Connectivity and long battery life is key in the Swedish forest industry

It is remarkable how intensely a business can benefit and grow because of digital transformation. In recent years, connectivity and the use of rugged devices has pushed the forest industry to new lengths.

written by Ulrik Johansson, Product Manager at GDM

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Almost 75 percent of Sweden is covered by forest. Naturally, this rather unusual fact makes Sweden a perfect aim for the forest industry, which by the way does not only produce timber. In fact, wood and pulp from the forest is used to produce materials as different as car filters, toothpaste, clothing, and renewable fuel. Even everyday foods like sausages, baked goods and cake mixes are often added fibers from wood pulp. 

My knowledge about the industry comes from working for GDM for 12 years – an IT company, which has provided IT support, infrastructure and information services to large Swedish players in the forest industry for 30 years. Personally, I have been part of the industry for 20 years. 

Throughout this period, I have experienced firsthand how the industry has evolved and grown. Initially at a steady pace, but in recent years, almost explosively because of various technological progress. It is quite amazing how an entire industry can transform because of digital transformation.  


I remember helping to build a computer backpack for forest workers around 15 or 20 years ago. It had a rather enormous battery, an external screen, keyboard and mouse and weighed around 15 kilos, which of course made it difficult to carry over long periods of time. Earlier on, bringing a computer to the forest was not an option. And even though it might be hard to remember or even understand, there was a time when computers did not even exist. 

However, digital transformation has moved quickly in the last couple of decades, and few industries have benefitted as much as the forest industry. Today, the industry can do real-time measurements of e.g. the tree population as well as real-time adaptations of lengths and proportions of timber, enabling forest workers to always meet demands. It is even possible to use x-ray cameras to view if trees contain any bad materials, making it possible to discard these at an early stage. Another advantage comes from continuously being able to calculate the optimal logistics flow in the forest. 

Advantages like these have multiplied tremendously in the last couple of years because of huge improvements with connectivity in the even the deepest Swedish forest areas. Also, the days of the 15 kilo heavy computer back packs are of course gone. Now, forest workers carry small computers and tablets, enabling them to optimize every detail of their operation. 


As for the devices, long battery life and general ruggedness is key. Therefore, Panasonic TOUGHBOOK seems to fit perfectly in an environment, where it can be both extremely cold, with heavy rain or snow, making the screen slow and sluggish. Also, bright sunlight can make conditions tricky in the forest – as can the fact that you are not able to plug in or charge your devices, as you would in at home or in an office. Furthermore, devices can of course be dropped and even run over in the forest where machines are everywhere. 

The latest development within the forest industry is a huge focus on sustainability, accelerating the businesses and their potential even further. Already, the building industry is focusing on wood as the building material of the future, since it can replace other CO2 heavy materials such as concrete. And since wood actually absorbs CO2 rather than deduces it. These days, many forest companies actually produce the fuel to run their own machines.  This is indeed interesting times in the forest industry. 



My experience in this field dates back 20 years, in which I have experienced firsthand how the industry has evolved and grown. It is quite amazing how an entire industry can transform because of digital transformation. 

About GDM
GDM provides services and couseling within infrastructure and operations, support, workplace and security. Since 1992, GDM has developed as a rapidly growing company and has become a strong IT brand in Sweden, with 130 employees in five locations, from Stockholm in the south to Umeå in the north.


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