New Gear

Canadian loggers have been facing the music for the past 18 months in this dog of a market. Now, thanks to John Deere, they can also face the work at hand. The global forestry supplier launched its all-new E-Series harvesters and forwarders in Lahti, Finland, in late May, a line of rubber-tire cut-to-length (CTL) gear that includes an isolated, rotating and levelling cab that may change the way loggers look at forwarding for years to come. The E-Series, which will start coming off production lines late in 2008, also includes a wider range of harvester and forwarder sizes, a new approach to on-board support and documentation, a very slick looking new expandable and levelling bunk option, and in several cases, more capacity. To top it all off, it’s packaged in a new hot rod design that gives the machines a look all their own.

Moving heavy, big-boy excavators or forestry machines can mean a rude introduction to the world of permits, specialized trailers, bridge heights and weights, curfew hours, weather restrictions, and increased liabilities. Plus those flags on your tractor and trailer are like waving a red cape in front of a bull — everyone knows no self-respecting transport minister inspector or police officer can resist at least a cursory walk-around inspection of a “wide load.”

When Timberline Logging, of Wallagrass, ME, learned that rates were being cut by its customer, Irving Woodlands, the two-man company didn't panic. In fact, it did quite the opposite. The Toussaint brothers, Jacques, age 38, and Chris, 35 owners of Timberline, went on a strategic offensive by upgrading to Valmet’s big 941 harvester with the new 370.2 head.

Green. In a word, that’s what this year’s Detroit Auto Show was about; and for a change it’s not just lip service. There are wide and varied “green solutions” being offered by a majority of automakers – and while general consumer products are the main focus for the fleet and commercial buyer, more diesel offerings and two-mode hybrids are on the way. For the forest industry, it’s not a moment too soon. In a business where cutting back on the power needed or kilometres driven is not an option, what’s coming in the next two years is going to positively impact the bottom line.

In case CONEXPO 2005 wasn’t big enough (it was), the 2008 edition held March 11-15 in Las Vegas, NV, was 21% larger and saw a significant boost in attendance to boot. Total exhibit space was over 2.4 million ft2, allowing almost 2,200 exhibitors to show their wares, alongside another 469 in the adjacent fluid power/hydraulics show (IFPE 2008). 

Calm in Rough Seas

While the Wood Technology Clinic & Show in Portland, OR, was smaller than years past, and the crowds thinner, the event was far from the disaster some cynics had predicted. Despite tough markets, visitors stopped in, especially on the Thursday. Business was discussed, and CWP Magazine spoke to several independent sawmillers who will be doing expansion work while their mills are down. Reasons cited for this approach included taking advantage of suppliers who can give them their full attention, aggressive bidding by hungry suppliers, and getting the work done when downtime is not a bad idea anyway.


We exhibited at the event as always, and it proved well worth our time and investment. There were a few notable absences among the regular suppliers, most notable of all being Coe Newnes McGehee, who opted to stay home in 2008. On the other hand, there were some new players, with new ideas and who expect their own business to grow despite the market. Notable among these were small-log processing experts Inotech Fabrication from Quebec, and the original Ron McGehee himself, on hand with his new partners and son Clark to show off his latest innovation in linear edging.


Here’s just a smattering of some of the new gear we saw on display. Feel free to contact the suppliers for more info.

 

KILN DRYING

Seminar targets new control methods

Wagner Electronic Products hosted a drying QC  seminar at Wood Technology 2008 that featured presentations from experts around the world, including Dr. Gavin Wallace of the Geologic and Nuclear Sciences Institute of New Zealand, Michael Milota of Oregon State University, and Catalin Ristea of UBC. The seminar included presentations on density-compensated moisture measurement (DCMM) technology and the use of a patented model for statistical process control on lognormal moisture data. Wagner expects DCMM to increase the accuracy of lumber moisture measurement when compared to the ASTM Ovendry Standard. It uses low-level gamma energy to measure the density of each piece and then uses a proprietary algorithm to calculate the true moisture content. Many attendees felt the industry is ready to move to a better, more accurate method for measuring lumber moisture content. For more info on the presentations, call Ron Smith at 1-800-944-7078, ext 125.  www.moisturemeters.com.

