News
Feb. 23, 2017 - EACOM Timber Corporation welcomes news by Canadian Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr of the creation of the Federal-Provincial Task Force on Softwood Lumber, which will coordinate current programs and assess domestic initiatives as Canada continues to negotiate with the United States.

''We thank the Canadian Government for its efforts to reconcile the needs across the country and are grateful to the Ontario and Quebec Governments for their advocacy to safeguard their provincial softwood lumber industries'' said Kevin Edgson, EACOM CEO.

For EACOM, which operates 7 sawmills in Ontario and Quebec, access to the American market is critical to maintain and grow our business. Given the importance of Canadian softwood lumber imports to the U.S. economy, the company was disappointed that the U.S. Lumber Coalition filed a petition with the Department of Commerce to institute duties to be imposed on Canadian softwood lumber shipments to the United States.

''Collaboration between federal and provincial governments, along with industry, will be paramount as we position ourselves to defend Canada's interests. Canada-U.S. trade is of vital importance for both countries. Arriving at an appropriate resolution is possible when you have two partners willing and ready to work through the issues,'' added Edgson.

In the face of uncertainty, EACOM has been committed to strengthening its balance sheet and maintaining strong assets to position us for future stability and growth. Many of our mills have a long, rich history, having been part of their communities for over 100 years. Since 2012, EACOM has invested over $63 million in its Ontario and Quebec facilities to increase production and employment levels. Investments such as these demonstrate our commitment to enhancing Canada's softwood lumber industry and associated communities to the health and prosperity that should be theirs.
Feb. 22, 2017 - The BC Lumber Trade Council (BCLTC) welcomes the announcement Wednesday by Natural Resources Canada to establish a federal-provincial task force on softwood lumber.

“BC lumber producers welcome Minister Jim Carr’s initiative to create a task force on softwood lumber to share information and coordinate programs that promote innovation and market diversification in the forest sector,” said Susan Yurkovich, president of the BC Lumber Trade Council. “Coordination of efforts between the federal and provincial governments is critical as we work to understand the potential impacts of the softwood lumber trade dispute with the U.S. on our workers and communities.”

“We appreciate that the federal government, including the Prime Minister, Minister Chrystia Freeland, Minister Jim Carr and Ambassador David MacNaughton, have made softwood lumber a top priority,” said Yurkovich. “They, along with industry and provincial governments, are doing everything possible to defend our interests on softwood lumber.”

“We welcome this enhanced coordination between the federal and provincial governments,” added Yurkovich. “The BC Lumber Trade Council will continue to work alongside governments to seek a resolution to this dispute.”

B.C. is the largest producer of softwood lumber and represents about 50 per cent of Canadian exports to the U.S. The B.C. forest industry is the cornerstone of the provincial economy, and supports approximately 145,000 direct and indirect jobs in the province. The BC Lumber Trade Council is the voice on trade matters for companies in British Columbia representing the majority of B.C. lumber production.
Feb. 22, 2017 - At this year’s Elmia Wood the unmanned aerial vehicles will have their own separate section called the Drone Zone. The fair is collaborating with UAS Forum Sweden, which arranges Sweden’s leading conference in the field, and which is assembling experts and suppliers for the fair.

“I hope visitors to Elmia Wood will go home having realised that drones are not a futuristic vision but are mature technology ready to be used in the forest industry.” So says Hans Thunander, a certified forester who is already working with drones in the forest.

“There will be presentations and shows several times each day,” explains Urban Wahlberg of UAS Forum. “The exhibitors will be leading suppliers of applications and equipment.”

Drones are not completely new at Elmia’s forestry fairs. Hans Thunander says futuristic technology was exhibited at the previous edition of the fair to inspire the forest industry to think of new applications for the drones. Now they are a mature tool ready to be used.

“To me a drone is like a pair of binoculars that can see around corners,” he says. “It’s just as natural an aid as the other technology we’re already using.”

Survey larger areas

Drones are strongly associated with camera surveillance but that is not their purpose in the forest. Instead they are used to gain an overview of larger areas. Using various types of sensors they can find windthrow, monitor stressed trees, count game and so on.

