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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

December/January 2015

On the Cover:
Equipment manufacturer T-Mar Industries is addressing the increasing volumes of second-growth timber on steep slopes in B.C. with its new Log Champ 550 grapple yarder. The first Log Champ 550 is being used by new owners Southview Forest Services Ltd. on Redonda Island, on B.C.’s lower coast, yarding second-growth fir. (Cover photo and story photos courtesy of T-Mar Industries)

The forest industry worker gap—and becoming ‘cool’
The forest industry can no longer assume the huge workforces it has been used to in the past are still going to be there when it needs them. It now needs to capture the hearts and minds of its future workforce—in short, it needs to be considered a ‘cool’ and lucrative career choice.

Safety champion
Don Banasky, president of the Truck Loggers Association and vice-president of operations at fast-growing Tamihi Logging, is a champion of safety in B.C.’s coastal forest industry.

Winning the sawmill battle—and the war
Saskatchewan’s L & M Wood Products is winning the employee training battle, with a program that was actually designed for training people on the manufacturing line in World War II.

True multi-purpose head
B.C.’s Tolko Industries has been trying out the GP grapple processor head, produced by Pierce Pacific, and after six months the multi-purpose GP head has been able to prove its stuff successfully in two different types of trials in the B.C. Interior.

Canada’s newest sawmill revs upLakeland Mills’ newly completed sawmill in Prince George, B.C., is like no other sawmill built before it in terms of production, employing the very latest technology to attain the maximum recovery and value from its available wood fibre—but with a very strong focus on safety.

The New Lakeland Team

More stringent WorkSafeBC
investigation techniques being
introduced

Sinclar Group a PowerSmart leader

Lakeland’s—and the Sinclar
Group’s—rich community history

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 and FPInnovations.

New grapple yarder for British Columbia loggers
Working with its industry-leading design expertise—and with an industry heritage reaching back decades—T-Mar Industries recently introduced the Log Champ 550, its new steep slope grapple yarder designed to take on the increasing volumes of second-growth timber in B.C.

Going four-wheeling with Waratah’s new head
Waratah’s new 622C 4x4 multi-tree processing head with four roller drive is getting solid praise from the folks at McNeil and Sons Logging in the B.C. Interior, where it makes for a solid harvesting combo with a John Deere 2154D carrier.

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GP grapple processor head, manufactured by Pierce Pacific ManufacturingTrue multi-purpose head

B.C.’s Tolko Industries has been trying out the GP grapple processor head, produced by Pierce Pacific, and after six months the multi-purpose GP head has been able to prove its stuff successfully in two different types of trials in the B.C. Interior.

By Paul MacDonald

There’s really no other way to put it: Earl Corsi has a pretty cool job.

Corsi, who is woodlands manager for the Thompson Nicola Woodlands division of forest company Tolko Industries in B.C.’s Southern Interior, has the usual responsibilities of a woodlands manager.

But a special focus for Corsi is to always be on the lookout—and to check out—new types of equipment.

“I’m always looking for new and different logging and log handling equipment,” says Corsi, who works out of Tolko’s office in Heffley Creek, north of Kamloops, B.C.

Which led him directly to the GP grapple processor head, manufactured by Pierce Pacific Manufacturing, at their plant in Portland, Oregon.

In an era of multi-tasking, as we work hard to make the most of our work time and the technology and equipment we have at hand, the Pierce GP grapple processor looks to be the perfect machine for the times. It combines the functions of a grapple and the utility of a processor into a single machine. Loggers can increase their productivity with a machine that sorts, loads and shovels like a grapple—and delimbs, measures and cuts like a processor. Six-plus functions, in one attachment, says the company, and at a price less than that of an ordinary processing head.

The GP allows a single carrier to accomplish tasks that normally tie up two machines, offering loggers significant savings in time, fuel, labor and maintenance costs, not to mention radically improved equipment utilization.

Tolko’s Corsi came across the GP when it was still fairly new, and there were only nine or ten GP heads out there, mostly in Oregon. “At that point, Pierce wasn’t ready to expand beyond that, to Canada. But I let them know we were very interested, and asked them to keep us in mind.”

