This project focused on Human-Centered-Design (HTC) with all research and initial ideation being a collaborative class-effort.
To kick off the project we visited your colaborating partner Rottne AB in southern Sweden where we were introduced to the company, its history, structure, future plans and production facilities. We then conducted a workshop with a broad range of employees.
This is were things got interesting! On time for the first snow we drove inland to Hällnes where we visited Stefan who is a forestry entrepreneur and owns both a lumber harvester and forwarder (lumber transporter). Together with Lennart who has already been working with Stefan's father they operate both machines as a team. While one cuts the trees and delimbs and cuts the logs to length the operator of the forwarder follows the harvester and collects the lumber and brings it to the access road where a heavy truck will pick up the lumber.
Harvester and forwarder need to work together as they rely on each other for a smooth work flow.
After spending some hours interviewing and observing Stefan and Lennart we were invited into Stefan's charming home for a cup of hot tea where we continued our interview and even met his lovely young family.
Back in Umeå we began our user experience workshop by collecting all photos, video files, notes, sketches, quotes and impressions and began clustering them in order to identify problem areas.
To immerse ourselves even deeper in the user experience we created a map of a (fictive) day in the life of a harvester or forwarder operator.
Together as a team we identified plenty of interesting problem areas like the lack of visibility from the operator's cab, the danger of injury when entering/exiting the cab or servicing the machine, the constant vibration and shocks to the operator or the boredom while working.
During our initial visit we the damage to the sensitive forest floor was remarkably obvious even though Stefan's harvester is one of the smallest machines and have only started working on this area of the forest. I did not dare imagining the ground damage after completing their work which made me focus on the reduction of ground damage.
Another aspect that I wanted to focus on was the importance of a two-operator-team as the work cannot be done alone. Stefan was worried about finding a suitable replacement for Lennart who is very experienced and will retire soon.
Building little mock-ups that were combined with detailed models of harvesters and forwarders from the toy store helped me quickly evaluate different concepts.
Both analog and digital on the school's Cintiqs.
With our concepts, presentations, mock-ups and posters a group of us visited e very welcoming and dedicated Stefan at his home to get his honest feedback before proceeding with the process and final model making.
Building models is always one of my favorite tasks as I enjoy building things.
To get the best result with a limited model making budget I used several different methods for different parts of the model. While highly detailed elements were 3D-printed and glued to the main body and some details that were cnc-milled from red PU-foam, the tracks were laser cut from 3mm MDF-sheets before being modified and finished by hand. The crane arms and track guides were assembled from varying laser cut materials.
After the assembly of all parts the model was painted and finished with decals.
The final model is built in scale 1:20.
Please click on the photo for a higher resolution image.
Increasing the surface area allows the vehicle weight to be spread over a greater area which results in greatly reduced ground pressure.
The rear module of the forwarder can drive offset from the front module. This means that each track has its own path and the pressure is being evenly distributed over the whole width of the forest road. Because the tracks are exactly 1/4th of the width of a conventional harvester, the forwarder can use the same roads, while in off-set mode or reduce it’s width, if needed.
Without the need for a driver, many components of the forwarder become obsolete. Most obvious is the tiltable cabin with air-conditioning & heating, rollover-protection, reinforced windows & control elements. The complex suspension has been reduced to a few non-moving parts.