Researchers from the University of León create, within the DIGIS3 framework, digital twins for optimal poplar tree use

The DRACONES Research Group, formed by researchers from the Ponferrada Campus of the University of León (ULE), has initiated the development of a proof of concept (PoC) with the company Garnica Samazan, located in France, to transfer 3D technologies available for the quantification and estimation of standing poplar wood volume (Smart Forestry), within the European Digital Innovation Centre DIGIS3. This collaboration represents the internationalisation of the knowledge transfer initiated with the company Garnica Valencia de Don Juan (León) in 2023 and which continues today.

DRACONES researchers during measurements in the poplar groves of Garnica Samazan. Source: ULE

The collaboration with the French company consists of applying the methods developed by DRACONES for the estimation of profile functions and standing timber volume using laser technology in several clonal plantations. The researchers from the Ponferrada campus carried out data collection in poplar plantations with a portable laser scanner that captures more than 300,000 points and allows for a detailed 3D reconstruction of each tree, so that a digital twin of the poplar plantation is created in which the total wood volume of each tree, its height, diameter or wood volume can be accurately calculated to obtain logs with certain characteristics set by the industry. Based on this information, it is possible to know the amount of wood to be obtained and how to make the optimum cutting for its use (before cutting it and taking it to the factory), thus optimising the industrial processes and ensuring the maximum yield of the wood.

Garnica is a wood transformation company that was founded 78 years ago and has four factories dedicated to the development of poplar wood, one of them in Valencia de Don Juan (León). It is the largest manufacturer of poplar plywood in Europe, the largest in Southern Europe and the third largest manufacturer of plywood in Europe. The company exports 92% of its production outside the national territory, and it is strongly committed to sustainable development by converting local raw materials into plywood boards with high added value. It creates around 1100 direct jobs, which are indirectly doubled, most of them in rural areas with low population density.

DRACONES researcher during measurements in the poplar groves of Garnica Samazan. Source: ULE

The digitalisation of these processes in the forestry sector is essential to improving work and production lines, as well as to achieving more efficient and sustainable management, benefiting both the industry and the environment, thanks to a more accurate knowledge of current and expected stocks. The expected duration of the PoC is from 15 April to 31 October 2024.

This project is part of the DIGIS3 project initiatives, and DRACONES is among the 14 research groups of the ULE that are part of this consortium, the only European Digital Innovation Hub (EDIH) of Castilla y León, formed by six entities of the region (ULEAIR InstituteDIHBUDIH-LEAFSCAYLE and ICECYL), with the aim of promoting the Smart, Sustainable and Cohesive Digital Transformation of SMEs and public administrations of the community.

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