Subscribe Archives Calendar ContactTimberWestMadison's Lumber DirectoryAdvertiseMedia Kit LSJ Home Forestnet

 
Untitled Document

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.

The EDGE

CLICK HERE for the Canada North Resources Expo Showguide

DEPARTMENTS

Tech Update: Skidders

Supplier newsline

The Last Word

 

 CLICK to download a pdf of this article

Northeastern B.C. logging company Hi-Sky Enterprises

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.

Most industries have undergone some serious changes over the past three decades, largely due to technological advancements. Few, however, have undergone as radical a transformation as the logging industry.

Hi-Sky Enterprises, a northeastern British Columbia logging company, has seen considerable changes since it was started by Lorne Waldie in 1980. His son, Shayne, joined the company in 1991 and is now operations manager.

“When I started, we used all hand-fallers, line-skidders and hand-buckers—everything was power-saw work,” Shayne Waldie recalls. “Today, we have no power-saws in the bush. In fact, it’s all mechanical and there is little to no manual labour. At Hi-Sky, we’ve adapted well to the changes, and we’re continuing to look at new processes to further improve our productivity and profitability.”

There’s no question about whether mechanization has boosted Hi-Sky’s productivity.

Shayne Waldie, operations manager for Hi-Sky Enterprises.

Shayne says in the power-saw days, the company logged maybe 80,000 to 100,000 metres per year. Now, it logs 400,000 to 600,000 metres per year.

“Of course, producing more and producing more profitably aren’t necessarily the same thing. For us to get a good price, the mills have to be making money, and due to a slow world economy, they’ve been down for a number of years.” That has changed in the last several years, though, with a significant improvement in the lumber and wood products markets. Shayne said they are hopeful that the cycle has turned back up, and they’ll reap the benefits of the upturn.

Based in Chetwynd, British Columbia, Hi-Sky logs exclusively for lumber giant, Canfor. Depending on the year and the time of year, Hi-Sky employs anywhere from 30 to 60 people, including truck drivers. The company runs a northern operation and a southern operation, although both support Canfor’s two northernmost mills, in Fort St. John (north) and in Chetwynd (south).

In addition to Shayne, founder Lorne Waldie remains active and serves as president of the company. Shayne’s wife, Christy, and sister Lorna manage office duties for Hi-Sky.

“We’re very much a family business,” said Shayne. “My dad brought me into the woods at an early age, and I worked here over school breaks before joining full time. It’s something I grew up with, and I never gave much thought to doing anything else. This is what we know and what we do. It’s part of our life and always has been.

To improve efficiency, Hi-Sky has turned to Komatsu machines for its logging operations in the tough B.C. terrain. Hi-Sky has two XT450L tilter feller bunchers, one XT430 flat-bottom feller buncher, a PC200LL-8 processor and a D65EX dozer.

“Of course, we can’t do it alone,” he added. “We have a number of very good and highly valued long-term employees who are crucial to our success, such as Ray Picard and his son, Wayne. They’re two of the best operators in the whole country, and they’ve essentially worked here their entire lives. Without people like that, we would not go very far. We understand this can be a tough life—long hours and spending a lot of time away from family while living in camps. There are certainly easier ways to make a living. We really appreciate our employees.”

Shayne says finding new employees is a challenge for Hi-Sky and for the entire logging industry.

“We used to work five days a week, 10 to 12 hours a day, for about nine months of the year. Today, we basically work seven days a week, 14 or more hours a day, for 11 months of the year. That’s what you’ve got to do now to make a living at logging.

“Compounding the problem, there’s a lot of competition from other industries for employees in our area, especially for equipment operators. So attracting and retaining employees is an issue, and it will become even more so as our old-hands begin to retire, which is already happening.”

Hi-Sky’s southern operations log primarily softwood such as spruce/pine and balsam fir. In the north, it logs some spruce/pine, but it mostly logs hardwood, such as aspen, poplar and cottonwood.

