Potential Traffic Levels after Increasing the Maximum Vehicle Weight in Environmentally Efficient Transportation System: The Case of Finland
The objective of this research was to study how the maximum vehicle weight (76 t) will affect roundwood transportation in environmentally efficient transportation system. Actual traffic levels were assessed with calculations based on the vehicle configurations (60, 64, 68, and 76 t) a year after the weight limit was raised. Consequences of this change were also assessed for predicted future traffic levels. The reduction in operational vehicle-km was 12.5% (versus a decrease of 9.3% based on the legal weight), though this may underestimate the long-term prediction (26.7%) that will be achieved when the roundwood transportation sector adjusts fully to the higher maximum weight limit. The migration of loads to heavier vehicles did not create any wood harvesting problems for 60, 64 and 68 t vehicle configurations. However, 76 t vehicles were often volume-constrained, so it was harder to achieve the maximum weight. The main operational challenge was pulpwood (3.5 and 4.0 m) when onboard loaders were not available. Based on comparison of roundwood length measurements as an indicator of volume-constraint vehicles, the best practice system is discussed to enable an efficient transportation system for sustainable wood procurement.