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Logging and Sawmilling Journal November 2014

May 2015

On the Cover:
B.C.’s Valley Pulp & Sawdust Carriers Ltd has hauled a lot of different materials in its decades of operation—but the company has now expanded its operations to hauling logs in the B.C. Interior, and it is working for several forest companies operating in the region. Watch for the story on Valley Pulp & Sawdust Carriers in the next issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journal (Photo courtesy of Valley Pulp & Sawdust Carriers).

Prince George: a century
of sawmilling

The City of Prince George—home to the Canada North Resources Expo—is celebrating its 100th birthday in 2015, and it has a rich sawmilling heritage over that century.

Seizing the moment —in logging
Log Commander Enterprises, owned by the Webster Brothers—Ryan and Curtis—of Quesnel, B.C. has chosen to seize the moment in the logging upturn, expanding their fleet of logging equipment by a factor of four in the last 18 months.

Back to the future—with phase logging
Forest company Tolko Industries is revisiting the past with its Innovative Phase Logging program in the B.C. Interior, and it is delivering detailed—and valuable—information on logging equipment performance and production.

Recipe for recovery
A major planer upgrade at Tolko’s Soda Creek Division stud mill operation in Williams Lake, B.C. is going to help expand its range of products and improve grades and recovery at the mill, a solid recipe for improved competitiveness.

The latest in logging tools
Northeastern B.C. logging company Hi-Sky Enterprises has introduced some new Komatsu machines into its logging equipment line-up to provide their employees with the latest in logging tools, and make sure they are able to keep moving wood efficiently to meet the needs of their customer, lumber giant Canfor.

Going full tilt
New logging operation Full Tilt Contracting is looking forward to doing exactly that—going full tilt—in the not too distant future, helped along by solid logging equipment and an experienced crew.

Cranking out the lumber at Idaho Forest Group
Attendees at the recent Small Log Conference got a first-hand look at Idaho Forest Group’s new Lewiston, Idaho upgrade and its focus on a HewSaw SL250 3.4 installation that is already cranking out six million board feet a week—with room for more production.

Energy—but with a green footprint
A new wood-fired district energy system in the B.C. Interior is delivering multiple benefits, including solving the issue of residue disposal from a local sawmill using a Bandit 1390 XP 15 inch drum chipper, and in the process delivering energy that has a greener footprint.

Taking charge on the marketing side
Having had success manufacturing and marketing red pine product, Ontario’s Heideman sawmill recently made some acquisitions, and has now taken charge of marketing its finished white pine product.


CLICK HERE for the Canada North Resources Expo Showguide


Tech Update: Skidders

Supplier newsline

The Last Word


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Back to the future—with phase logging

Forest company Tolko Industries is revisiting the past with its Innovative Phase Logging program in the B.C. Interior, and it is delivering detailed—and valuable—information on logging equipment performance and production.

By Jim Stirling

Forest company Tolko Industries is revisiting the past to help improve the future through the creation of its Innovative Phase Logging program (IPL).

The concept involves Tolko’s acquisition of new and innovative log harvesting equipment. And as each piece is put to work within its specific log harvesting stage in British Columbia’s Cariboo region, a detailed examination of its productive performance is launched.

After an evaluation of the machine, it’s made available to interested logging contractors to operate on a production basis.

The detailed examination and associated costs of each logging phase—rather than on a stump to dump assessment basis —harkens back to the days when logging phase contractors were the norm in B.C. Think of it as an exercise in new logging machine micro management.

Discovering some of a feller buncher’s, skidder’s or processor’s production capabilities and benefits upfront takes some of the inherent risks away from the contractor, explained Joe Webster, manager of Tolko’s phase logging operations. The IPL initiative is entering year two of its four year growth plan. “It’s early days for the program and there are lots of unanswered questions,” he added.Tolko Industries Phase Logging

The equipment being run in Tolko’s Innovative Phase Logging program includes a Link-Belt 290X2 with a Southstar QS600 processing head. The detailed examination and associated costs of each logging phase—rather than on a stump to dump assessment basis—harkens back to the days when logging phase contractors were the norm in B.C.

As the IPL continues making the transition into productive phases, the questions along with different answers to assumptions will continue and are, in their way, a measure of progress. “It’s not a quick turnover process,” he summarized. “But we think we can gain some efficiencies by looking closely at the logging phases, and create some opportunities.”

Those opportunities include training operators. That continues as a major motivation behind the IPL concept, continued Webster. “With our mentorship we can indicate what it takes to run that business. The person we’re seeking is a younger but experienced equipment operator, someone who wants to be an owner-operator.”

Tolko can help them take that next step with the latest equipment.

The IPL program is expected to produce about 300,000 cubic metres a year when up to full operating capacity by year four. “We would like to see (the program offering) more opportunities so we might split the volume to have 150,000 cubic metres and two different skidder contractors, two different processing contractors and so on. With the equipment we have it looks like it would fly.”

Tolko’s IPL program is presently running a Tigercat 845C feller buncher, a Tigercat 615 six wheel drive skidder and a Link-Belt 290X2 with a Southstar QS600 processing head. Timber Service, a Quesnel-based loading specialist, is Tolko’s regular contractor for that phase using a Madill 3800.

The latest piece of innovative harvesting equipment to join Tolko’s IPL fleet for evaluation was a Pierce GP head. The grapple processing head promises a new definition of versatility. Pierce, an Oregon-based manufacturer, says the machine can sort, shovel, load like a grapple and delimbs, measures and cuts like a processor.

“It’s very early days and time will tell, but the Pierce is doing what the manufacturers said it would do,” commented Webster. “It’s looking promising. It can load and process at the same time and handle trees from a four inch bottom diameter and has a 50 inch opening. It measures well and handles our small diameter pine.”

The possibility of assessing the latest developments in different logging equipment engines is on IPL’s agenda for 2015.

“There has been a lot of focus on the capabilities of on-board computer programs and that will continue into 2015,” Webster added. “I don’t think the industry has been taking full advantage of what’s available.”

He suggested a better understanding of on-board computer operating systems can help define the working utilization of a given logging machine and its productivity per machine hour. Taking full advantage of the feller buncher, skidder and processor’s computer programs can, when monitored and analyzed, help build the operator’s business acumen side, he added. It augments the overall efficiency of the logging machine and the harvesting phase in which it’s involved.

Webster noted the contractors involved with the project also keep work diaries to provide a hard data back-up of daily activities that’s easily revisited. “It can become valuable information.”

He added that logging contractors hire new equipment operators from time to time and a machine’s on-board computer system can help monitor and improve productivity. It becomes another tool available for use, similar to the GPS systems incorporated into the program’s feller bunchers and skidders. “The operators can see exactly where they are in real time.”

The capability can prove handy for a buncher operator, for example, to use the machine’s GPS to correctly position the felled wood in the direction of a road when it’s snowing heavily or fog obscures the visual landscape

The software used in a logging machine’s on-board computer also comes under close scrutiny. “The simpler the better,” Webster believes. “A touch screen with as few prompts as possible. That’s how we try to set it up.”

Another challenge is how best to handle to handle, edit and use the growing amount of data generated by each machine working within the IPL program.

While it’s premature to draw firm conclusions of where the IPL program will lead, Webster did allow some modest conjecture. “At the end of the day, it could become a situation of mix and match between contractors and equipment and wood types and conditions. And within that context the machine operator is a key element,” he said.