“Just imagine not having to walk and drive through large tracts of land after a storm,” Thunander says as an example. “With a drone you can concentrate your efforts on where the damage is.”

Because Elmia Wood is held out in the forest, the drones can be demonstrated in realistic conditions. The Drone Zone is located along Elmia Wood’s large-scale forest trail. Visitors can see with their own eyes the practical benefits of using drones.

“The fair is designed to be the place where the international forest industry discovers the latest technologies and applications,” says Jakob Hirsmark, Exhibition Manager for Elmia Wood.

“Drones are becoming an ever-more important part of forestry within the immediate future and that’s why they have a self-evident place at the world’s biggest forestry fair.”



Elmia Wood is the world’s leading forestry fair and is held every four years outdoors in the forests south of Jönköping, Sweden. The last Elmia Wood (2013) had over 500 exhibitors and 50,000 visitors from around the world and was widely reported on by the international trade press. From June 7–10, 2017 the global forest industry will meet again.

www.elmiawood.com
Feb. 22, 2017 - Forest company leaders from across Alberta met with Premier Notley to discuss Alberta’s trading relationship with the United States and the future vitality of Alberta’s forest sector.

“We greatly appreciate the dedication of Premier Notley and her government to this very important file,” said Paul Whittaker, president and CEO of the Alberta Forest Products Association. “By working closely together, we can ensure a strong future for the forest sector and the thousands of Albertans who work in it.”

Meeting participants also included Honourable Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade and Honourable Oneil Carlier, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. Topics of discussion included developing new uses for forest products in Alberta, expanding exports to Asian markets, and dealing with challenges posed by the softwood lumber dispute with the United States. As Alberta’s largest export market, trading relationships with the United States are very important. Alberta exports approximately $2 billion worth of forest products, including lumber, pulp, and paper to the American market.

Forestry is an important part of a diversified Alberta economy. In addition to 18,000 direct jobs, the sector creates an additional 36,000 jobs through its economic activity. This includes equipment and supply sales, consulting, road building and maintenance, and hospitality. Forestry also supports jobs in homebuilding, construction, transportation and logistics, and environmental sciences.


The Alberta Forest Products Association is a private, non-profit industry organization, representing lumber, panelboard, pulp and paper, and secondary manufacturing wood products companies operating in Alberta. AFPA member companies are active participants in sustainability advancements that contribute economic, environmental, and social benefits for Albertans.
Feb. 22, 2017 - B.C. Premier Christy Clark has announced $150 million for the Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia to plant tens of millions more trees, which will help fight climate change and create more than 3,000 jobs in rural British Columbia.

“This is an investment in our forests, in B.C.’s rural communities – and the world’s clean air,” said Clark. “This initiative is another example of how we do business in B.C., striking a balance between environmental protection and economic priorities. That’s the approach that has built Canada’s leading economy, and a world-recognized leader on climate action.”

The $150 million will be transferred in the 2016-17 fiscal year as a lump-sum payment to the independent Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia to advance environmental stewardship and, in particular, focus on reforestation initiatives throughout the province. This is in addition to the $85 million government allocated in 2015-16 to the society.

“The rehabilitation and reforestation of damaged forest stands will provide significant greenhouse gas benefits and increase the use of low-quality fibre,” said Jim Snetsinger, vice-chair, Forest Enhancement Society of British Columbia. “The society is pleased to receive this funding and we will work with government agencies, First Nations, forest licensees and stakeholders to achieve these important objectives.”

This one-time investment builds on existing programs within the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations to support the implementation of the Forest Carbon Initiative. This initiative includes a suite of activities under B.C.’s Climate Leadership Plan, which target the reduction of carbon emissions in the forest sector and the capture of carbon through the restoration of forests damaged by disease and wildfire.

“Since 2005, we’ve invested over $445 million in reforestation through Forests for Tomorrow,” said Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson. “Today’s funding will build on those efforts and ensure our children can enjoy the environmental and economic benefits we enjoy from our forests.”
Feb. 17, 2017 - In the midst of the ongoing softwood lumber dispute between Canada and the United States, Ontario's minister of Natural Resources and Forestry has called upon the federal minister of Natural Resources to implement a federal loan guarantee program to help support the forestry industry and the communities that rely on it.