“Unfortunately, a fairly large percentage of our harvest is dead pine from an infestation of the mountain pine beetle more than a decade ago,” said Shayne. “That means a lot of waste. Mills are looking for top-quality wood, and much of the dead pine has defects that fall short of their standards, so we end up burning it just to get rid of it. We probably have a few more years to clean all that out, then we’ll start harvesting green wood again.”

Generally speaking, the conifer trees that Hi-Sky harvests are processed into lumber while the deciduous trees are made into oriented strand board (OSB).

Hi-Sky is a conventional, roadside logger; they’re felling the tree, transporting or skidding it to a roadside staging area, processing it and, finally, loading it for delivery to the mill.

“That’s the way we’ve traditionally done it,” said Shayne. “We’re able to produce a lot, but is it the most cost-effective way to get the job done? We’re looking into that. We’re handling each tree multiple times with multiple pieces of equipment.

“I’ve been to Scandinavia to see their techniques, which are different than ours, to see if we can incorporate some of what they’re doing. Soon, I’m going to Oregon to see if I can learn anything from their logging operations.

“We’ve got to be open to new things and be willing to try something different,” Shayne noted. “If there’s a better way, we’ve got to embrace it, or we’ll be left behind. We want to learn how to be as efficient as we can be. That’s the key. Learn how to do more, do it faster and do it for less.”

To improve efficiency, Hi-Sky has recently turned to Komatsu machines from dealer, SMS Equipment Company. Hi-Sky has two XT450L tilter feller bunchers, one XT430 flat-bottom feller buncher, a PC200LL-8 processor and a D65EX dozer.

“Komatsu has always built a great product,” said Shayne. “They got their feller bunchers from Valmet, which got them from Timbco. It’s a good line. Lots of power. Good balance. Excellent reliability. One of the best things about our Komatsu feller bunchers is that they’re compact, so they’re much easier to manoeuvre when we’re out there in the trees and stumps. We also really like the PC200LL-8 as a carrier for our Southstar 500 processing head, and the D65EX has been an excellent road building dozer.”

Operator Raymond Picard had this to say about the Komatsu XT450L: “I’ve been doing this for 52 years. I started with a horse, so I’ve seen a few changes. I really like the Komatsu feller buncher. It handles nicely, has good power and visibility. It can fall a lot of trees.”

His son, Wayne Picard, also runs the XT450L. “The compact upper turntable is nice because it allows me to get into places where I couldn’t with the traditional big tail-swing machines. I also like that Komatsu put extra weight on the machine to give it better stability on hills. Another nice feature is the ability to fine-tune many machine functions to my own personal operating preferences.”

“We really just started purchasing Komatsu equipment last year, and we’ve found it to be an outstanding product,” said Shayne. “Another plus is Komatsu Financial, which has good rates and is great to work with. With a branch in Chetwynd, SMS and our sales rep Kyle Patterson provide us with excellent parts and service support. It’s really the whole package, so I can see us increasing the amount of business we do with them in the years to come.”

Looking to the future, Shayne anticipates better days ahead for Hi-Sky Enterprises.

“I don’t think it’s a big surprise to anybody—the last six years have been pretty tough for the logging industry, at least up here. Many mills shut their doors for good and others closed temporarily. Many logging firms didn’t make it through the downturn. We did, but we had to cut back and do more with less. Now that things are picking up again, we’re optimistic that the improvement will filter through the mills down to the loggers.

“But the bottom line is that those of us who are in this business are in it not just for the money, but because we love it, and we enjoy the challenge. We’re all competitive and want to be the best at what we do. In our case, that means moving wood faster and more efficiently than the other guy. As long as we’re able to maintain that work ethic for ourselves and throughout our work force, I’m confident Hi-Sky will be around and will be successful for many years to come.”

This story was supplied to Logging and Sawmilling Journal by SMS Equipment (www.smsequip.com). It was originally published in the company’s Solutions Magazine.