 

AUTOMATIC GRADING

Autolog back with HD linear auto grader

Gabriel Payant of Autolog was all smiles at this year’s event, and why not? The optimization and control experts had some very exciting news to share with attendees, creating the kind of buzz that makes trade shows worthwhile. For starters, the company that did the most to popularize linear grade geometric optimization in the past decade with its Linear Planer Optimizer (LPO) has added high definition colour scanning technology out of Germany to the mix. This 1575 dpi image creates an exact replica of the piece being graded, and in new units is mounted alongside the 3D geometric scanners on a retractable module for easy access and maintenance.


It can also be retrofitted to existing Autolog LPO’s, good news for the over 90 installs in the field that may be looking for grader-less solutions. And grader-less is exactly what it provides, Payant says. The first two units are being installed in Arbec Forest Products’ high-production SPF mills in Port Cartier and Peribonka, QC this spring, where they will detect blue stain, rot, white speck, heart stain and other biological defects. The mills’ lumber has already been tested for grader-less grading at Autolog’s own facility, where the supplier is also testing lumber from some BC Interior mills among others. The supplier is also offering an off-the-shelf X-ray module for detecting tough defects like blonde knots.


For those who prefer transverse solutions, Autolog was showing off some new colour scanning technology from Hermary Opto on its trimmer optimizer display. The system uses Hermary’s brand new DPS-824 dual profile board scanner with colour vision, and will go out in the near future to a beta site in New England. There it will cut its teeth looking for blonde knots alongside other biological defects that give B&W systems fits. www.autolog.com, www.hermaryopto.com.

 

LINEAR EDGING

McGehee back in style

If you wanted to find Ron McGehee’s latest addition to sawmill technology lore, you just had to look for the blocked aisle in front of his booth. There, sawmillers gathered to see a new design of linear edger that McGehee says allows saws to shift faster, reducing the required gap between pieces. The device comes from a new company called 2RS Inc. of Vancouver, WA, named after the three founding partners – Ron, Rory Mitchell, formerly of CNM, and Scott Bye, formerly of McGehee Equipment and CAE McGehee. Ron has also brought son Clark into the business (pictured). Advantages of the new design include an all-electric design with no hydraulics; a modular design that allows staff to swap out one arbour for another and fix problems off line without lost production; an over-lapping board feeder to reduce end gaps; no sawguides, saw lube, water or splined arbours; and single belt feedroll drives (no gearbox or serpentine drives). In brief, a simple, low maintenance, productive edger. Several models are already running, including at Sierra Pacific Industries’ mill in Chinese Camp, CA, and Troy Lumber in Troy, NC.  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 

PRODUCT MARKING

I-Mark leaves mark on attendees

Matthews Marking Products Division showed off its new I-Mark C84 Continuous Ink Jet (CIJ) printer, featuring a self-cleaning print head cartridge and large touch screen for fast, reliable small-character coding of up to four lines of text. It all starts by putting your specs into the large, easy-to-read, colour, icon-based touch screen. This, and the single-button controls for jet start-up and shutdown make it simple to run, create, and change messages. “We think the C84 has the easiest operator interface of any CIJ on the market,” says Antonio Cortes del Valle, product manager. “And because of its longer throwing distance, it can be placed further from the wood surface than other technologies, while still producing better resolution, sharper marking.” Matthews adds that the C84 only requires maintenance after 2,500 operating hours. It is suited for marking the narrow edges of wood or OSB.


CWP also had a chat with Casey Clausen, Matthews sales rep, about some recent installs in western Canada of the supplier’s nail and pattern marking technology at an Alberta OSB mill, as well as a new printing system for CE marking of lumber destined for Europe at an Alberta dimension lumber mill. Look to CWP for further info on these applications  www.matthewsmarking.com.