Minister Kathryn McGarry brought the proposal forward in a letter to Minister Jim Carr. 

McGarry says the loan guarantee program "would also ensure that all affected producers are treated equally, as opposed to participating in a variety of provincially based programs."

She says that approximately $5 billion worth of duties were forcibly paid by Canadian softwood lumber producers in the last round of trade negotiations.

She says Ontario's goal is for Canada as a whole to maintain market access, and to minimalize the blow of impending duties as much as possible on softwood lumber producers. 

McGarry says it is likely that Canadian softwood lumber producers will be paying taxes imposed by the U.S. government by May 2017.
Feb. 15, 2017 - The Ontario Wood Award is presented to individuals or organizations that have made outstanding contributions to the support and promotion of local wood. The 2017 Award was presented at Forests Ontario's Annual Conference, held at the Nottawasaga Inn in Alliston, Ontario. This year's recipient was Jeff Muzzi, Chief Forester at Ensyn Technologies, in recognition of more than forty years of work in forest management.

A program of the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry, Ontario Wood highlights locally-sourced wood as a renewable, ecologically friendly material that supports economic growth and opportunity across the province. The award was presented by the Honourable Kathryn McGarry, Ontario Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Throughout his career, Muzzi's work in Renfrew County has helped establish the region's reputation as one of Canada's leaders in sustainable forest management. This work in turn supports the development of local wood products and solutions.

Muzzi is a third generation forester whose career has encompassed a range of responsibilities, including forest firefighter, timber cruising, supervising logging operations, and supporting forest management operations throughout Renfrew County.

Recalling four decades in the field, during which the forest became something of a second home, Muzzi says, "I worked alone in the bush for months at a time, timber cruising, laying out roads and cut blocks." His memories include, "spending the night in a lake because I got caught in a forest fire and spending months living in a tent in wilderness areas."

Muzzi currently serves as Chief Forester at Ensyn Technologies, which produces pyrolysis oil from sawmill residue for use in heating and transportation operations. Muzzi ensures that all raw materials used in the process come from sustainably managed forests. Muzzi's work illustrates one of the many ways in which managed forests serve as the source of creative products and solutions. His work is closely tied to Forests Ontario's It Takes A Forest (ITAF) collaborative that delivers fact-based information to the public about the role of forests in growing our economy, addressing climate change and creating a healthier ecosystem.

As an early supporter of the ITAF collaborative, Muzzi is an instrumental voice in promoting the campaign to bring greater awareness to the countless ways in which forests and forest products have contributed to growth in the province and positively impacted the lives of Ontarians.

"The award winners at this year's conference have made an immense contribution to Ontario's forests," expressed Rob Keen, Forests Ontario's CEO. "Each award winner embodies the values of the It Takes A Forest collaborative by promoting and supporting all the values our forests provide, including building and sustaining healthy communities, and fighting climate change."

2017 award recipients include:

  • Most Valuable Planter (MVP) - Rick Grillmayer
  • Robert De Pencier Forest Stewardship Award - Martin Streit
  • Green Legacy Award – Del Ridge Homes
  • Susan Wiecek Forestry Education Award – City of Peterborough, Trent University, and Otonabee Regional Conservation Authority
  • Ontario Forestry Association Award – Harvey Anderson
  • White Pine Award – Kaitlin and Lauren Grierson
Feb. 15, 2017 - Four months before Elmia Wood opens, the organizers confirm it will be the world’s biggest forestry fair ever.

“By January we’d already sold more stand space than at the previous Elmia Wood in 2013,” says exhibition manager Jakob Hirsmark.

Elmia Wood has been the world’s leading forestry fair for many years. Decision-makers from around the world come here to experience the latest technology in use. This time the fair will be bigger and broader than ever. Work continues daily to build new roads and lay out new areas in the forests south of Jönköping, Sweden.

