Independent IT expert Igor Hornák, (CEO Factory For Solutions, Oracle partner) made a small comparative analysis of the control systems over the movement of trucks with forest that are intensely discussed in Romania today.
The illegal logging problem is highly topical in Romania and the forest industry specialists and environmental organizations activists think that there is a way to combat this criminal activity in the trucks carrying wood tracking that will control them from the felling area to the processing plants.
The idea based on GPS control is not a brand new at all, but its implementation in Romania has its own national characteristics.
Let’s start with systems that are already in use. We are talking about Wood Inspector (Inspectorul Padurii) and Forest Radar. Basically, the Wood Inspector is the graphical display of the geo-referenced data of the Wood Tracking System (aka Forest Radar). One of the most used function is the display of the Avizes (special waybills that are necessary for timber transports) on inspectorulpadurii.ro.
Here’s the process compulsory for each timber transport in Romania (already now): before loaded truck with timber can depart, the seller has to register the load in the Wood Tracking application on mobile device (smartphone or tablet). This registration includes basic data, such as the license plate, the Aviz-Number, the volume, and the APV-Number (in case of transports directly from the forest) which is transmitted to a central server (SUMAL).
Unfortunately this kind of public systems (SUMAL, Inspectorul Padurii, Wood Tracker) has very serious disadvantages. For example, the user has no way to verify if those coordinates registered by SUMAL system are even accurate. It is happening because only the mobile device’s GPS coordinates are registered. This does not necessarily mean that the truck with the load is at the same place. It would be possible that the device is at another place – therefore faking false GPS coordinates whereas the truck loads the timber from another site. Since the waybill does not clearly indicate the place of departure (in case of deliveries from the forest only the administration unit -Ocolul Silvic) for the authorities it is not possible to verify if the mobile device really was at the loading site or only in relative proximity – or even much further away. Moreover, at the moment, the display of Inspectorul Padurii website is erroneous. Due to a system failure, most of the Avizes shows have a misplacement of several kilometres. The reason of this error is unknown. Just recently, the inspectorulopadurii.ro website added the remark, that it shall be considered as a TEST system.
With the new law (HG1004 that originally should’ve entered into force in April, but now seems to be postponed to October 2017) the truck driver would be requested to take the mobile device with him during the trip. We assume that this will help to register the full GPS-track of the truck. But besides concerns of the accuracy of the GPS’s sensors, this system has the flaw that nobody knows, if the device is really on board the truck. It could be possible, for example, that the device is transported in a slowly driving car, whereas the truck makes a detour to deliver illegally cut timber to a processor. As well as a fake load can be registered from a log depot – whereas the truck really loads (illegal) timber in the forest somewhere between the log depot and the processor. In the meantime the mobile device might be transported in a car from the log depot to the loading site, and there given to the truck driver. When the truck arrives at the mill, it would seem, that (illegally cut) logs come directly from the log depot.
There is an alternative system Timflow that works only in a test mode, but it’s showing already some real advantages. First of all, in the Timflow-system the GPS tracker is built into the trucks electronic system and it is non-detachable. And since it is a specialised tracker, the quality of the coordinates is much higher. Also, it has another advantage respect to the previous analogues, the transparency. Users will be able to look up the transports on the website (timflow.com), where all the information will be available for public in 24-hours after transporting will be completed (to respect the personal rights of the truck driver) including pictures of loading point and truck. How this system performs in real conditions will be clear soon. At the moment, more than 350 trucks are already equipped with the Timflow-GPS tracker. At the end of the first quarter 2017, it will be more than 400.
Timflow-system was presented in the media as Holzindustrie Schweighofer’s development operated by one of Romania’s major mobile network providers. In December 2016 HS started to equip all trucks delivering logs to HS’ saw mill and log yards with GPS devices. There are provided a couple of changes in the delivery procedure: suppliers and transporting companies have to present the route taken by the trucks in addition to all documents requested by law and companies standards. The GPS track should be investigated thoroughly. This makes sure that the truck really origins from the site specified in the documents and that the transporters can’t make detours and abuse documents issued for HS to deliver illegal timber to other processors.
All the procedure is not so complicated but will guarantee that logs origins are legal. At the loading point, the truck driver takes pictures of the load, enters the Aviz- and the license plate numbers and pushed the start button. The transport is marked as “started”. During the transport, a GPS tracker, which is built into the trucks wiring, records the position in 30 sec. intervals and submits this data to a cloud-server. When the truck arrives at the saw mills, it is marked as “arrived” by HS-employees. Automatically, the dataset is displayed on a tablet of the HS gate manager. The gate manager verifies this data. If there will be observed any irregularities, for example, an unexplainable detour during the route or differences between the pictures in the forest and the load that arrives, the truck will not be accepted.
Then, after a waiting period of 24 hours, as we mentioned before, the load’s dataset will be displayed on timflow.com where the general public can look up transports, request the documents of the load, and report observations to Holzindustrie Schweighofer. HS will immediately investigate these findings and respond to the claimant if the findings can be confirmed, if the case was handed over to the authorities or if there is no evidence for violations.
The State Agency ROMSILVA has also announced its own logs control system. In 2015 they bought $1 million observation system Totalsoft and Softwin. It might suppose to give an access to a shared database of all participants in the field of forestry and in the same time to prevent illegal logging. But we didn’t find any information how exactly and when this system will start to work.
We are pleased to notice that Romania is making steps towards new methods in fighting with illegal logging. Unfortunately, not all of them are working in practice. All the bureaucratic delays are slowing down the processes of implementing new regulations on the legislative level. But still, should be noted the fact that business representatives in the sector understand that it is just necessary to preserve forests and that eradication of the phenomenon of illegal logging is their priority.