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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

November 2014

On the Cover:

Sawmills in the Canadian forest industry continued to be active places this fall, thanks to healthy U.S. housing starts—which were recently over the one million mark for the third time this year—and continuing demand for lumber from China, as well as steady demand from other markets. Add to this a lower loonie, and the outlook for the industry looks reasonably bright going into 2015.
(Millyard photo by Tony Kryzanowski)

Fort Nelson wants your sawmill
If you’re looking to set up a sawmill operation, B.C.’s Northern Rockies Regional Municipality and the town of Fort Nelson want to talk to you—and they have a basket of sustainable green timber in their back pocket.

One-two punch in harvesting equipment
B.C.’s Mattey Bros. Logging has a relatively new one-two punch on the harvesting end these days, in the form of a John Deere 959K tracked feller buncher and an 870C Tigercat tracked buncher, and both machines are delivering the goods.

Harvesting trees—and crops
A logging and farming combination approach to business is working well for brothers Marcel and Alain Chalifour of logging contactor Almar Limbing in Saskatchewan, with the brothers sometimes dividing their time between harvesting trees, and crops.

Malakwa mill resurrection
A sawmill in the small B.C. Interior town of Malakwa has been resurrected with some capital—and plenty of hard work—and is now producing green hemlock lumber for the Chinese market.

Ready for Mother Nature
B.C. Interior logging contractor John Himech Logging Ltd has to be ready for whatever Mother Nature sends their way—including wildfires that can throw harvesting schedules out of whack.

Award-winning sawmill partnership
The award-winning Opitciwan sawmill partnership between Resolute Forest Products and the Atkamekw Council of Obedjiwan Quebec First Nations stands out as a model for other First Nations/forest industry partnerships across Canada.

The Edge
Included in The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions…

The Last Word
Jim Stirling talks about how B.C.’s Forest Practices Board keeps an eye on the forests.

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New & Noted: at Timber Processing and Energy Expo in Portland, Oregon

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Mattey Bros. LoggingOne-Two punch in harvesting equipment

B.C.’s Mattey Bros. Logging has a relatively new one-two punch on the harvesting end these days, in the form of a John Deere 959K tracked feller buncher and an 870C Tigercat tracked buncher, and both machines are delivering the goods.

Mattey Bros. Logging’s 959K tracked buncher working in steep slopes in B.C’s Southern Interior (photo courtesy of Mattey Bros Logging).

Logging & Sawmilling Journal - November 2014

By Paul MacDonald

Mattey Bros. Logging of Chase, B.C. has a relatively new one-two punch on the harvesting end these days.

Over the last year or so, the logging contractor, based in the Shuswap Region in B.C.’s Southern Interior, has introduced a John Deere 959K tracked feller buncher and an 870C Tigercat tracked buncher, both tilting machines, into their equipment line-up. And both machines, according to Mattey Bros.’ Danny Mattey, and his son, Dan, are delivering the goods in both the licencee harvesting they do, as well as in timber sales.

John Deere equipment is not new to Mattey Bros—the contractor has had a long and successful relationship with Deere, and B.C. Deere equipment dealer, Brandt Tractor. In fact, they’ve dealt with the same sales person at the company for decades, and the Deere equipment has worked well, year-in, year-out, in the steep slopes, hot weather and deep snow of the Southern Interior.

In addition to the 959K machine, Mattey Bros also have two other Deere machines, an 853 buncher and a 903 buncher.

The Tigercat 870C buncher is new to the operation—it’s their first piece of Tigercat equipment and, so far, it’s proving its stuff. “We had not been looking specifically for purpose-built equipment,” said Danny Mattey. “It was a matter of what works.” And opportunity. The 870C was doing contract work for them, and they bought the machine from its owner. “It only had a couple of thousand hours on it,” says Danny. “And it’s always good to try something different.”

Both of the bunchers bring some solid power and features with them.

The 959K, part of Deere’s 900 series of machines, is equipped with a John Deere PowerTech 6090H engine delivering 286 hp, has maximum boom depth of 29 ft. 4 inches, and tractive effort of 86,300 lbf.

Mattey Bros. LoggingThe 959K, along with its 900 series siblings, is said to lower daily operating costs and simplify maintenance, with what Deere says is best-in-class fuel efficiency. Easy, wide-open access to checkpoints makes quick work of daily checks, while a clean hydraulics layout, common hydraulic components, and spin-on filters ease maintenance.