Three new sections will welcome visitors. The biggest of these is Load & Transport with its theme of forest roads, logistics and timber handling. Big-name exhibitors planning major programmes in this section include MAN, Liebherr, Volvo and Tatra.

“It’s unusual to have such a strong and immediate response for a new section,” Hirsmark says. 

Another new section is the Drone Zone. As the name suggests, the theme is drones. Elmia is cooperating with UAS Forum, which organizes the Nordic region’s leading conference on unmanned aerial vehicles. The exhibitors are leading suppliers of aerial products and services. Several times each day there will be aerial shows, demonstrations and talks.

Hunting is the third new section. Wildlife management is part of active forest management and the Hunting section brings together exhibitors, target practice ranges, food made from game and other activities.

New knowledge to acquire

Forestry decision-makers can gain high-quality knowledge from the programme of seminars in the Event Tent. The seminars planned so far are entitled: Invasive species, Precision forestry, Careful logging, Remote sensing, and Technological leaps for future forestry. Germany’s KWF is also holding daily discussion forums for the German-speaking public.

The fair as a whole is more clearly divided by theme to make it easier for visitors to find the exhibitors they want. This is also reflected in the fair catalogue and other information. This arrangement is necessary because Elmia Wood is growing and would otherwise be hard to navigate.

“We recommend a couple of days at the fair so you can have time to discover everything that’s happening in the forest industry,” Hirsmark says.

The fair’s international representatives are working hard now to help forestry professionals from some 50 markets to arrange their travel to the forests south of Jönköping in June. Everything is coming together so that the world’s leading forestry fair can be the biggest and most visited ever.



Elmia Wood is the world’s leading forestry fair and is held every four years outdoors in the forests south of Jönköping, Sweden. The last Elmia Wood (2013) had over 500 exhibitors and 50,000 visitors from around the world and was widely reported on by the international trade press. From June 7–10, 2017 the global forest industry will meet again.

www.elmiawood.com
Feb. 15, 2017 - German-based equipment repair and maintenance company Castolin Eutectic Group has announced the acquisition of Furnace Mineral Products (FMP), Inc. a privately owned ceramic coating corporation based in Toronto. FMP specializes in the research, development, manufacture and field application of innovative, inorganic-hybrid coatings. These coatings have found success primarily in the power generation industry but are also applicable across a spectrum of industries where innovative wear or corrosion protection solutions are required. 

FMP enjoys a presence in the USA as well as more recently entering markets in the Middle East and Asia. Adding FMP to the Castolin Eutectic Group follows other recent acquisitions like Whertec Inc. and Monitor Coatings. Both Whertec’s and FMP’s application capabilities fit well to Castolin Eutectic’s 111 years of dedication to conserve the earth’s resources, enhance plant performance and reduce maintenance costs through technology, quality and service level.
Feb. 14, 2017 - The Council of Forest Industries, in partnership with Canadian Forest Industries and London Drugs, launched a photo contest in September to highlight the B.C. forest industry of today. Our goal was to capture the innovation, commitment to sustainability, diversity, people and communities that make the forest industry great. The photographs that we received really showcase the essence of the industry and the spirit of the people.
Feb. 13, 2017 - The Canadian pickup truck market is huge. It caters to the multiple needs of work, institutional and personal trucks; sometimes all in one. In fact, pickups that serve the workplace and family are becoming the norm. This fact alone makes choosing the right one simply that much more complex.
Feb. 8, 2017 - Tembec is pleased to announce the appointment of Pierre Gignac to the Board of Directors of the Company. Mr. Gignac joins Tembec's Board with broad international experience and expertise in Enterprise Risk Management, Corporate Governance, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Finance. Mr. Gignac served as the senior vice-president of Enterprise Risk Management and chief risk officer at Export Development Canada (EDC), as acting president and acting chief executive officer of EDC from June 3, 2013 to February 2014 and in a variety of senior roles at EDC from the time he first joined in 1999. EDC, a Crown corporation, is Canada's export credit agency, providing financing and insurance solutions locally and around the world to help Canadian companies of any size respond to international business opportunities.

