This article reports on track-monitoring and analyzing machine clearances during wood forwarding across seasons and weather, using ultrasonic distance sensors in combination with time-stamped GPS xy locations, at 10 sec intervals. The resulting data, obtained from 54 harvesting blocks, were analyzed by machine type (two wood forwarders and one grapple skidder), stand type (softwood plantation versus natural hardwood stands), month, slope, cartographic depth-to-water (DTW) classes, number of passes along track, and machine speed. For the most part, clearances were highly variable, due to passing over stumps, rocks, harvest slash, brushmats, ruts, and snow cover when present. This variability was on average greater for the lighter-weight wood forwarders than for the heavier-weight skidder, with the former mostly moving along equally spaced lines on brushmats, while the paths of the latter spread away from central wood-landing sites. In terms of trends, machines moved 1) more slowly on wet ground, 2) faster during returning than forwarding, and 3) fastest along wood-landing roads, as to be expected. Low clearances were most notable during winter on snow-covered ground, and on non-frozen shallow DTW and wet multiple-pass ground. During dry weather conditions, clearances also increased from low-pass tracks to multi-pass tracks due to repeat soil compaction of broadened tracks. These results are presented block-by-block and by machine type. Each block-based clearance frequency pattern was quantified through regression analysis and using a gamma probability distribution function.
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