The future of 4.0 connectivity

FPInnovations
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Driven by a competitive market, FPInnovations’ Forestry 4.0 initiative aims at automating the forest operation sector. However, a lack of adequate communication networks reaching remote locations is a barrier to real-time supply chain management data for forestry operations.

Low Earth orbit satellite constellations (LEOs) are a complex network of hundreds or thousands of satellites that orbit closer to Earth than traditional geostationary orbit satellites. Travelling at much faster speeds, LEOs traverse the Earth approximately ten times per day. The advantage: global coverage and reduced latency (required for teleoperation).

Opportunities and challenges

LEOs promise to provide high-speed internet coverage to remote areas where forestry companies operate and typically do not have cell coverage. With crews frequently changing locations, LEOs are a desirable solution for providing real-time monitoring of forestry machinery and constant connectivity for the transmission of large amounts of data.

Before forest operations can benefit from the technology, LEOs will require lower manufacturing costs through large scale, serial production. Economies of scale of phased array antennas, which direct frequencies to constantly moving satellites, are also needed to reach a broader market and are crucial for eliminating fixed infrastructure.

LEO outlook

It’s a race to see which companies will fully deploy the first high-speed, high bandwidth LEO satellite constellation, but there are still many unknowns. “FPInnovations will continue to monitor and report on marketing developments and determine when these solutions will be available to the industry,” explains Maxime Tanguay-Laflèche, FPInnovations Researcher – Transportation. “With our understanding of industry needs and requirements, FPInnovations will arm forestry operations with insights to feed their decision-making processes.”

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Source: FPInnovations

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