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NZ wins with robotic scaling machine for forestry

A world-first robotic innovation that scans and measures export logs on trucks has landed its Kiwi developers on the 2020 RBR50, Robotics Business Review’s prestigious global list recognising the 50 most innovative and transformative robotics companies of the year. Source: Timberbiz

Tauranga-based agricultural robotics and automation company Robotics Plus has been named a Global Top 50 Robotics Company for its industry-changing Robotic Scaling Machine (RSM) which automates the accurate volumetric measurement (scaling) of logs on trucks and trailers, replacing manual measurement.

The 2020 RBR50 innovation awards recognises forward-thinking companies and the original, impactful solutions they have created. RBR50 is also a critical measure of robotics sector growth. RBR50 winners were based in the US, Canada, China, Denmark, Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan and South Korea. Robotics Plus was the only New Zealand company named on the list.

Commercially launched in June 2019, Robotics Plus’ technology was developed in collaboration with Mount Maunganui-based ISO Limited, which commissioned the first RSM for its facility at the Port of Tauranga and has had it in operation since November 2018.

ISO now has eight robots installed across the North Island scaling more than 25% of New Zealand’s 20 million cubic metres of annual log exports. Further installations are planned around the country in 2020.
Dr Alistair Scarfe, Co-Founder and CTO of Robotics Plus, led the RSM technology development.

Paul Cameron, CEO of ISO said that the automated process is already having a significant impact as it is a safer, efficient and more productive system than the previous manual system used throughout the world, which requires people to hand scan the logs by climbing between trucks and trailers.

“The Robotic Scaling Machine can automatically scan logs on a truck in three to four minutes, which compares up to 40 minutes for manual measurement using a ruler. Importantly, it also eliminates exposure to hazards and moves those people into a safer environment and into more skilled roles.”

Mr Cameron says ISO will continue to invest in the robotic technology as it has a clear payback for the company as well as the forestry industry.

“The forestry industry globally can benefit enormously from automation. The scaling of logs is traditionally a slow, sometimes dangerous, manual process – so it was well suited to being automated.  Due to the success and reliability of the RSM, we’re currently exploring a range of international markets including the US, Canada, South America and Europe,” Steve Saunders, Co-Founder and Chairman of Robotics Plus, said.