He has been an independent director of Orbite Technologies Inc. since Feb. 23, 2016. Mr. Gignac is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, and a chartered financial analyst. He is a graduate of Columbia University's senior executive program and from Laval University in Quebec City.

Mr. Gignac will assume the seat of Mr. Michel Dumas who remains as executive vice-president of finance and chief financial officer of the company.

Tembec is a manufacturer of forest products — lumber, pulp, paper, and specialty cellulose. Principal operations are in Canada and France. Tembec has approximately 3,000 employees and annual sales of approximately $1.5 billion. Tembec is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TMB).
Feb. 1, 2017 - BC Forest Safety ombudsman Roger Harris says forestry workers are not receiving emergency help quickly enough in rural or remote areas.

In a report released on Wednesday, the ombudsman says that rural communities are impacted twice as much as their urban counterparts, adding that injured workers often wait many hours before being rescued via air ambulance.

Harris cited the example of an injured logger on the Haida Gwaii archipelago in 2014. The logger, whose leg was crushed, waited more than five hours to be taken to hospital — a trip that should have taken 20 minutes via helicopter. The report goes on to say the injured logger waited another six hours before being transported to a Vancouver hospital.

“For remote communities, as the distance to the nearest medical facility increases, the access to HEMS should be enhanced, not reduced,” Harris says.

The ombudsman’s recommendations include establishing guaranteed rescue timelines, reviewing the effectiveness of legislation, and the expanding the use of the hoisting rescue technique versus longlining in B.C.
Jan. 31, 2017 - KLONDIKE Lubricants Corporation announced Monday the expansion of their distribution network to Atlantic Canada. The company has been growing from its West Coast origins, manufacturing and distributing OEM certified packaged and bulk oils, industrial lubricants and chemicals throughout the Canadian market. Warehousing and distribution centres have increased significantly in the home-base of Vancouver, and have grown over the years to include facilities in Edmonton, Alta., Winnipeg, Man., Toronto, Ont., and now Moncton, N.B., as part of a planned North American expansion.

New Distribution Facility in New Brunswick

In January 2017, the company added a new distribution facility in Moncton, N.B., to meet the increasing demand for KLONDIKE lubricating oils and greases. The warehousing centre will enable faster delivery to dealers and customers in the Atlantic Provinces – New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and the easternmost province of Newfoundland and Labrador. At the same time, the company met with prospective dealers in Moncton, to kick off expansion in Atlantic Canada.

The KLONDIKE product range includes a wide range of formulations for most applications in any climate and condition. The product categories are heavy duty and automotive engine oils, gear lubricants, transmission fluids, hydraulic fluids, industrial and functional oils, greases, and chemicals. With over 270 oils, lubricants and chemicals, KLONDIKE is used in the agricultural, automotive, marine, mining and drilling, forestry, construction, road-building, and on-road and off-road transport industries.

“KLONDIKE started in 1987, as a chemical and lubricants supplier to the OEM Dealer Networks and professional service and repair facilities throughout Canada,” said Brad Mitchell, vice-president of sales & marketing at KLONDIKE Lubricants. “We are known by a demanding customer base for our dedication to quality and outstanding service to a broad range of industries. This has led to a rapid level of growth that we are pleased to now bring to Atlantic Canada.”

Vice-president of finance & operations for KLONDIKE, Phil Jenner added, “For the significant number of new dealers coming on board in the Maritimes, the latest distribution facility in New Brunswick will allow for a fast and cost-effective way to deliver the KLONDIKE heavy duty, industrial and automotive oils and lubricants. We were extremely impressed with prospective distributors we met in Moncton.”
 

