Finnish Forest Research Institute  Metla

Media release 11.05 2005

Vision 2020 in forest technology:
Manufacture of forest machinery in Finland will increase

The manufacture of forest machinery can double in Finland and 1000 – 2000 new jobs should be created by the year 2020. The increase in jobs will be most noticeable in Eastern Finland. The global production of purpose built forest machinery in 2020 is likely to be 6000–8000 machines, of which 4000–5000 will be manufactured in Finland. This manufacturing volume corresponds to an annual production of 120 000 medium-priced cars. To realize the vision, strong research and development is needed in technology transfer to new market areas especially to Russia and South America. In addition, improvement of machine operator training and development of man machine interface and semi automated machines must be solved to reach the vision. Development of forest machine markets depends also on the overall success and development of the forest sector.

A working report called ”Vision and roadmap 2020 in forest technology” has been published on the Internet by Metla. The aim of the Vision and roadmap in forest technology project was to outline a vision of the forest technology industry and R&D organisations about the current status and future of the field by collecting their expectations both from the point of view of machine manufacture and specialist know-how. As a result, a roadmap was created of the activities that are required in order to realize the vision. The vision is mainly based on potential harvesting volumes and interviews with key players in the field. The report will support decision making as to whether there is a need to initiate a separate R&D programme for forest technology.

In conventional wood processing and harvesting the number of jobs has continuously decreased in Finland, whereas in forest machinery manufacturing it has increased. Harvesting technology is being reorganized in Europe and elsewhere in the world, too: the tree-length method, which is still used to harvest more than half of the world’s roundwood, is being replaced by the cut-to-length method. As a result of the change, the Finnish forest technology market is growing both in terms of net turnover and job creation. Concerning the Finnish forest technology market, the key issue is whether we can maintain our position as the leading machine supplier in the world. A threatening factor is the transfer of know-how and machine construction to countries offering cheaper manufacturing. In addition, availability of skilled forest machine operators may slow down the positive development.

The total global market for forest machinery in 2020 will comprise 6000-8000 machines, of which 4000-6000 could represent cut-to-length machines. If the logging business in Europe and Russia rapidly becomes mechanised and if the marketing takeover in South and North America is successful, the annual volume may rise as high as 6000 machines. The growth potential is immense, and a R&D programme could be used to support the realization of this potential. Many innovations of technology would be useful also in the forest technology sector, but many things need to be improved to make their applications cost-effective in the forest environment. Machine concepts and technology must be developed and the needs of different market areas must be taken into consideration. Automation is in a key position in this development.

The business field was studied on a global scale, yet the focus was on Europe, Russia, and North America. As for harvesting machinery, the aim was to clarify specifically the current status and future potential of the cut-to-length method machinery manufactured in Finland. The companies and specialists selected for interview were mainly Finnish. Exact profitability calculations were not made in the survey, the aim being rather to give a realistic estimate of future roundwood harvesting volumes and the type of machinery that will be needed, particularly for harvesting industrial roundwood and the energy fraction.

The results of the programme were introduced to stakeholders in a seminar in Joensuu held on May 11, 2005.

The report was written by Metla’s employees and Professor Arto Visala from the Helsinki University of Technology (HUT). The National Technology Agency Tekes has financed part of the research programme.

Original paper in Finnish: Asikainen, Antti, Ala-Fossi, Antti, Visala, Arto & Pulkkinen, Päivi. 2005. Metsäteknologiasektorin visio ja tiekartta vuoteen 2020. Metlan työraportteja 8. (Vision and roadmap 2020 in forest technology. Metla’s working reports 8. 90 pages + appendices)

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