Stella-Jones uses customized loaders
July 2, 2014 - While the Stella-Jones pole processing plants in Prince George and Galloway, British Columbia both report to North America's leading provider of utility poles and railway ties, each facility is responsible for managing its own operation independently. When it came to choosing a replacement for their aging log-handling equipment, the two site managers, working 500 miles apart, came to the same conclusion.
Today, the Prince George and Galloway facilities are both running new purpose-built SENNEBOGEN 830 M-T material handlers.
Bob Stewart was the Plant Manager in Prince George when the purchase of their 830 M-T was proposed to head office. "We looked at 3 or 4 different makes of machines last year, made our decision on Sennebogen and put together the business plan to acquire it."
In Galloway, meanwhile, Richard Harkies was also shopping for new equipment. "We had already looked at the other two big names in material handlers," he recalls. "Then Tom Truman (from the Sennebogen dealer, Great West Equipment) came by and took us to see a Sennebogen demonstration in Lavington. We hadn't actually heard of Sennebogen before then!"
Before the year was out, Galloway had become a Stella-Jones operation and the purchase of the machine went ahead. Great West Equipment delivered the first one of its 830 M-T's to Prince George in January, and the second was delivered to the Galloway Mill in June.
The 830 M-T is a purpose-built material handler for trailer pulling. It has an undercarriage and transmission configuration that's specially built to pull over 100,000 lb. log trailers. The two material handlers were then fitted with Rotobec log grapples. They were also customized to widen out the tines and the tips to minimize damage to the wood. Each was then equipped with a live heel.
While the two sites differ in some ways in their specific application, their managers are equally satisfied that the 830 M-T was the right way to go.
The Prince George plant processes both utility poles and railway ties, so its log handler has to manage moving and loading square timber as well as round wood. "We stack the ties in packs of 25 for air seasoning," says Bob Stewart. "Then we load the bundles onto gondolas for delivery. The 830 M-T pulls a tridem trailer loaded up to 75,000 lbs. It could be a larger sized machine than we really need, but we wanted to be prepared for future demands, too. We anticipate that we'll get 10 to 15 years of service from this unit."
"It has a lot of hydraulic power," he continues. "It takes a fine touch to grab a large load without damaging the wood. These controls are very user-friendly and the hydraulics are very responsive. We also find that the stance of the machine, with its wide wheelbase, is much better for getting around even in soft ground than what we experienced before."
Richard Harkies also cites improvements in mobility among the advantages of the 830 M-T. "We have to drive a half-a-mile from one end of the yard to the other. With a separate transmission on each axle, it pulls smoother and it doesn't shift as hard and it's more stable."
Harkies notes that the extra stability is especially helpful when the operator's cab is elevated. "The high-lift cab is way better for loading rail cars, because you can see the top of the load. The operators can set it at the best height, for comfort, for whatever they are doing. In the spring, after the snow, you can get potholes, which can make it a little rough up there! The wide stance and pneumatic tires smooth out the ride for them."
Stewart and Harkies are both confident that their concerns about the future reliability of their equipment have been answered. Sennebogen's 100,000 sq. ft. headquarters near Charlotte, NC maintains the largest inventory of material handling parts in North America. Great West Equipment, their Sennebogen distributor, also keeps a large stock of off-the-shelf parts for their customers. And Stewart acknowledges the importance of Great West's experience in the industry. "We have been dealing with (Great West representative) Dillon Healey for 8 or 9 years. We always feel that we get a good deal and they're always very helpful making sure that our equipment is perfectly suited to our application."
The stability and smooth pulling power of the 830 M-T is well suited to the 1/2 mile circuits in the log yard.