By Tony Kryzanowski
Logging contractors know that a well-designed equipment fleet can open doors to new business opportunities.
That’s one reason why Alberta logger Ted Freake recently purchased the first Log Max ProCut 2330 processing head sold in Canada, as part of his plan to take on more volume in the coming year.
Headquartered in Whitecourt, about 180 kilometres west of Edmonton, Freake’s company, Triple F Logging, harvests about 100,000 cubic metres of softwood for West Fraser Timber. Freake has let the company know, however, that he’d like to take on more volume.
Triple F’s cutblocks typically consist of spruce and pine, but also host a healthy volume of incidental aspen hardwood, which is shipped to Millar Western’s pulp mill in Whitecourt, as well as West Fraser’s pulp mill in Slave Lake. The softwood logs go to West Fraser’s Blue Ridge sawmill.
The log diameters can vary anywhere from 6” to 40” or more, with about 10 per cent hardwood and the rest softwood. The hardwood is typically in the 25” and smaller range. The softwood is processed cut-to-length from 10’ 4” to 16’ 4”, while the hardwood is shipped tree length. They also produce peeler logs in 17’ 3” dimensions.
So Freake needs an equipment fleet—and specifically, versatile and robust processing heads—to handle this diverse log diet, while delivering consistent uptime to provide him with that extra window of opportunity to deliver more volume. Watching it work recently in his log decks, Freake says he is impressed with the Log Max ProCut 2330’s performance.
“In bigger wood, the smaller heads have a harder job taking the big limbs off,” he says. “This head seems to handle just about anything we put through it. We put some big, ugly aspen through it—and it just ate it up.”
Freake adds that they also encounter fairly high volumes of larger diameter spruce and pine. So by dedicating the ProCut 2330 to larger wood, even though it also has the capability to process logs down to a 3” diameter, they are hoping to save wear and tear on their smaller processing heads.
Overall, Triple F Logging has four processors in its fleet, two Log Max heads, and two from a competing brand.
In many instances, Freake says contractors typically opt to use delimbers instead of processors for heavy hardwood. But one main difference between the two is that a delimber works on the road while a processor works beside the road, making it easier to maneuver to let log trucks pass by. This results in less downtime and better traffic flow.
It is common knowledge that the combination of a properly-sized and durable processing head with a quality operator can make or break a logging season. In most logging operations, the situation is very much felling-for-show and processing-for-dough. A good operator/reliable processing team must not only push volume, but also consistently achieve a high degree of accuracy. Typically, there is also a considerable amount of ‘picking’ through the piles to sort, process, and deck logs according to customer requirements. Contractors can usually expect anywhere between three and 10 log sorts at the deck, so to pay the bills, both the processor and the operator have to be at the top of their game every shift.
This picking process can also significantly influence wear and tear on the head and volume per shift. That is why selecting a processing head brand and size can be the main cause for contractors to lose sleep at night, not to mention trying to find and keep good operators; the efficiency and productivity of log processing has a direct influence on a company’s bottom line.
Freake was already familiar with Swedish-built Log Max processors, having purchased a Log Max 7000XTreme processing head a couple of years ago, mounted on a Komatsu PC200 carrier. It provided him with an opportunity to not only evaluate the Log Max product, but also the service support behind the product. Because processing has such a direct influence on a company’s finances, having access to good service support from the supplier is a strong consideration in any processor purchasing decision. Freake says that service support was a major determining factor in his decision to add the Log Max ProCut 2330 processing head to his fleet, as he says that Log Max has provided him with quick response and reliable after-sales support. So he was comfortable putting Canada’s first Log Max ProCut 2330 to work, knowing that the company had his back if he encountered any issues.
“Log Max as a company are easy to deal with,” says Freake. “They get back to me quickly, and if I have an issue, we get the head fixed in a hurry. If I call them, within a half hour, they call me back and if we can’t troubleshoot the issue over the phone, they are on their way.”
Weighing in at 6140 lbs, with a maximum knife opening of 32”, and with a 36” sawbar, the ProCut 2330 provides logging contractors with some interesting features—the most obvious being three steel feed rollers.
Triple F Logging’s head is mounted on a Komatsu PC290 carrier. The recommended size carrier for the head on all makes is in the 25 to 30 tonne range. Triple F Logging chose Komatsu because of their positive experience with this brand in the past. Freake says the head needs a bigger carrier to provide for the oil flow it requires.
