Log scalers and data checkers always need to know the exact board feet in inventory as well as the board feet out the door. Accuracy helps them monitor yield and maximize sawmill operations effectively. As logs are removed from a deck and processed by the mill, the decks need to be measured on a regular basis to accurately account for the remaining volume.
Typically, this process takes two people verifying distances and heights with a tape wheel and height rod. It takes time and when dealing with uneven ground, water, and other obstacles, using conventional measurement tools makes the results unreliable. It is also extremely unsafe when occupying areas in close proximity to the log deck.
Because Laser Technology, Inc. (LTI) is the manufacturer of the TruPulse series, the most popular professional-grade, handheld laser rangefinders in the world, John Calkins, a log scaler for Simpson Lumber Co., approached them with the hope that they could create a better solution that is safer, easier and repeatable. The challenge was to develop an intuitive software program that can use the laser’s distance, inclination, and angle measurements to calculate values that make sense specifically to the logging industry.
“They heard me loud and clear, said John Calkins. “They (LTI) stepped up to the plate and hit a home run with this.” LTI’s Log Deck software converts the length and width measurements of the deck along with the data about log species, length, and diameter into an accurate assessment of volume in board feet. It also accounts for log decks that are not closed by allowing the users to enter in specific factors about certain types of decks. The software is capable of producing these calculations in the field, so there is no need for an Excel analysis back at the office. Log Deck runs on Juniper System’s Allegro as well as other QVGA and/or VGA data collectors and is able to accept measurements from the TruPulse with a serial port or via Bluetooth®. LTI’s TruPulse lasers and Log Deck software are also successfully being used by Atterbury Consultants. They are an authorized LTI dealer and also provide volume services and training for local pulp and paper mills in the Oregon and Washington area.
LTI offers a complete line of TruPulse models that are able to address different needs from different users. The TruPulse 360B model has Bluetooth and a built-in compass, making it capable of generating all the values needed for log deck volumes. The compass does need to be calibrated, but that can be done in less than 2 minutes and is a simple field routine. It produces +/- 1 ft. distance accuracy, 0.25 degree inclination accuracy, and 1 degree azimuth accuracy. The TruPulse 360R has the same specifications but is enclosed in a rugged and waterproof housing to better withstand harsh conditions and more rigorous use. LTI just recently released the TruPulse 200X that comes in the same rugged housing as the 360R model but can achieve +/-4 cm distance accuracy and 0.1 deg inclination accuracy. The 200X also has Bluetooth and integrates well with LTI’s TruAngle, a horizontal angle encoder that completes the 3D measurement when combined with the laser’s distance and inclination data. This product combination offers the best accuracy possible and is unaffected by local magnetic interference, so there is no limitation as to where you can operate the equipment. Regardless of what product combination scalers choose, LTI’s easy to use system only requires one operator and can feasibly turn an annual or quarterly log deck inventory check into a weekly task.