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AFM Harvester

February 5, 2009

The device in this video is an AFM Harvester and it made me so excited:

Pure, uncut(!) awesome.  The background music makes me want to ride to the hills and render wide swaths of forested lands into building materials, paper, toothpicks, and easily farmed land.

THINGS I LIKE:

  • This thing does, in about 20 seconds, what I imagine would take a skilled human at least 6 hours to do (though I’ll grant that those “Great American Lumberjack” guys could probably prove me wrong in that time estimate for meat-workers.  nevertheless, their brawn could never compete with the brains behind this thing.).  The amount of hard labor which this device saves people from–freaking awesome.
  • Imagine all the potential “input variables” which these designers had to account for when designing the machine.  A range of trunk diameters, wood toughnesses, tree heights and weights, different size limbs/different shaped canopies, how the falling tree will interact with its densely wooded surroundings.  They had to design for a level of robustness which could tolerate a spectrum of all of these things for a reasonable service interval and product lifetime, appropriate to a piece of “heavy equipment.”
  • Powered by hydraulics of the platform machine–no additional fueling operations.
  • It has a brain!!  From their website: “The AFM harvester head fells the tree with a chains[sic] saw, delimbs it and cross-cuts it to exact log lengths. It is usually equipped with a measuring system which allows controlling the cross-cutting process by dividing and optimizing the stem effectively using intelligent prognosis.

THINGS I DON’T LIKE:

  •  Mounting the machine on the end of a multi-jointed arm, as it is on this excavator, at first seems a rather unwieldy and inefficent platform.  The benefit is that the arm allows many trees in the vehicle’ proximity to be reached–minimizing time required to reposition the vehicle.  The cost is: time spent waiting for the arm and excavator to swing into place. 
  • –> I suspect that, given the bumpy terrain which the platform has to operate in and the random placement of trees, the current “slow-moving platform/articulated arm design” will make more sense.  In such terrain, it may be more efficient to have a device which can easily be moved to the trees from the platform, as opposed to the device and the platform moving to the tree. 
  • That said, an accelerometer-based, PID controlled serohydraulic stabilizing mechanism might be able to minimize the time which the device spends swinging around in the air. 
  • To further minimize reliance on the operator, tree targeting and acquisition sensor control systems could be incorporated.
  • It can only fell trees in one direction efficiently (to the right of the excavator, in that video).  I may be wrong about this: the excavator could pivot to allow the delimbed tree to exit the device to the left.

More later!

– JMK

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