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Tobias Pahlberg
Tobias Pahlberg has taken a doctorate in Wood Science and Engineering. Photo: Erica Lång. View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Improved traceability in sawmills increases competitiveness

Published: 27 October 2017

Using cameras, a type of wood fingerprint can be acquired for logs and boards in sawmills. The individual products can then be tracked throughout the manufacturing process to improve the production processes. Several recognition methods are presented in a new doctoral thesis at Luleå University of Technology.

– Sawmills want to be able to connect all the information collected from the raw material, all the way from the forest to the finished product. Wood fingerprint recognition enables traceability of good and bad raw materials throughout the chain and can be used to improve sub-processes such as sawing, drying and planing, says Tobias Pahlberg, who now finishes his doctorate in Wood Science and Engineering at Luleå University of Technology.

Continuous feedback

The thesis investigates methods for recognizing and tracking, for example, a board through a sawmill. Knots, annual rings and other visible features on sawn wood surfaces can all be used for recognition. The purpose of the tracking is to get continuous feedback for each individual wood product.

– As long as there are a few distinct features on the surface of a sawn wood product, it can very likely be recognized, even after processing. The methods can be used to keep track of sawn wood products despite a disorganized flow, both for instant feedback but also for a more long-term analysis of the processes. It is also possible to combine methods to obtain an even higher recognition rate, says Tobias Pahlberg.

The research has been funded through the EU FP7 project Hol-i-Wood Patching Robot, as well as Vinnova. Collaborators are MiCROTEC, SPRINGER, LIP-BLELE, TTTech, TU Vienna, TU Munich, SAAB Dynamics, CIND, SDC/VMU and RISE.