Peek A Boo

A Google Street View For Forests

Dralle PR
Cameras to capture the woods: Dralle technologies measure lumber piles.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If new technologies for measuring lumber are approved by authorities this year, higher accuracy and efficiency will mean more money for forest owners but threaten dealers and sawmills who have so far derived profit from measuring inaccuracies.

  • Facts


    • New technologies to accurately measure lumber include Danish company Dralle’s camera-mounted cars and German startup Fovea’s smartphone app.
    • The new German Weights and Measures Act came into effect in 2015, paving the way for approval of new measuring technologies.
    • Current measuring and pricing methods rely heavily on manual estimating techniques and conversion factors like the shake factor.
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Christian Stuhlmann’s off-road vehicles look like Google’s Street View vans and, to some groups, are just as controversial. Special cameras mounted on their roofs are used to take pictures not of streets but of tree trunks.

Mr. Stuhlmann is the German regional manager for Dralle. The Danish company has developed a digital technology for the forestry and lumber industry, which, despite its relatively low profile, employs 1.2 million people – more than the German automobile industry.

Dralle’s camera-equipped off-road vehicles are designed to simplify the work of many forest managers. The technology allows them to measure a stack of tree trunks five meters (16.4 feet) long and three meters high within just three minutes. “That normally takes 20 minutes,” Mr. Stuhlmann said.

Measuring a woodpile using the traditional method begins with marking the measuring points with a can of spray paint, “a process that consumes two cans of paint, at €8 apiece,” he said. Then foresters and lumber dealers take two-to-three-meter measuring sticks and climb up onto the stacks of logs to measure the diameters of selected logs with a gauge known as a cruising rod.

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