Through the Forestry 4.0 program, FPInnovations seeks to bring Internet access to harvest teams to improve the connectivity of forestry operations. To this end, a local cellular network was set up in forestry operations over a three-week period in order to contextualize the benefits, the constraints to deployment and the costs. FPInnovations and Resolute Forest Products commissioned Ambra Solutions to design a cellular network and the leasing of the equipment.
By using a 30 m. high self-deploying tower in the centre of the cutting area, 53% of the cut blocks were initially connected to the Internet. Combined with a 9 m. mobile tower whose function is to spread the signal around a service truck, the actual coverage is slightly flexible. Moreover, comparative tests show that a commercial amplifier significantly improves signal reception. By optimizing the bandwidth and the signal propagation mode as required, a download speed of 2 Mb/s was recorded at 9 km. from the source. This temporary deployment made it possible to record capital costs and operating expenses such as energy consumption, labour, etc. In an annual supply scenario for a typical sawmill, the cost of connectivity to harvesting teams is estimated between $0.29 and $1.01 per m3 harvested.
Although this technology offers advantages in terms of worker safety and optimizes the harvest, the limitations involved show that this technology is not suitable for all forestry operations in the country. Very isolated or dispersed operations will have to wait for the commercialization of other technologies such as low-orbit satellite constellations in low orbit before implementing a reasonably priced solution