GP grapple processor head, manufactured by Pierce Pacific ManufacturingFollowing up, Corsi did two “intel” trips to Oregon, to see the Pierce manufacturing facility, and to see the GP in action. Illustrating the company’s level of interest in the GP, one of the trips included members of the founding family of Tolko, the Thorlaksons, who take a keen interest in new and emerging technologies in the forest industry.

From those trips, Tolko confirmed that Pierce was ready to enter the Canadian and B.C. market—and that Tolko would work on their end to help introduce the GP to their contractors.

Tolko has now purchased two of the GP heads, which are being supported and serviced in B.C. by dealer, Inland Parker Pacific.

“We stationed one head in the southern interior of B.C., doing a similar type of wood profile to what they have in Oregon, and what the head was designed for,” explained Corsi. “We took the other GP head to Quesnel, in the Central Interior, and put it in the kind of wood and terrain that it wasn’t necessarily designed for, just to see what it could do.”

And after six months, the GP has been able to prove its stuff successfully in the two different types of trials.

And so far, it’s been a good fit. The unique arm contour of the GP features patent-pending technology that makes it easy to handle timber up to 52” and efficiently feed logs without releasing or re-handling. The grapple arms can handle big timber, and are said to be ideal for picking individual stems, as well as handling multiple logs without crisscrossing.

GP grapple processor head, manufactured by Pierce Pacific ManufacturingA niche Tolko has identified for the GP head are small volume applications, where a contractor might send a processor and a loader in to an area. But the GP is a head that can do both those tasks, allowing the contactor to reduce the number of machines, moving costs, and the number of operators.

The innovative arm design also includes integral feed wheels that allow operators to shovel logs farther in fewer turns. Other advances include a full scale measuring system for calculating log length and diameter, allowing the processing function to easily merchandize logs. Integral feed wheels grab and shovel logs farther in fewer turns, as well as easily move or reposition logs without re-handling while loading or sorting.

The GP’s innovative design allows it to reposition long logs, handle bundles of short wood and distribute brush. It can be used with both new and pre-existing log loaders, making it economical as well as efficient.

Tolko took on the job of introducing the new attachment to its contractors, with the purchase of the two GP heads. Corsi explained that this initiative is part of an effort to support their logging contractors, in making the move to new equipment, and encourage innovation. “We wanted to help the transition, and communicate what the equipment is all about—not simply do a one day demo, but have it working in the bush.

“We’ve been bringing as many guys as we can that work for us to see the machine, and show its capabilities, and what kind of niche it can fit. It is a different attachment, but we believe we know enough about it to see that is has a place in the woods in B.C.—but you have to find the right place.”

With Tolko’s encouragement—and support—the GP has worked in two contractor operations. “We went to them, asked them to put a man in the seat, and worked with them on it, and helped reduce their cost exposure,” said Corsi.

Feedback from the operators has been positive. Within an hour, they’ve figured things out, and are seeing how the head can work well. Processor operators seem to make the transition easier than loader operators, but that really depends on the operator. “We don’t want to generalize because there are lots of versatile operators out there that can run anything,” says Corsi.

Some minor fine tuning and tweaking was required, with adjustments to pressures and feed speeds, but this is to be expected since the head is new to these operations, he added.

The heads are put on machines with live heels, which helps considerably with the hoe chucking and wood decking applications. “You can grab a big grapple of wood and really swing it around,” says Corsi.

One of the contractors, Main Logging, has since purchased one of the GP heads, which is mounted on a Tigercat 880. “They really like it, and now they’ve purchased it.

GP grapple processor head, manufactured by Pierce Pacific Manufacturing“That’s really our end goal—to get new equipment that works well introduced to our contractors,” explained Corsi. “Tolko is not in the business of owning equipment. We just want to make sure that innovation happens.

“Sometimes what happens in our industry is that if contractors can’t see the light completely in terms of the benefits of new equipment, they just won’t go there.” This is often understandable, considering perhaps the uncertain benefits, and the costs, of new-to-the-industry equipment.

“But what we’ve done is taken some risk, to push the innovation side of it—Tolko has some skin in the game, to help contractors learn about new equipment.”

The other machine is mounted on a Link-Belt 290 carrier.

In terms of applications in B.C., Tolko sees the GP head as a multi-purpose attachment for processing, loading and hoe chucking. “Those really are the three applications we’ve found for our operations,” says Corsi.

