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.

Just Posted

Photos: First Ribfest a hit with lakecity families

Hundreds of people came out for the first-ever Williams Lake Rib Festival

150 Mile Historic School House collecting local historical stories

Did you attend school at the little red shoolhouse or know someone who did?

CASUAL COUNTRY 2019: Chad Webb’s coaching career comes full circle with Williams Lake Blue Fins

“I’m lucky to be here and I plan on staying and coaching in the community.”

CASUAL COUNTRY 2019: Artist, rancher, adventurer Jack Peterson and his Mountain North Art Gallery

Near the bottom of Tatlayoko Hill is Jack Peterson’s Mountain North Art Gallery

COLUMN: Achieving contractor sustainability during uncertain times

With the recent mill closures and market problems, contractors are feeling the impacts

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

How a Kamloops-born man helped put us on the moon

Jim Chamberlin did troubleshooting for the Apollo program, which led to its success

Sexual harassment complaints soaring amid ‘frat boy culture’ in Canada’s airline industry

‘It’s a #MeToo dumpster fire…and it’s exhausting for survivors’

Most Read