Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Volume Calculations and Rules, Part 3: SilviaTerra’s Volume Calculation Method

Volume Calculations and Rules, Part 3: SilviaTerra’s Volume Calculation Method

In the first post of this series, we discussed log rules in overview, and in the second we reviewed the shortcomings of form classes and why individual tree volume equations are preferable. Make sure to check those out, if you missed them.

This third part will highlight the methods and advantages of SilviaTerra’s volume calculation method - specifically, how our individual tree volume calculation methods are designed to save you time and energy.

At SilviaTerra, we use flexible, segmented equations for tree taper. Using the data you collect during your cruise, we fit a unique equation for each species you identify. Our team designs these equations to most closely represent the shape and taper of the specific trees from each cruise. This means that the equations will fit the trees in your stand, specifically. There’s no faster or easier way to get the highly reliable, customized volume estimates you need.

We’ve made it easy for you to record data while on your cruise. Our free app, Plot Hound, is available on the Appstore and Google Play. Its user friendly interface makes data entry quick and painless, and the app connects directly to our volume calculation system for automatic upload.

The more data you collect on your cruise, the better, but we use available historic data on similar trees in nearby areas to make estimates for measurements you don’t provide. For example, if you record the height, total or merchantable, for a particular stem, we will use the value you provide. But, if some of the stem measurements you record do not include a height measurement, we fill in the gaps using data from similar trees in your stand, and with historic data from similar nearby stands. This provides the most accurate estimate available.

When we receive your data, we analyze it to get a sense of your stand, especially the diversity of species and stem sizes. We compare what you’ve collected with data on the same species growing in similar conditions (such as stocking, location and species distribution) in nearby areas. Most of this data is publicly available from the U.S. Forest Service. Using their data provides us with more data points and allows for a more robust, and therefore more reliable, equation. The end result is a high-quality, custom-fit taper equation for every species in your stand.

Using these equations, we calculate volume on a stem-by-stem basis. We virtually ‘buck’ each measured tree into logs for the product or products that it may produce, based on the merchantability specifications you provide. Our system is designed to compute volumes in whatever units you need- cubic feet, tons, or board feet (International, Scribner, or Doyle).

The best part is that we’ve recently updated our system to get the results back to you more quickly than ever! Within a few hours, you’ll receive a free report on your data, organized into easy-to-understand tables.

If you need data analysis, we also offer more in-depth volume reports, which provide a summary of volumes by species and product, based on the ruleset you provide. Let us know ahead of time if you’d like to receive them so we can set you up in our system.

Plot Hound is the solution to your volume calculation needs. Give it a try! To learn even more about Plot Hound, click here. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like to receive our in-depth volume reports.

That wraps up our series on volume calculations and rules! We hope it has been a valuable resource for you.

Check back soon! We have more content and some exciting announcements coming just around the corner that you won’t want to miss. Subscribe to our blog or follow us on Facebook to stay up to date.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Best Hardware for your Timber Cruise with Plot Hound

The Best Hardware for your Timber Cruise with Plot Hound

Plot Hound is a great app for collecting cruise data in the field. It’s free to collect data, so all you need is a standard consumer phone or tablet and you’ll be all set up. Today will focus on the tablet side. But which tablet should you buy for you and your team?

The first question to ask is whether you prefer Google Android or Apple iOS. Android devices are typically a little cheaper, but there’s also some really cheap Android hardware out there that will affect how Plot Hound runs and could affect the accuracy of the cruise. We really recommend sticking to our recommendations, if you go the Android route.

Because all iOS devices are made by Apple, we can guarantee that Plot Hound will look and work great on your iPads. And if all your team currently uses iPhones, then iOS would be a great way to go.

ipad mini.jpgiOS Recommended Hardware

Since Apple owns this space completely, there’s not a big surprise we’re recommending iPads here. But which versions?
We recommend two Apple tablets in this space whose main difference is size and portability. If you prefer a larger screen, we recommend the Apple iPad Air 2. With its 9.7 inch screen, you’ll have a lot of real estate to enter your cruise data and check your maps. You can buy it straight from Amazon for around $450 with Wi-Fi connectivity.

But if portability and price are more important than screen size, we recommend the Apple iPad Mini 3. Its 7.9 inch screen is still big enough to easily collect data for a cruise. You can buy it straight from Amazon for around $370 with Wi-Fi connectivity.

Android Recommended Hardware

nexus9.jpgOur favorite tablets here are the Nexus line straight from Google. If you buy a Nexus tablet, you know that you’ll always be able to update the tablet to the latest supported version of Android, and that means that Plot Hound will always be the best it can be on your device.

The current Nexus tablet is the Nexus 9. Its 8.9 inch screen makes for easy data entry while still being very portable. You can buy the Nexus 9 straight from Amazon for about $375.

If you’re on the price conscious side, we also recommend the older Nexus 7. An investment in this hardware won’t last you as long as the Nexus 9, but if you need a cheap option now, the Nexus 7 is a great way to go. It’s not in production anymore, but it will still do a great job running Plot Hound. You buy the Nexus 7 straight from Amazon for between $150 and $250, depending on the exact technology specs.

cedar.jpgAnd finally, if you’re willing to spend a bit more on your hardware, and you want a good rugged tablet, we recommend the Cedar CT7 rugged tablet. You can buy it straight from Amazon for $900. If you often find yourself dropping your cruising gear in a swamp, this could be a great tablet for you.

The question of whether “rugged” hardware is worth the additional cost and weight is really a matter of personal economics. Standard commercial products are often sturdy enough, and cheap to replace in the off chance that something goes wrong. However, if the cost to have increased assurance that you wont have a day ending event(e.g. tablet in water, or dropped on a rock) is $500 extra dollars - if you cruise more than 30% of your working days, and the loss of a day (or day’s data) is the loss of $500 worth of work - then “rugged” may be well worth it. We’ll explore this question more thoroughly in a forthcoming article!

Bonus Recommendations

There are a couple other products that make for better cruising with Plot Hound. Here are some other quick hit recommendations.