 

PANEL MANUFACTURING

Raute’s robot does the work

Walk through a typical plywood plant, and you’ll see a lot of automation right to the back end, where an army of workers can sometimes be seen patching up plywood sheets like mad. That messy process may change, as Raute has a robotic plywood panel repair line that takes its orders from a visual defect analyzer based on the proven Mecano veneer system. The system combines intelligent VDA camera grading that recognizes a slew of defects (knots/knot holes, cracks/splits, resin pockets, surface roughness, etc…) with a proven, rugged industrial robotic arm. The result is an automatic panel repair and polypatch application line that always uses the right amount of material, and doesn’t know the difference between day and night, or the Monday morning shift from Friday afternoon near quitting time. www.raute.com.

 

MILL SCANNING

Options aplenty from ScanMeg

This Canadian supplier of high-tech scanning solutions has a range of options to suit just about any application, from single-point solutions to complex multi-board scanning in real-time size control. Solutions include the Type S scanner, a laser sensor designed to give maximum scanning data on waney-edged boards. It uses two cameras to measure steep wane or square-edged flitches, and even includes a built-in wane detection feature for PLC control of board turners. ScanMeg also has the Type TS true-shape scanner for measuring the full profile of any object. The sensor takes 150 to 300 readings per second with an accuracy of 0.010" to 0.015". With a density of 10 to 50 points per inch along the laser line, the TS keeps a complete set of data in memory for a log or board, and will send this 3D shape data with a simple TCP/IP request.  www.scanmeg.com.

 

MILL LUBRICATION

Make less sludge, use less fuel

Petro-Canada was on hand to give advice on two Canadian specialties – Hockey and high-end lubricants. Wood Technology guests could test the accuracy of their wrist shot with an on-site hockey target net, or try to solve some lube challenges by talking about the supplier’s latest offerings, like the HYDREX line of hydraulic oils. There are HYDREX products for both fixed mill and mobile yard equipment. HYDREX AW is specifically designed to resist sludge build up in plant equipment hydraulic systems, thus avoiding serious problems with pump failure and downtime, while extending change out periods and maintenance costs. For the extreme range of temperatures facing Canadian mill yard gear, HYDREX XV All Season is suited to run from -40 to 75ºC, allowing you to use one product. This reduces the chance of misapplication and the need to change out oil before its time just to suit the weather. In testing, Petrocan also found that maintaining optimum viscosity in all conditions allows systems to run more efficiently, thus saving significant amounts of fuel in the process. www.lubricants.petro-canada.ca.

 

SAWMILL EQUIPMENT

Optimized edging and more from Inotech

This Quebec-based supplier has created a loyal following in eastern Canada despite tough markets, in everything from slab recovery lines and small-log processing, to hardwood edging and simple, customized solutions to mill challenges. Inotech Fabrication also has some gear working in BC, and used the Portland show to gauge interest in its solutions among other western US and Canadian sawmillers. Front and centre was promotion of its optimized edging line, a complete set-up designed for slabs up to 30 inches wide and 8 inches thick (hence the interest out west). It includes a geometric optimizer and all-electric edger infeed table with either chain feed for production softwood, or a soft-touch version for hardwoods, white pine, or other high-value species. It also offers a unique profiling “planer-edger” module that allows a wide array of cutting patterns. Several such systems are already operating in a variety of species. www.inotechfabrication.com.

Deere offers 30% more cutting

With 15% more cutting swath and a load-sensing, multi-functional hydraulic system, the John Deere 700JH Series tracked harvesters deliver more productivity than ever before – 30% more according to the manufacturer. “From the agile, yet strong boom, to the best service access in the industry, the John Deere JH Series harvesters have been engineered for optimum harvesting performance,” says Elliot Little, product marketing manager. He adds that key to the performance is the new hydraulics system, which runs cooler and more efficiently for longer pump life, but which offers better grabbing pressure and speed from 17% higher flow to the head and 23% higher flow to the main circuits. Swing torque has also been improved 20%. For slopes, the sift-tilt technology and four-way leveling system allows the upper structure to shift a full three-feet forward. Model numbers include the 703JH, 753JH, and 759JH (shown). More info at  www.deere.com.