KLONDIKE stands for robust, reliable, high quality products tailored to suit the requirements of the on- and off-road heavy duty, automotive and industrial markets. Technically advanced and quality assured, the KLONDIKE lubricants are certified by Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Volvo, Mack, Renault, GM dexos1, GM Dexron VI and Ford Mercon LV. The extensive KLONDIKE product range includes 270 lubricating oils and greases engineered to perform under the most extreme climates and operating conditions. The KLONDIKE lubricants protect and extend the life of your equipment, optimize performance and improve productivity. To learn more, visit www.klondikelubricants.com
Jan. 30, 2017 - The 74th annual Truck Loggers Association Convention & Tradeshow rolled through Vancouver for three intensive days in January. Education was on the top of the agenda with maximum capacity audiences catching the impressive lineup of subject matter experts. The “Not In My Backyard” panel was chippy with stakeholders from tourism, labour, government and association taking shots at one another and agreeing to disagree. The First Nations panel “In it for the long, long run” provided a great deal of insight on trends in respectful forestry engagement and consent with First Nations. Hegus (Chief) Clint Williams of the Tla'amin Nation reflected on partnerships, lessons learned and the necessity to have the proper checks and balances in place; “Partnerships made us successful. Without partnerships, we would have still be stuck in some troubled waters and wouldn’t have been able to create some of these new jobs.”

While Premier Christy Clark campaigned to fight for B.C.’s softwood lumber industry, the “Greed, Fear or Folly” market update panel was less than optimistic. Still, the overwhelming reoccurring theme of the conference was steep slope harvesting.

Dzhamal Amishev, researcher for Vancouver based FPInnovations, has spent the last 8.5 years researching steep slope harvesting. “I’ve seen most of the winch systems which have obviously been the big focus of the developments recently,” Amishev said during the “Steep Slopes – Where are We Now” panel. “Steep slope harvesting has been called a revolution. Is it really a revolution? We’ll see.”

Steep slopes posts challenges, and probably the biggest one is safety. Taking people out of the elements and protecting them in the cab is the most important thing. “We all want everyone to go home to their loved ones,” Amishev said. “Happy employees, environmental protection, improved productivity. These machines have the opportunity to help. With safety, they take the operators off of the hillside with their hands on a chainsaw and puts them into a protected environment even in rollovers.”

According to Amishev, in the last 18 months, the number of steep slope machines has skyrocketed. “The interest is huge. Most purchasers claim that safety is their priority. It is about the people, which is why it is gaining traction.”

Amishev’s presentation included several steep slope equipment failures from around the world. Cables, shackles and connectors have broken. In one case a whole winch detached from the end of a machine. In another case, a machine tipped over. But none of these have caused any injuries or serious damage to the equipment. “We should celebrate these,” Amishev said. “This is what we learn from. We’re not aware of any incident with winch-assist in Canada. But if there is one, don’t be afraid to speak up because that is when we will be learning. And these are gifts we should welcome.”

In one incident that Amishev covered, a drawbar failed. It was rated at a 24 ton safe working load and would have required nearly 90 tons to break; a force which is nearly impossible to reach with a 40 ton machine. So how did it break? “The failure was because the drawbar was designed for a straightline pull. In this application, it had been torqued and twisted with 3,000 hours of abuse. It failed at a gentle 36 per cent slope. It basically just fell off.” Since then, one of the improvements has been swivelling and pivoting attachment points.

Another incident Amishev discussed involved a feller buncher machine on a 62 per cent slope harvesting windblown trees when the operator lost his footing on a rock outcrop. The other track started lifted up and he went on his roof. “The cable prevented him from going down the hill but he was still on his roof. What is the lesson here? The operator should be aware of their surroundings; rock outcrops, stumps or anything that will jeopardize their stable position on the hill. I cannot emphasize best practises enough.”

“Operators that have experience with tethered equipment can get over-confident with their ability to manage all of the risks, and that breeds complacency. We all know what complacency leads to, but we all do it. These things happen. All incidents are preventable.”

Amishev recommended event monitoring for further R&D of extreme tension. And not just a screen for the operator to monitor in real time. “The operator is concentrating on his work cutting trees, so there should be some application or alarm that will trigger an alert.”

Anchors are another risk to manage. With the various integrated winch systems, what anchor do you use? Do you use stumps or deadmen? “In New Zealand, most companies have decided to do away with stumps because they fail quite a bit. However, is a stump felling really a big thing if you are not relying on it as a lifeline? That’s something to be looked at.”

