By poplar request, and with WSRI Board approval, WSRI and the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement (NCASI) have agreed to co-sponsor a new research project through Auburn University by Dr. Tom Gallagher and Dr. Mathew Smidt on “Factors Affecting Fuel Consumption and Harvesting Cost.” As fuel costs rise, this Project’s data will grow dramatically in value.
A better understanding of the factors affecting fuel consumption and cost correlated to such factors as harvest intensity, harvest systems and equipment types, tract size, piece size, and terrain—and the relative importance of those factors—could provide a basis for land managers as well as loggers to make cost-effective and environmentally sound decisions.
Machine time can be used as a proxy for many of the expenses a harvesting operation incurs, such as consumables, capital, and labor. Not only is fuel a significant component of consumable cost itself, but petroleum prices, directly and indirectly, also influence other consumable costs. At the fundamental level, the attributes that affect the amount of engine power and machine time that are needed to produce a ton of wood at roadside include mechanization, the degree of processing, optimization of the transportation system, and the terrain. At a practical level, the features that reflect those attributes include machine size, regional location, harvest intensity, system type, tract size, piece size, terrain, harvest planning, and merchandising requirements. Finally, contractor and operator efficiency and machine choices have considerable effect on machine time and fuel consumption per ton.
Project deliverables will include a report outlining the variables that impact fuel consumption and the subsequent impact on harvesting cost. The report will propose methods to minimize the impacts of practices that increase fuel consumption. As usual, the real value will depend on the implementation and use of the data.
This past May’s In-Woods Expo, which FRA co-sponsored along with WSRI member Arkansas Timber Producers Association, provided a wonderful opportunity to see the latest equipment up close and in action. WSRI was on the scene, with an informational table showing examples of WSRI research Reports, consistent with our efforts to bring more visibility to the potentially valuable data available to supply chain participants.
Please contact me for information about joining WSRI, as well as about obtaining any of the 18 completed projects. And be sure to visit www.wsri.org.
WSRI Executive Director