 

Roading through slopes gets easier

Even rough jobs, like slope retention in steep terrain, can be easier with the right tools. Enter the Thompson Slope Packer attachment from Rockland Manufacturing Co. It eliminates the expensive and time-consuming task of packing slopes by the traditional method of walking them with a dozer or excavator, the manufacturer says. As an attachment for a standard excavator, the Slope Packer allows the contractor to pack slopes on any grade and in any soil condition from above or below the grade, using the weight of the attachment and the flexibility of the boom to compact the soil on the grade. Rockland says the slope packer is safer than traditional walking methods, and compacts soils up to 10 times faster. It also reduces fuel consumption and excavator wear.  More info at www.rocklandmfg.com.

 

Tops and Branches

•    John Deere Forestry and Investlesprom, a large forest company in Western Russia, have signed a framework agreement for Deere to supply forest machines to three locations in Russia, pushing sales of John Deere forestry equipment to Russia to over $100 million since the past fall. As a result of this agreement, Investlesprom has raised its harvest forecast from 2 million m3 to more than 6 million m3. www.deere.com.

•    Volvo Financial Services North America recently opened a new office in Aurora, ON to support the growth of the company’s Canadian operations, which provides financial services to dealers and customers within the Mack Trucks, Volvo Trucks, Volvo Construction Equipment and Volvo rents business segments. www.us.vfsco.com.  

•    Goodyear Canada will build a new re-tread plant in
North Bay, ON to meet increasing demand for off-road
re-treaded tires.

•    Doosan Infracore America has established Doosan
Global Finance, a single global finance provider for
Doosan Infracore’s forklift and construction equipment divisions. www.infracore.com.
•    Bruks, a Swedish-based maker and marketer of mobile drum chippers, as well as wood processing and conveying equipment, has purchased Rockwood Materials Handling of Atlanta, GA, a material handling and attachment company. The new company, BRUKS Rockwood, will be able to handle more complete bulk handling solutions. www.bruks.com.

•    Inland Kenworth’s new facility in Nanaimo, BC, has been recognized by the City of Nanaimo for its innovative green design and features, including a creative water run-off system and automatic lighting systems.

•    FPInnovations-Feric and Groupe Charette have won the Énergia 2007 top prize for energy efficiency in the transport category. The award was given for their project on the evaluation of backhaul trips using multi-purpose trailers from Groupe Charette, resulting in a 25% drop in fuel consumption. www.feric.ca.

•    Poyry PLC has acquired Perforex Inc., a consulting company focusing on sustainable operations improvements and excellence in wood products and forestry operations. www.poyry.com.

Logging operations in places like Sweden have already made great strides in reducing the am­ount of fuel needed to get a cubic metre of wood to the mill – Dropping from 5.4 litres/m3 to 3.7 in the past 20 years according to Swedish forest research agency SkogForsk.  Still, this 32% improvement is not enough, given the recent spike in diesel costs. A recent benchmarking study by SkogForsk’s Torbjörn Brunberg shows the average CTL crew in Sweden uses a total 1.7 litres to bring a cubic metre to roadside. Excellent numbers, no doubt aided by good wood, but the idea is to use these as a baseline for further improvement. Here’s some of what is, or soon will be done to improve fuel efficiency in Scandinavia.

Tigercat’s latest leveling system lighter and less expensive
Tigercat Industries has released a new leveling undercarriage, and with it, a new track carrier model well suited for the steep slopes and challenging terrain found in many Canadian regions. The R6152L leveling undercarriage shares the same design elements as Tigercat’s R7150L undercarriage first introduced in 2000, and found on the L830C and L870C machines. The main objective in creating the new system is to reduce weight while providing a lower cost leveling undercarriage to work well with the smaller platforms offered by Tigercat. It uses F8 (D6 sized) track components and many common parts with the larger R7150L leveling system. Also the bottom corner of the track drive motor housing is clipped, preventing the undercarriage from plowing a furrow through the soil, thus leaving more power for hill climbing. This new system has been mated to an 822C platform, and this first LX822C is working in mountainous terrain in BC’s southeastern Interior to good early reviews. More info at www.tigercat.com.

