COLUMNS: The downside of being more efficient

COLUMNS: The downside of being more efficient

Some recent articles about a number of technical improvements in the logging and transport sectors show a familiar trend.

Technical improvements in the forest sector often means fewer jobs, usually in the blue collar tech sectors. For example, a new approach to dealing with the difficulty of getting skilled truck drivers is “Truck Platooning,” which is already legal in some U.S. states (Tennessee and Georgia) and is undergoing tests in Quebec.

Truck platooning is where the lead truck has a driver but the trucks following are driverless because they are linked by a computer system which maintains the required distance to the lead vehicle by controlling the speed and braking. The system also contains a dedicated radio communication system, GPS system as well as radar which according to the developers gives the following truck a faster and safer response than a driver could.

While I could see this working on the flat straight highways, I would have some concerns about a row of driverless loaded logging trucks coming down the switch backs on Highway 20.

READ MORE: Plenty of areas to study to create fire breaks

Significant changes are also taking place in the logging industry as discussed in a number of articles in the recent December – January issue of the Logging and Sawmilling Journal. In one article Tony Kryzanowski describes how the “easy” wood has been disappearing from Canadian commercial forests which has left prime timber on steep slopes or muddy ground where it is unsafe and usually uneconomical to log.

A number of companies have been making greater use of winch-assisted systems on skidders and wood processors which results in less damage, an extended season and safer working conditions ending up with a win- win for both loggers and the environment.

A new mobile grapple yarder system has been replacing the old tower yarders.

A camera on the grapple allows the operator to pick up logs without choker setters on the steep dangerous ground. The claim is that these new systems which have been developed and tested in New Zealand allow work on steep slopes, even in wet and snow conditions with higher worker productivity and improved safety.

The mobile grapple yarder allows companies to deliver twice as many logs per day with fewer employees. The jobs lost were very demanding and dangerous, as choker setters were required to crawl over logs and stumps on steep slopes in adverse weather conditions along with the danger of logs suspended over head. As the author points out it is important to ensure rates are discussed and negotiated with company clients in advance of using these new more profitable systems so that financial benefits flow in both directions — to the forest companies and the loggers.

While most of the steep slope logging has been at the coast one article was about using a winch assisted system on steep slopes in the interior of the province.

READ MORE: Fast growing hybrid hardwoods could help in future biomass plants

While I can appreciate that companies have to make investments in technology to stay competitive, which often means the loss of some jobs, there was some encouragement from articles in the same journal about jobs being created through a new community forest, a value added investment, as well as jobs created through the use of roadside logging material.

Jim Hilton is a professional agrologist and forester who has lived and worked in the Cariboo Chilcotin for the past 40 years. Now retired, Hilton still volunteers his skills with local community forests organizations.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

First Journey Trails CEO Thomas Schoen (from left), Jimco Services’ James Doerfling, Williams Lake First Nation Chief Willie Sellars and Sugar Cane Archaeology’s Marvin Bob break ground on a new mountain biking trail network project at WLFN. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
WATCH: Williams Lake First Nation breaks ground on multi-use bike trail project

Phase one of the project will see the construction of a 1,750-metre hiking and biking trail

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)
Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

Kira Stowell rode her way to first place in the senior pole bending event at the combined High School Rodeo in Quesnel in the only event of 2020. All regional high school events have been cancelled, although there are still hopes for provincials. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
High school rodeo events cancelled

Rodeos were planned for Williams Lake and Quesnel in early May

The COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Thompson Rivers University Williams Lake campus is closed April 22, 23, Interior Health confirmed. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake COVID-19 vaccine community clinic closed April 22, 23

Interior Health said closure comes as all appointments caught up, or rescheduled earlier

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Most Read