Digitalization of forest management : Next generation unsupervised monitoring using Internet of Things and Blockchain

University essay from KTH/Industriell ekonomi och organisation (Inst.); KTH/Industriell ekonomi och organisation (Inst.)

Abstract: The forest industry is a fundamental cornerstone of the Swedish economy employing over 70 000 workers on a national scale. In recent years, the industry has seen increased efforts to digitalize operations and management of forestry to reap economical rewards, improve efficiency and gain competitive advantages. Due to living nature of trees, forest-management is a critical activity within the industry; trees and forests maintained properly will reward the owner with not only greater quality and greater quantity of wood, but also a shorter realization of cash flow. Fully realized, data from UPM Skog suggests that proper forest management has the potential to increase forest returns with up to 50 percent. This thesis studies forest management in the context of digitalization with the aim of making forest monitoring more digital and intelligent. In particular, it studies unsupervised monitoring in detail, a subset of remote sensing. Applications and effects of unsupervised monitoring include but are not limited to; enable real-time management of forest inventory, improved planning, time logging to market-fluctuations and enhanced biodiversity. There are a multitude of technologies that could be utilized and applied to achieve unsupervised monitoring and the startingpoint for discussion are the technologies Internet of Things and Enterprise Blockchain. The research is carried out as a case-study utilizing qualitative semi-structured interviews as primary data collection tool combined with a rigorous literature study in the relevant technological areas. The findings of this thesis portray a trade-off between infrastructure, maintainability, precision and latency on the choice of communication technology. Further, it discusses various ways to work around the different drawbacks of specific technology choices and in what contexts they be more or less suitable. Blockchain technology can act as an enabler for multiple novel industrial applications due to is properties of immutability, transparency and trust; however, not critical for unsupervised monitoring applications in the short run. This research serves as a first step in exploring the area of Internet of Things and Blockchain applied to unsupervised monitoring of forestry. In doing so, the thesis addresses infrastructural considerations, economic feasibility as well as key implications in terms of change management.

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