Maximising net value recovery


  • Mechanised processors convert tree stems into logs. How efficiently they do this has a huge bearing on forest profitability
  • Overseas audits of the performance of mechanised processors show that recovery rates range from 35 – 99% of potential value. The average is a little over 80%.
  • Processors operated by New Zealand forest contractors have a similar range of performance. Because the poor performers are costing forest growers dearly, it is essential to find ways to lift their recovery rates so the average gets closer to the ideal 100%
  • Because mechanised operations are complex man-machine systems, both the operator and the machine need to be studied in order to identify ways to maximise net value recovery 

Potential gains

Each 5% improvement in average gross value recovery would be worth about $95 million a year to New Zealand forest owners.


Parallel research projects were initiated in Australia and New Zealand in 2004 to (a) determine the impact of optimising computers on gross value recovery and (b) determine the impact of production speed on human decision making and net value recovery.

The total cost of the research was in the order of $190K (not including in-kind contributions by forest companies and harvesting contractors).


Optimising computers on processors increased gross value recovery by an average of 12% compared with processors with no optimising computers.

Increasing production speed for a top performing operator increased net value recovery by up to 17%.

The production speed result is considered to be atypical, however. Other industries show increasing error rates with increasing production speed.

The operator was considered to be a “stress lover” and was not affected by production speed. Selection of the right operators could be expected to lead to increases in net value.


Research identified that significant potential gains in net value recovery are possible through selection of the right equipment and right operators. More research is needed on tools to aid selection of operators that can achieve very high net value recovery performance.

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