Mike Nasadyk, Western Canadian general manager for Log Max, says that although the head can both harvest and process, it really is suited for processing—and is particularly well-suited for logging environments where logs are processed from the deck, rather than at the stump. The company’s two-feed-roller heads, with their smaller profile, are well-suited for standing trees, whereas the ProCut 2330, with its more robust frame and design, is better suited for processing from the deck. By robust, he points to the materials used in the head’s construction, which is Scandinavian steel.
“We are able to provide extreme endurance on the frame because this steel is so high quality, while keeping the weight down,” says Nasadyk. “It is comparable in weight to our competition. But realistically, it is a heckuva lot stronger because of the quality of the steel.”
In the case of Triple F Logging and why the head was a good match for their operation, Nasadyk said that because Freake is processing hardwood along with softwood, and given the strength of the head, he expects that the head will simply last longer.
“That’s been an issue for all dangling processing heads today, because processing hardwood just beats the life out of the heads,” says Nasadyk.
Freake says he has noticed the value of the steel used on the Log Max processing heads. “I have 8000 hours on my Log Max 7000XT processing head and I don’t have one crack on that head,” he says.
Also, compared to the Log Max 7000XT, the ProCut 2330 is designed for larger diameter wood. Nasadyk says that having three feed rollers not only provides the operator with a better grip on logs, but also reduces wear and tear on the head because it is easier to pick trees out of the deck.
“What having three feed rollers does is it changes the configuration of the head so that the rollers are tucked into the frame,” says Nasadyk. “So when the operator is processing out of a pile, there is a lot of clearance between the head and the logs in the deck. He is able to pick into the pile easier.”
The feed speed on the head is rated at 5 metres per second (16’4” per second) with a feed force of 40kN (9000 lb/f).
“This head does have a lot more feed force than the competition, which translates into more versatility and more production,” Nasadyk says. He added that many heads will be set up for a certain wood profile, so that when the logging company encounters wood outside that wood profile, there is a slowdown in production.
“With the ProCut 2330 head, when they use it for oversized logs, it has a lot of torque to pull, yet it still has a high feed speed for small wood,” he says.
Optimally suited for processing wood in the 23” diameter range, the Log Max ProCut 2330 also comes with extended front delimbing knives, which Nasadyk says results in both easier handling of large timber and log processing. Operators already familiar with using the Log Mate 500 computer control system on other Log Max heads will have no problem adapting to the ProCut 2330, as it uses the same control system. Freake likes the Log Mate 500 computer control system, describing it as operator-friendly, with the ability to rectify any issues that crop up.
“Log Max is getting set up where they can just punch into the computer on my machine and fix it without them being there,” says Freake.
Also, Nasadyk says that the hydraulic system on the head offers good serviceability.
Freake concludes that the bottom line is that he is aiming for more production per shift and more uptime by purchasing his Log Max 2330 processing head—and he’s confident he will achieve both.
On the Cover:
The re-opening of the plywood plant in Cochrane has brought 125 jobs back to the northeastern Ontario town. In addition to the plant facilities, the deal to re-open the plant includes a guaranteed wood supply, with a provincial allocation of 200,000 cubic metres annually of veneer quality aspen logs. (Cover photo courtesy of Rockshield Engineered Wood Products)
Seeking more balanced timber allocation in the B.C. Interior
B.C.’s Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association is encouraging the provincial government to consider a more balanced approach to timber allocation, where commodity dimension lumber sawmills and value added wood product manufacturers each have access to the fibre flow they require to succeed.
New Grapple Camera offers bird’s eye view
A new Grapple Camera from B.C.’s T-Mar Industries is allowing loggers to achieve safer and more productive grapple yarding operations, offering a bird’s eye view of choker settings—in high def, no less.
The re-opening of the plywood plant in Cochrane, Ontario has brought a good number of jobs and economic activity back to the community—and it all started over a cup of coffee.
Double win: more production and uptime
Alberta logger Ted Freake is looking for more production per shift and uptime, and he’s confident he can achieve both with his new LogMax ProCut 2330 processing head—the first such head in Canada.
Included in this edition of 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.
What was new at … DEMO 2016
Logging and Sawmilling Journal was there at the most successful DEMO show in years, held in Maple Ridge, B.C. in September. We highlight what was new in logging equipment and services in this issue.
The Last Word
The forest sector could contribute more to GHG reductions—and make money—with an aggressive plantation program, says Tony Kryzanowski.