The leveling system on the 959K keeps the upper frame parallel to the ground, even when the tracks are climbing or tilting. The system tilts 26 degrees forward, seven degrees rearward, and 14 degrees to either side, keeping the operator in a comfortable, level position

Visibility is good, due to the wide expanse of front and side glass, a skylight, and a bottom window. Joysticks and low-effort controls with backlit indicators are conveniently located within the adjustable armrests.

Making the initial deal for equipment such as the 959K is important, but of course the service that follows is key to the equipment being efficient and productive for Mattey Bros. “We get good service from Brandt Tractor—they have a branch just down the highway in Kamloops,” says Danny.

Mattey Bros. LoggingThe newest piece of equipment for Mattey Bros. is Waratah's new four-roller processing head, the HTH622C 4x4 (above). This new multi-stemming model is approximately 800 lbs heavier than the company's popular 622B three roller model
and has many new innovative and productive features punctuated by Waratah's proven 4x4 drive system
.

Tigercat’s 870C feller buncher is said to be suited to high production final felling in difficult and demanding forest conditions. A Cummins QSL9 Tier III engine delivers 300 hp. It features 75,000 lbf tractive effort for high performance in extreme terrain.

The 870C has a refined, efficient hydraulic system, high capacity cooling, good access to all major components, and a superior operator’s station, says Tigercat.

The 870C is the result of over a decade of ongoing engineering enhancements and field testing and in some of the harshest forest environments. The 870C performs exceptionally well in a wide variety of applications from demanding high cycle felling applications to tall, oversize timber, according to Tigercat.

Tigercat says the machines operate in the tropics and Siberia at both temperature extremes, so the 870C buncher at Mattey Bros should do just fine in the B.C. Interior, with its extreme hot and cold temperatures.

The machine features Tigercat’s ER boom system with operator controlled on/off switch. ER technology reduces boom cycle times, increases productivity, reduces fuel consumption and requires less effort from the operator. It has twin swing drives for powerful swing torque and reduced pinion loads for extended swing system life.

The 870C has dedicated pumps for both saw and clamp arms, and features the Tigercat-built FH400 forest duty undercarriage with long track frames and wide stance carbody. In B.C., the Tigercat dealer is Inland Kenworth Parker Pacific Equipment, which also has a branch in nearby Kamloops.

“Pretty much everyone is in Kamloops,” says Danny, which is a big help for them. They can usually get parts the same day, or at the latest, the next day. “That helps us to keep the equipment up and running. We keep an inventory of minor parts around the shop, and we can usually patch things together if we have a problem, if we have to wait. But we don’t have to wait very often.”

Mattey Bros also has a good sized equipment boneyard, which comes in handy on a regular basis. They’ve reached in there for a skidder rear end, as well as smaller items, such as cylinders.

On the processing side of the operation, Deere 2154 carriers with Waratah 622B heads are their choice of production machine. They also have an older Volvo 210BF carrier, with a Waratah head.

Mattey Bros. LoggingMattey Bros. Logging has a four-bay service shop on the outskirts of the town of Chase, right on the Trans-Canada Highway, which is often central to where they are logging—but sometimes not. They have a service truck, with a heavy duty mechanic, that takes care of the more further out operations.

The Waratah heads, like the Deere equipment, have proven to be solid performers.

“We’ve tried out the Southstar head, and it worked fine, too,” says Danny. “But we’d have to go with their bigger head if we went with Southstar, so that would mean some other changes in the operation, such as going to larger carriers. At this point, the 622B heads do everything we need to do.”

While they do some timber sales work for nearby North Enderby Timber, most of their work is for Canoe Forest Products Ltd., near Salmon Arm, in the Okanagan Timber Supply Area, surrounding Shuswap Lake. In 2012, Canoe Forest Products joined the Kelowna-based Gorman Family of Companies, when Federated Co-operatives sold its forest products operations.

Working in the Canoe licence, Danny said they are harvesting good stands of big fir, very few of which can’t be handled by the bunchers. He noted that sometimes double cutting is required with the bigger wood.

In this area of B.C. they have not seen much in the way of beetle killed wood on the licence, though they have run into a fair bit of it from time to time doing the timber sales.

Like every logging operation, Mattey Bros pulled in the reins in terms of equipment spending during the downturn. “We did what we could, but you still have to keep everything in good shape and you can’t be broke down—you have to do what you need to do to make the operation work,” says Danny.