 

Wear block retrofit improves skidder snubber

The snubber experts at Prolenc have a new Prolenc 500 Series snubber designed primarily for Tigercat wheel skidders using 500 Series snubber assemblies. The original square (B3T-180S) wear block can be upgraded to a wedge-style wear block (# B3T-1410). The original slot anchor must be torch cut and ground to fit the 5-degree wedge angle. This eliminates repair welding and regrinding of the slot to the original 2-in square and provides a stable, stationary lock between the wedge block and anchor.  More info at www.quadco.com.

 

Cat acquires Blount…at last
Caterpillar Inc. announced last fall that it is acquiring the assets of Blount’s Forestry Division, including two manufacturing plants, a sales office, a service parts warehouse and product support operation in North America, as well as an attachment manufacturing plant in Sweden. The deal includes Blount’s full forestry line, including Prentice branded loaders and the cut-to-length (CTL) line formed from Fabtek and Votec heritage. It comes as no surprise to most in the industry who have watched the two manufacturers come increasingly close together through a series of manufacturing and marketing alliances.
Cat’s vice president on the forestry side, John Heller, says the agreement will “provide greater opportunities for integrating Caterpillar’s state-of-the-art design and components into the forestry products that have previously been manufactured by Blount.” Cat confirmed to CFI Magazine that there are no immediate plans to change the available product line, while for his part, Blount Industrial and Power Equipment Group president Dennis Eagan says Blount “dealers and customers can expect a smooth transition of ownership, and will be well served by Caterpillar.” More info at www.cat.com.

 

Olofsfors handles own track products

Starting Jan. 1, 2008, all Olofsfors ECO-Track and ECO-Wheel Track products will be sold by Olofsfors Inc. in North America. A new company, Olofsfors Inc., has been established in Brantford, ON, in partnership with Hultdins Inc. and Olofsfors AB of Sweden. It will be run by the same dedicated people who have brought the industry Olofsfors track products through Hultdins Inc. Olofsfors AB is a world leader in track products for rubber tire forest machines, and Olofsfors Inc. will be the North American headquarters for Olofsfors track products, with an established production facility and dedicated marketing personnel. Call 519-754-2190 to reach Olofsfors Inc.

 

CAN-CRANK will help you start this winter
The CANTEC CAN-CRANK is an additional power source to be installed next to your vehicle batteries, providing consistent cranking power over the service life of the battery. It gets its power from your battery, and discharges it as needed. According to the manufacturer, they have a virtually unlimited charge/discharge cycle life, and can be recharged even by depleted batteries. They are also unaffected by cold weather, and maintain cranking power right down to -45 celsius. 
More info at www.cantecsystems.com/can-crank.html.


HTH624 C meant for the big wood

Waratah Forestry Attachments has added a new processing/harvesting head to its HTH600 series of proven heads. The HTH624 C is based on the proven HTH624, a head tested in years of production harvesting in larger, second-growth timber. This makes the HTH624 C capable in big trees and tough species, at home cutting through large timber or processing up to a 71-cm (28-in) diameter stem. The powerful attachment can fell trees up to 75 cm (30 in), and is most productive in wood 50 cm (20 in) or bigger. Key improvements are: Topping saw cut capacity increased from 40 to 50 cm (16 to 20 in); C design sawbox to improve harvester applications; stronger tilt bracket and delimb knives; relocated head module for better vibration protection; better hose routing; and lower cost spare parts and more commonality. More info at www.waratah.net.

Al Falewitch was a city boy born in Chicago. He didn’t grow up in the business, and never touched a chainsaw until he was 19 years old. Yet at 40 he is a successful logger in Marquette, just over the Ontario border in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula (UP), subcontracting for J.M. Longyear LLC.