But how do you choose a stump? “Choose a strong stump,” jokes Amishev. Well, what is a strong stump? “We all know some species have deeper roots, bigger trees, live trees. It’s common sense, but if no strong stumps are available, use multiple stumps. Fresh, strong soils is another consideration. If you are on a rocky outcrop with loose soil, don’t anchor there. There was also a failure where the rope jumped off the deadman. It was at way too much of an angle and it jumped off.”

Another opportunity for improvement is the end connector. “The system is only as strong as your weakest point. The rope may not be your weakest point in this case. It is evolving. We have done quite a bit but we are still on the bottom of the hill. Literally. Safe practise and due diligence is vital for the continued safety of the industry. Continuous improvement and information-sharing are important. No matter what, winch-assist technology will save lives in British Columbia.”

“The main reason that the industry is faced with the steep slope challenge is because of the tragic loss of life and serious injury to ground-based forestry workers,” said Richard Lawler, director of engineering for John Deere Forestry. “Safety is significantly more important than profitability. It must be first and foremost in all of our thoughts.”

According to Lawler, the mechanization of harvesting on slopes isn’t really a new challenge. Many equipment manufacturers including John Deere have invested significant dollars in the past at trying to solve this challenge. There have been several inventions and innovations that have occurred, however the challenge with those earlier inventions is that they are expensive, complicated and not all that profitable for the customers. As such, customers quickly lost interest. The forestry industry quickly lost interest. And then ultimately the equipment manufacturers quickly lost interest in them also. Therefore, many manufacturers, like many customers, are naturally a little apprehensive about this new opportunity.

“There are many unknowns, but one thing we do know is that as an industry we cannot continue to do the same things and expect to get different result,” Lawler said. Improving the safety and financial sustainability of harvesting forests on steep slopes is really only something that can be solved by bringing the key stakeholders in the whole industry together and working towards a common goal.”

Lawler told attendees that Brazil actually started its steep slope mechanization harvesting venture around the same time as the Kiwis. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been as much information-sharing from Brazil, but Lawler explained a lot has happened there that can be used to learn. Typically the equipment in Brazil is owned by forest companies, not contractors. “They haven’t moved to a contractor model yet. Typically, they operate the machines around 22 hours a day, seven days a week. Most times, for most forest companies, they are only shutting down the machines for two days every year. They are typically averaging around 100 stems per hour. The productive time is around the same. They are using the same amount of fuel, about 20 litres of fuel an hour which is about the same level of fuel compared to traditional ground-based harvesting.”

According to Lawler, the biggest difference has been in forwarding. Brazil has seen a 15 per cent reduction in productivity which has been driven by two facts. “First, you have a winch on the machine which has some weight which takes away from some of the carrying capacity of the forwarder. Secondly, there is less tendency on steep slopes for operators to overload the machine which has a significant impact on productivity. Not that anyone in Canada overloads their forwarders.”

“Operation planning has been something that all forest companies have said they really need to step their game up for,” Lawler said. Companies work hard to have contingency plans to shift machines to other sites in adverse weather conditions. “Having a better site layout has been something that they have really had to focus on.”

They are doing a lot more proactive/pre-emptive maintenance now for machines that are working on slopes. Cable replacement is still being worked on in Brazil. Lawler explained that the Brazilians don’t have any non-destructive cable testing yet although it is something they are working towards. “They are putting in place a replacement cycle for cables. In forwarders, the cables are being used a lot more, they are being replaced every 300 hours. On harvesters, they are replacing them every 500 hours. It does add another cost element into the equation.”

“The Brazilians have had no serious injuries since they moved to tethering,” Lawler said. That has been a significant turnaround from their ground-based work that they were doing previously, which according to Lawler, was a similar accident rate to what we’ve been seeing here in Canada. Lawler explained that while Brazil has seen a 10-15 per cent increase in costs versus ground-based harvesting, it is actually a 30 per cent reduction compared to traditional steep slope harvesting using chainsaw and cable extraction methods.