Mattey Bros. LoggingDanny Mattey (left) has spent almost 50 years in the logging business. These days, Danny oversees the shop and son, Dan, takes care of operations in the bush.

But it has now made some solid investments, with the buncher purchases in the last year or so. They also replaced two skidders, picking up two Deere 748 H skidders, from Brandt Tractor. “We’re doing fine with loaders right now—we usually try to have a spare loader around.”

They have a four-bay service shop on the outskirts of the town of Chase, right on the Trans-Canada Highway.

“The shop is sometimes central to where we’re logging—and sometimes it’s not,” says Danny. He notes they have had logging operations spread all over the region, from Golden to the east, Lumby to the south, and Clearwater in the north. “The work we do for Canoe is fairly close by, though, so the shop works well for that. Otherwise, we just get out there and fix the equipment, wherever it is.”

They have a service truck, with a heavy duty mechanic, that takes care of the more further out operations, and two heavy duty mechanics are usually at the shop.

They work to get all the equipment in to the shop at least once a year. “If we can get them in during break-up in the spring, we’ll go over them then and do hose work and anything else. And if some of the machines are working through break-up, we’ll work to get them in afterwards, to do what we might need to get done.”

Danny, Dan (right) and Dan’s son, Gavin.

Danny says their equipment operators, most of whom are very long term, are good at spotting maintenance issues in advance, and giving the shop or service truck a head’s up about any problems. He notes that many employees have been with the company for 20 years or longer; his foreman, Dale Becker, has been with the operation for 35 years.

Even though Mattey Bros is working with a solid crew these days, Danny reinforces what the industry itself has been saying about finding qualified operators and mechanics—in short, they are going to be tough to find.

Mattey Bros. LoggingThe operation has an advantage in that it is located in one of the most beautiful spots in B.C. The office and shop is just up the hill from Little Shuswap Lake. For anyone into the outdoors, it’s paradise. And it’s very much a paradise compared to some of the somewhat dismal workplaces in Alberta’s oil patch, which has been successful at drawing workers away from B.C.

“It can be a challenge getting people, especially if you’re trying to do more work,” says Danny.

In 2013, they increased volume, logging on five sides vs. the usual four sides. “It worked fine, but there’s just that much more to look after,” said Danny. And with the extra people and equipment that can be involved, sometimes it’s a question whether the profit margin is sufficient for the extra effort. Taking on additional volume can help spread the costs over more operations, though.

“When it works, it helps,” says Danny. “But you have to be careful because it doesn’t always work.”

As with all contractors, fuel costs are a concern. Even though oil prices have come down substantially in the last six months or so, that has yet to translate into much lower prices at the pump. The new John Deere and Tigercat bunchers are more fuel efficient though. That, along with their higher productivity, means they are getting more production for every litre of fuel used.

An issue Danny sees coming up for the industry is Diesel Emission Control Systems (DECS), which they are going to have to contend with, as well.

Mattey Bros. LoggingBut DECS is just the latest thing for Danny to deal with in his decades-long career in the logging industry, which spans almost 50 years. He was born in Chase, as was his father, who started a pole business in 1932, and then moved into the woods, doing horse logging. Danny’s grandfather was also involved in the forest industry.

The horse logging was soon replaced with horse power, with the skidding done by Cat dozers. Danny’s son, Dan, started working in the operation while he was still a teenager. These days, working with hauling foreman Bob McLellan, Dan takes care of operations in the bush, while Danny holds the fort at the shop, and takes care of their 12 Western Star Trucks, from James Western Star in Kamloops. They also use a number of hired trucks in their logging operations.

Overseeing the trucks is fitting since Danny started out his career in the seat of a logging truck. He’s also turned his fair share of wrenches. At this point, he’s done pretty well everything you need to do in logging, with the exception of operating harvesting equipment.

Danny recently turned 65, and has no plans to retire. “I really like what I’m doing—why would I want to retire?” His father worked in the business until he was 82.

And he’s also witnessing the next generation of the Mattey Family—Dan’s son, Gavin—starting to get involved in the business, which he understandably takes pride in. “From my grandfather to Gavin, that is five generations in the industry,” he says.

And when the time is right, Danny and Dan are ready to pass on what they know, about how to best operate a logging business.

Danny says there are really no secrets. “It’s just about getting out there and getting it done. You make sure the guys have what they need in terms of equipment, and make sure they get home safe at night.”