Originally introduced in 2015, Mabma’s GPV system uses advanced camera-laser technology to precisely measure the volume of timber piles as they journey from the dense Swedish forests to sawmills and pulp mills. Our GPV system is at the starting line of an AI-driven transformation with unmatched precision, efficiency, and quality in sight.
Only three percent of Sweden’s 41 million hectares of land is made of urban areas, and a mere seven percent is dedicated to agriculture. A further 22 percent falls under the quite uninformative classification of ”Other land”. This leaves a staggering 68 percent of Sweden’s land area covered by dense forests, spanning nearly 28 million hectares¹ — an area that could be hard to imagine.
Sweden stands strong as one of the world’s largest and most significant exporters of timber products, alongside global giants such as Canada and the United States of America². According to gathered data from the Swedish Forest Agency, the net volume (m³sub)∗, referring to the harvested volume of tree trunks utilized either wholly or partially in sawmills or pulp mills, was an impressive 77.1 million m³sub in 2021³. Within this extensive amount of timber harvest, our eight GPV systems accurately measure over 6 million m³sub, and with forthcoming installations we are predicting to nearly double this figure within a few years. Mabema’s GPV is a fully automated system based on image processing, designed to measure the volume of timber stacks transported on trucks from the forests to sawmills or pulp mills. Our first GPV system was put into operation back in 2015.
The measurement process includes six camera-laser pairs, a color line scan camera, and five standard color cameras thoroughly positioned within a 30-meter-long tent. Upon arrival the truck driver registers their piles via a screen positioned in front of the tent. Subsequently, the truck passes through the tent at a controlled speed of maximum 5 kilometers per hour. It is while the truck transports the piles through the tent that the volume measurement takes place. The six camera-laser pairs collectively capture an astonishing 3000 images per second which are then stitched together to a comprehensive 3D image by the GPV system software.
The GPV system provides measurement results that include solid wood volume over and under bark (including height, length, and width) and diameter distribution within the piles. Diameter distribution refers to determining how many of the logs in the timber piles fall within the pre-defined diameter ranges. This information allows sawmills and pulp mills to ascertain the optimal use of the timber in the pile. Logs within specific diameter ranges may be earmarked for distinct processing purposes, for instance logs within a smaller diameter range are not suitable for wide plank production.
Since the initial installation in 2015, our GPV system has undergone a few important updates. Among these is the implementation of color cameras that ensured an entirely new level of accessibility. Images captured by these cameras are sent to a Biometria remote center, precluding the need for manual evaluations of the timber stacks by personnel on-site. While the core volume measurement technology has remained rather unaltered, new 3D cameras with a larger field of view are presently being integrated into the system with the first installation set to occur at Setra’s facility in Skinnskatteberg during the fall. The new more modern 3D cameras will increase the accuracy of our volume measurement and result in better images for the manual controls.
To uphold the reliability of our measurement outcomes, random quality tests are undertaken by Biometria. These involve manual measurement of each log within the stack to yield precise volume and diameter distribution data. Impressively, when comparing the results of the random quality tests with the GPV system’s outcomes, there is a mean error of 0-1 percent. Our GPV system work 24/7 with very few stops and at the biggest sites we measure over 10.000 stacks every month.
Last spring, we initiated a project to research whether we can further enhance our GPV system with the help of AI. After an exciting spring and summer, AI consultant and Postdoc Micael Karlberg and our GPV team, have been able to produce results with greater accuracy than before. Specifically, during this project Micael has focused on exploring whether the images from the color cameras, which currently are only used by Biometria for assessment, can be useful when determining diameter distribution in the GPV system.
The future paves the way for AI to be implemented into more parts of the GPV system. Among the frontiers under consideration for future development projects lies the assessment of timber components designated as waste. In the forestry industry, waste refers to those parts of logs that are unsuitable for processing by sawmills or pulp mills, owing to factors such as irregular roots, log rot, unfavorable shape, and other similar considerations. Implementing this function to our GPV system would eliminate the need of manual work for personnel at Biometria and would lead to the first ever fully automated system for volume measurement of timber piles.
“There is no definite end to industry automation in general. You could basically automate endlessly.” says Micael Karlberg. At Mabema we believe the relationship between AI technology and the timber industry in Sweden will continue to evolve and with GPV, we want to be at the forefront of that evolution.
∗The term m3sub meaning ”solid cubic meter under bark” specifying the volume of timber excluding bark and tops.