One of the many challenges that equipment manufacturers are facing is the consistent referencing in most guidelines to the manufacturer’s maximum slope operating stability limits. That’s been a real challenge for most manufacturers. “We see this as the same as asking a car manufacturer,” Lawler said.  “What is the maximum safe speed the car can be driven at? That depends on a number of variables and the same applied to forestry equipment. There are a lot of variables that occur in the forest. Different terrain. Different weather. Similar to what happens on the road. For us to specify the maximum slope operating limit is a real challenge.”

“We’re really heading to the need of having an operator to be some superhuman. There are so many things he now has to do. Not only concentrate on cutting trees but also understand if he is on a rock or a stump and what it is going to do to the stability of the machine,” Lawler said. “We’re doing what we can from a technology standpoint to help mitigate some of those issues. What tools do we provide to operators to tell them what levels they are on? We tell them don’t go above 40 per cent, but we don’t provide them tools to know exactly what level they are on. One of the other things that is really being worked on are methods to show the operator the slopes that they are working on.”

Lawler projected there is going to be more invention and innovation going on to find the optimum balance of tethering, profitability and safety. Ultimately the goal for manufacturers is to improve the operator experience; automating more functions on the machine so the operators can concentrate on the task at hand.

“The average age of a handfaller in British Columbia is 58,” said Jesse Drover, Tigercat owner-operator of JBM Falling Ltd. “The first and foremost objective is to reduce injuries and fatalities. This style of [winch-assist] system limits the exposure to handfallers and rigging crews; two of the highest risk occupations out there. Our next objective is increased productivity. While we are finding, on average, we are having a higher falling cost over conventional methods, we’re aiming at having a cheaper final product at roadside with a greatly reduced amount of cable logging.”

“Working on these steep slopes, we’re not subjected to all the rough weather and seasonal work that handfallers have. All of the falling and yarding is done in one single phase. The system is much more beneficial in short yarding as there is less handling of each stem and less breakage. It’s more efficient than having to go back and cover all the same ground over again. As well as the costs of mobilization and demobilization of bringing grapple yarders and crews in and out every day.”

Drover made it clear, it isn’t possible to access more fibre without proper planning and engineering. “We’re looking to reduce the amount of costly road building we have here on the coast. This machine has 370 metres of cable on it. It can winch itself into these rougher areas, disconnect from it’s tailhold if need be, fall and round up all of the wood.”

“The first leap when you are tethered, have the boom up in the air and you bail off a 40 degree hill, every ounce of your being feels like you’re going to tumble down that hill. It is a very unnatural feeling,” Drover said.”

Drover told attendees it has to succeed. “Failure is not an option. The most frustrating part has been the downtime and being unfamiliar with a complex, high maintenance system. It makes running a couple [of] chainsaws look pretty simple. We’ve had to make several upgrades to the machine. We’ve had several components fail prematurely that we hadn’t budgeted for, but thus far we’ve had excellent support from the Kiwis. They have compensated us for failed parts and had an excellent service department to keep us running. “

According to Drover, these systems are definitely a game changer for logging in B.C., and on the coast.
“There is a huge difference in confidence in being tethered and untethered. The systems are only going to get better, safer, more user-friendly and more reliable in the years to come. Not only will these machines let you work on steeper ground, but different types of ground as well.”

Steep slope wasn’t just a hot topic in the conference, equipment manufacturers and distributors were busy handling questions on the tradeshow floor. “It all started in New Zealand because there was a real shortage of skilled, manual tree fallers in the forests and the industry was suffering from a number of tree felling fatalities,” said Phil McKenzie, equipment sales specialist for Rosewarne and May, manufacturer of the Remote Operated Bulldozer (ROB). “So loggers designed this equipment for loggers. They have taken people off the hills and replaced them with machines.” According to McKenzie, since they have done that, the rate of deaths in New Zealand and Canada have dropped off dramatically. “Not everyone realized at the time that these were being developed what the other spinoffs were, but one of them is environmental. There is less disturbing the ground so soil doesn't end up in the creek through erosion when it rains. ROB is also extremely productive which helps finance the cost of the investment of the machine.”

“Steep slope is here to stay,” McKenzie says. “It's going to continue to evolve. People need to get onboard with new techniques, not just for the safety and environmental benefits also but to get the timber off the hill.”

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