Boosting terminal-based energy wood value chains

The four-year BEST program has reached its midway point this spring. One of the four work packages of the program concentrates on significant improvements in the resource and cost efficiency of bioenergy supply chains. In this work package, Metsäteho has studied the adaptation of supply chains and their processes to a situation where biomass travels through a biomass terminal before reaching its final destination. This means that material handling steps currently done in the forest or roadside storages will take place in the terminals. The typical processes inside the terminals are chipping, crushing and sorting, and for stump biomass possibly also sieving.

One of the research themes has been compression of material for forest or long-distance transport in order to increase the payload. In the harvesting stage, this issue was tackled by studying the latest Fixteri FX15a baler. It is the third model whose predecessors have been lacking in their cost competitiveness. The productivities obtained in this study are becoming competitive with the common harvesting methods. In addition, work models were created to enhance the productivity of harvesting young forests and first thinnings. A robust harvesting method where harvesting pathways are opened around the machine instead of selecting single trees was studied. It was concluded that this method increases the productivity of the work and decreases the strain experienced by the driver.

The compression of forest side streams and stumps was studied with a compression machine prototype. When long distance loads were compressed, it became evident that there is a considerable potential for better efficiency, especially after the new vehicle weight regulations came into effect. The maximum loads enabled by these new limits were calculated and limiting factors in the transport of various biomasses assessed.

The work on measurement technologies in bioenergy supply chains began with a state of the art report summarizing current moisture measurement technologies and their opportunities and challenges. Additionally, the MWh roadmap described methods for determining energy content and heat value in various parts of the supply chain from the forest road side to the plant. The roadmap also paved the way for determining measurement methods and needs in the terminal concepts.

The needs and tools for information management were studied based on the papiNet standard used in wood logistics. The aim in the later stage of BEST is to describe the requirements for functions and data content in an open electronic data management and transfer system and to test the data transfer in a terminal-based supply chain. The key issue is to define the data borders of the systems of different partners in the value chain and especially to convey data produced by measurement systems in a standardized way. The information management needs are affected by the chosen terminal concept, need for terminal operations management and the functionalities of the information systems of the supply chain partners.

The midway results of Metsäteho’s BEST research are presented in the following publications:

Additional reports in Finnish:

More information: Research scientist Heikki Ovaskainen, Metsäteho Oy, heikki.ovaskainen(at)metsateho.fi

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