“The GP is really a bit of a hybrid,” he explains. “It’s not the equivalent of a big loader, or the equivalent of a big processor. It does a lot of things really well. It does not do one thing really excellent—but that’s not the way it was designed.”

It was, Corsi says, designed for niches.

“The niches we’ve identified are small volume applications. Today, someone might send a processor and a loader to an area. But the GP is one head that can do both those tasks. You can cut down on the number of machines, the moving costs, and the number of operators. You can have one person, one machine, doing the job.” It could also be used as a very versatile tool in general operations for a large contractor, he added.

What’s coming up for Tolko and its contractors is a large part of the reason why the GP head is an especially good fit.

“The number one reason why we went after it is we have a big steep slope initiative—and we’re talking about towers and grapple yarders in these settings. And the GP head is a good fit for that.” A contractor could be in an area where they are doing just three to four truckloads a day, and it’s difficult to justify a large number of pieces of equipment in this kind of volume.

“This one piece of equipment fits really well into those small volume applications—that’s probably its best niche,” says Corsi.

The reason they sent one of the GP heads to Quesnel, in B.C.’s Central Interior was, again, for niche situations—where a contractor might be out of sync between phases.

“This happens all the time,” says Corsi. “You’ll have x number of bunchers, x number of skidders and x number of processors. If you’re in the perfect type of wood, with perfect conditions, the volume of wood you produce will line up from one phase to the next, to the next.

“But in the real world, at points during the logging season, a contractor can get out of sync a bit—the wood is too big or too small and phases will get out of balance.

“This niche machine allows a contractor to balance his phases—it’s a versatile tool. For example, if he’s loading during the day and processing at night, and gets behind on processing, you can just double shift the processing.”

As part of their due diligence, Tolko toured four different logging operations in Washington and Oregon that use the head, and the contractors they talked with said it has done more than they anticipated—one contractor is now on his second GP head.

“The loader or processing functions are not one to one compared to a dedicated loader or processor, but you’re not comparing apples to apples. It’s done better than expected; they thought it might perform at 50 per cent production rates, and it’s more like 75 to 80 per cent.”

The serviceability of the GP is also a selling point, says Corsi. It’s made up of standard components, with lots of access panels and it has a DASA computer system. “If anyone is used to working on standard heads, they can pick up and learn on the GP head pretty quick.”

Perhaps its biggest limitation is the size of carrier needed to support the head, which weighs in at 6,000 pounds. “To use it in a loading application, you need a little bigger carrier, to unload the trailers. And if you are unloading quad trailers, the loads can be very heavy.” So the counterweight, and reach, is important. Pierce recommends a minimum 85,000 pound carrier.

“On the B.C. Coast, a lot of people have iron that big, but not so many people in the Interior,” notes Corsi. “They are usually down one size from that. So you need to get into larger scale production to see the justification to get into that larger carrier and capital costs, and higher fuel consumption.”

Having Inland Parker Pacific onboard for support is crucial, says Corsi. “We really need to have all three parties involved for this to work—Pierce, Parker Pacific and Tolko. We all need to play a role to introduce the head properly.” He added that both Pierce and Inland Parker Pacific have stepped up to the plate in providing service and support.

Tolko’s plan is to take the second GP head to their High Level operation in Alberta this winter, and try it out there for four or five months. It will be working in a greener profile, with larger pieces, and in some colder weather. “By break-up, we’ll have a more complete understanding what the real niche is for the head.

“Our plan is to go to our contactors—and there will be a select group we talk with because we think it fits their operations—and ask them to have a better look at the GP, and consider an investment in it.

“We’re not going to go to every contractor and ask them to have one—that’s not what we envision for the GP head. But we think there is a large opportunity for the head.” Corsi said he would be surprised if the head is not picked up by contractors for use on the B.C. Coast, too, because of its versatility.

At the end of the day, Tolko sees that by helping contractors stay up with technology, they are also helping Tolko stay up with technology, and be efficient. “We’re really working for a win/win,” says Corsi.

While he’s working on getting acceptance for the GP head, Corsi is continuing the hunt for what might be next for new technology in logging. “I’m looking every day for the big game changer for the industry,” he says.

“The forest industry and Tolko will be facing some challenges, whether it is a shortage of skilled labour or going to more difficult terrain, and we know we need to pursue innovation to meet those challenges.”