project presented by CEFOP-UdeC reflects what the government hopes for in terms of relationships between the productive sector and centers of scientific research in the region.
“For years, the criticism we received at CORFO was that R&D (research and development) financed by the government was not transferrable to companies. The objective of the creation of new research lines, ones especially dedicated to technology transfer, is that the R&D- beyond the tax benefit – will go to specifically improving the productive processes of our companies, contributing significantly to the regional development and to that of the country ‘s” Mardones said.
He added that, as a State, an ecosystem should exist that allows R&D to increase and reach the numbers that OECD countries have, where 70% of investment is private and 30% comes from the State, unlike Chile. “We must move from an economy of raw materials to one of knowledge, adding value and generating exportable products. And that is why we selected the CEFOP-UdeC project to present, because it meets all the conditions that point to the direct internalization of technology to the improvement of processes and the corporation, through a logic of smart specialization, focusing resources towards productive sectors of high potential, which includes timber forestry.”
For his part, Dr. Rolando Hernández, pointed out that this project is consistent with the aims of the Center for Optics and Photonics – to develop high level applied science that is relevant to the needs of industry. “For this, we begin by the detection of a specific problem, and develop a concrete solution through a strong and permanent interaction with the company. The project has already required an investment of the order of $330 million pesos, and what comes now is the scaling stage. It is important to stress that this is a unique product in the world, adapted to the Chilean reality, and to the idiosyncrasies of our workers – a suit tailored to fit, one could say,” he added.
The engineer in charge of the project, Mauricio Arenas, explained to attendees the technical details of the operation, and its components– completely designed, developed and manufactured by the laboratory of remote sensing technologies and telemetry of CEFOP-UdeC, including specialized software for its administration – noting that the project has been divided into five stages, three of which, Forestal Arauco S.A. has agreed to tax exemption because CEFOP-UdeC is an institution recognized by CORFO.
“The project presented by CEFOP-UdeC is an excellent example of what the University expects from work that our research centers are currently doing in relationships with regional companies; delivering solutions to concrete problems, and improving the operational capacity,” said Dr. Claudio Valdovinos Zargés, the Director of Development and Innovation of the University of Concepción.