Ponsse has really, really soft touch

CTL supplier Ponsse has been working with researchers and forest companies in Finland to develop a timber harvesting system for very soft peat soils. It says it has come up with a prototype that allows profitable and environmentally friendly harvesting on these sites, as well as those with bad bearing capacity. The concept is based on a 10-wheel, five-axle forest machine with soft-ground tracks, which together significantly reduces the ground pressure when compared with even conventional CTL gear. More info at www.ponsse.com.

 

Olofsfors EX tracks grab the dirt
Huldtins was on hand at Logfor 2007 in Quebec City to show off a new line of “Extreme Traction” bogie track cross members from Olofsfors. The EX cross members are meant for rugged terrain and bigger gear, Hultdins technical road warrior Paul Contant told CFI. Whether working in steep slopes or deep snow, for regions like Gaspé or the North Shore in Quebec, or the BC Interior, this may be the option for you. Paul also showed us a new HD link designed for added track durability. It adds beef where it matters, but without extra weight or bulk that will drive fuel consumption up. More info at www.hultdins.com.


Tigercat teams up with Wajax
Full-phase forestry supplier Tigercat Industries of Paris, ON, has appinted Wajax Industries as its exclusive, full-line distributor for Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia, effective Dec. 1, 2007. Wajax employs over 2,600, and has extensive forest equipment experience through its almost 150-year history. Today, it has branches in all the key forest
markets and staff with experience in all types of logging gear and operations. Both Tigercat and Wajax say they will work hard to ensure there is no interruption of service to existing Tigercat customers during the transition. More info at www.tigercat.com or www.wajax.ca.


John Deere 700J Series cuts mean swath

Above all the other changes made to the 753J and 759J track bunchers, John Deere says loggers will most enjoy the massive 50% uplift in cutting swath. Suited for a range of applications, from thinning and regen cuts, to swamps and steep ground, the J Series boast a new hydraulic system that offers 26 percent more flow and more multi-functioning capabilities. The smart hydraulics are also able to prioritize, so operators don’t have to. Finally, boom geometry has been re-designed to offer what Deere says is the best in class minimum and maximum reach. The machines are hitting the woods in the US already, so look to future issues for more news. More info at www.deere.com.

 

Twigs & Branches
•    John Deere dealer Ontrac Equipment Services Inc. has been recognized by the National Safety Council to receive three awards for its concerted efforts to improve the health and safety of its employees – The Significant Improvement Award; the Occupational Excellence Achievement Award; and the 2007 National Safety Achievement Award. www.ontracinc.com.
•    Ponsse has delivered 67 cut-to-length machines and 44 harvester heads to Brazil and Uruguay, a deal with Brazil’s Bahia Pulp and its Uruguayan contractors that also includes training and service. Also at the Finnish supplier, Hannu Kivela has been appointed development director, responsible for co-operation between Ponsse and forest companies, and to develop the CTL method in all markets. www.ponsse.com.
•    Silas Nichols has joined the Oilgear Company as vice president,     Aftermarket Business Unit. www.oilgear.com.

Environmental objectives are good, but when they dovetail with powerful economic drivers you’ve really got a potent cocktail. That’s the concoction the folks at Bowater’s northern Quebec operations are downing these days, as demands to reduce forest machine fuel consumption under their CSA-Z809 certification scheme combine with stubbornly high diesel prices to create what at the outset looks like a win-win-win scenario.

Twenty years ago, logging contractors could run successful operations without keeping particularly close tabs on their cost and production statistics.  Back-of-the-envelope calculations and year-end assessments of the size of the bank account were often adequate to ensure the business was on track.  

Feller bunchers and felling heads have improved by leaps and bounds in the 18 years or so I’ve been at this, but one thing that has remained largely unchanged is the buncher’s business end – The saw tooth. Until now that is. Maurice Micacchi, president of Timberblade Inc., has been around logging gear for decades. He was among the original designers at Koehring Waterous, and until last year was R&D manager with John Deere (and Timberjack before that) in Woodstock, ON. When Deere closed the doors at the old Timberjack plant in that town, Maurice struck out on his own to literally cut his teeth on a new idea.

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