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International Forwarding Association Blog » Road Transport in Europe » Challenges and Strategies in Shipping Forestry Products

Challenges and Strategies in Shipping Forestry Products

Transporting forestry products involves navigating a variety of challenges to ensure the safety and integrity of goods. Effective transportation in Europe requires careful selection of vehicles, moisture and temperature control, pest and disease management, and strategic route planning to avoid physical obstacles.


Types of Vehicles

The choice of vehicles depends largely on the type of product being moved. Flatbed trucks, characterized by their open sides and absence of a roof, are particularly well-suited for carrying logs and lumber, which do not require protection from precipitation, sunlight, or debris. Additionally, the accessibility of flatbed trucks enables the use of forklifts and cranes which facilitates loading and unloading. For extremely heavy or oversized cargo, specialized trailers like step-deck or double-drop trailers are used to manage the extra height and weight. On the other hand, enclosed box trailers are the preferred choice for transporting paper and pulp, as these materials are more sensitive to environmental conditions like weather and road debris.


Moisture and Temperature Control

Maintaining the correct moisture and temperature levels is key, especially for processed forestry products like paper and pulp. In overly dry conditions, these materials become brittle, while excessive moisture can lead to mold growth or compromise the structural integrity of paper products. To prevent these issues, temperature-controlled units are often used which keep temperatures within a range of about 20°C to 22°C. For moisture, relative humidity levels are generally kept between 50% and 60%. This helps ensure that the paper does not absorb excess moisture from the air, which can cause swelling, warping, and other forms of degradation.


Pest and Disease Control

Forestry products are vulnerable to pests such as bark beetles, termites, and wood borers, along with diseases like blight, rust, and mildew. Both can spread rapidly and compromise products’ quality and value. To mitigate risks, European freight forwarders may have to treat these products with approved pesticides and fungicides several days before shipping. They should also inspect vehicles and containers regularly for holes through which pests could enter and organic residues that could harbor pests and spores.


Route Planning to Avoid Obstacles

Efficient route planning is important for the smooth transport of forestry products. Routes must be planned with consideration of low bridges, weight-restricted roads, and narrow passages. Navigational challenges such as sharp turns or steep inclines also need to be addressed, especially when transporting long or particularly heavy loads that may require extra maneuvering space. When road conditions threaten transport safety, such as extremely narrow roads or very steep inclines, additional support measures become necessary. These could include the use of pilot vehicles to guide the transport through difficult sections or route escorts who can help with traffic control.

Additionally, overhead obstacles like low-hanging branches, power lines, and unstable building overhangs can pose significant risks, particularly for high loads transport. To manage these risks effectively, route planners should utilize detailed maps and height clearance data to identify routes that offer safe passage.