By Tony Kryzanowski
Alberta-based Moore’s Logging believes that big changes could be coming to Alberta forestry, driven largely by the provincial government’s intention to impose a $50 per tonne carbon levy on industry. Loggers may face significant extra costs, such as in the cost of fuel.
Established in 1989 and based in Edson, Alberta, Moore’s Logging is co-owned by Randy and Tina Moore. The outfit believes that it can demonstrate to other loggers —and industry—how to adjust logging practices, reduce fuel consumption, while also implementing a more environmentally-friendly logging method. This is achieved with rubber-tired, purpose-built, forestry machines that they say run far longer, consume less fuel, and have fewer operational expenses than tracked machines.
“We prefer the wheeled harvesters because we can get 40,000 hours out of them without doing seven or eight different engine rebuilds and pump replacements,” says Joe Moore, Randy and Tina’s son, who is operations manager at Moore’s Logging.
Joe says they have taken many John Deere wheeled harvester models, from model A to the current model G, “and we’ve put 38,000 to 40,000 hours on those machines with the original pumps, original booms, and original engines. They operate at lower rpms, so your pumps and engines last longer and your fuel consumption is way down.”
He adds that they have had no problems with undercarriages on those machines, “because, well, we don’t have undercarriages. We’re currently spending upwards of $100,000 to $150,000 a year just in undercarriages among all our tracked machines. That’s a lot of money.”
The most common logging practice in Alberta and in many other provinces is ‘conventional’ logging, which is to harvest trees with a tracked feller buncher, followed by a wheeled skidder that skids trees to decks at roadside. A processor then processes and sorts logs at roadside according to the needs of clients. The logs are then loaded and trucked to the mill.
Moore’s Logging is a stump-to-dump contractor supplying about 400,000 cubic metres for West Fraser Timber. About 125,000 cubic metres is hardwood. The softwood is shipped primarily to West Fraser’s Hinton and Edson sawmills, and the aspen to Weyerhaeuser’s oriented strandboard plant in Edson.
Moore’s Logging started out using wheeled harvesters, but it now operates primarily a conventional logging fleet, consisting of 23 pieces of tracked and wheeled equipment of various makes and models. It consists of three feller bunchers, four skidders, six tracked processors, and three log loaders.
But they also operate a much smaller wheeled harvester and forwarder operation, where logs are harvested and processed at the stump, and forwarded in cut-to-length (CTL) dimensions to roadside. Given the benefits they have witnessed from this logging method, they hope that other loggers will follow their example, and that forest companies take notice, particularly since this method allows the residuals to stay in the cutblock instead of being burned at roadside.
While it is not known yet how much the carbon levy will cost industry, particularly with the current practice of slash pile burning, Moore’s Logging believes that their logging method gives industry another option, and potentially a way to avoid having to pay the carbon levy.
A longtime believer in the environmental and financial benefits of at-the-stump harvesting and processing using wheeled harvesters and forwarders, the company is currently demonstrating its proposed method of logging to West Fraser. They are not advocating a complete switch to at-the-stump harvesting and forwarding—but they are advocating methods that result in processing at the stump “to get rid of the slash burning.”
And to complement their existing fleet of rubber-tired harvesters, Moore’s Logging recently purchased a TimberPro 840C, eight-wheeled, combo forestry machine, which can function as a harvester, processor, forwarder or clam bunk skidder.
Moore says the reason they purchased the TimberPro 840C was for its versatility and ease of operation. The other wheeled harvesters in their fleet are strictly designed for harvesting and processing.
Described by the company as “the most versatile wheeled machine in the world today”, TimberPro units come standard with 360 degree continuous cab rotation, allowing the operator to face in the direction in which he is working. This also allows the operator to harvest and place trees within 360 degrees of the machine. The cab has no tail swing and can be configured with 22 degree leveling capability.
Below the cab is a large continuous swing bearing, followed by a 20 to 22 ton bogie axle. The detachable bunk is connected with a heavy duty steel cast frame articulation joint with a caliper frame lock. The bunk comes with dual lock cylinders for oscillating the rear axle. The 20 to 22 ton bogie axle on the bunk as well as the machine bogie axle are designed to track perfectly, even on tight turns.
Right now, Moore’s Logging is using their TimberPro 840C primarily as a roadside processor, as they learn its full capabilities and best application. Besides its versatility, one other cost saving feature of this wheeled, combo, purpose-built, forestry machine and all their wheeled harvesters is that unlike a tracked machine, a wheeled harvester can drive down the road at a reasonable speed from cutblock to cutblock, thus eliminating the cost and time of low-bedding a tracked unit.
“We don’t hesitate to move our TimberPro 840C nine kilometres down the road, and it will be there in an hour,” says Joe Moore.
Joe adds that there is no time lost shoveling mud from tracks. Their TimberPro 840C is equipped with Pedno tracks, manufactured in Quebec, for improved traction in the block.
“Essentially with the TimberPro 840C, we found a machine with tracked machine power without the tracked machine problems,” says Moore.
Available in either a six-wheel or eight-wheel configurations, Moore describes the unit as extremely stable.
“It feels more stable than a tracked machine because all the tires sit on the ground no matter what,” says Joe. “The bogies articulate and it articulates in the middle. So you are always sitting firm against the ground. You are never rocking.”
A variety of feller buncher and squirt boom options, as well as tire and track options, are available with the unit. A Waratah 616C head with a 3/4” pitch auto tensioning saw unit has been mounted on it so that the machine can be used as both a harvester and a processor. Its hydraulics will operate any harvesting or processing attachment.
Moore says that they selected the Waratah 616C head because of their familiarity with the brand; they have six additional Waratah 622 processing heads in their fleet. They also like their performance, and the service support that they have received from Waratah.
The smaller Waratah 616C head was the right weight and lift capacity match for the TimberPro carrier, and was also a good match for the smaller diameter wood where they have put the unit to work as a processor. The ideal log size is between 15” and 20” diameter, with the occasional oversized log.
“We felt that the systems would be similar and that the performance would be, if not the same, then better, which the Waratah 616C head has been,” says Moore. “The head sails. It can rail out that wood extremely fast with accuracy. That’s what a person wants with a smaller diameter head.”
Moore’s Logging is operating Waratah’s TimberRite high optimization system with this processing head. It essentially uses the automation’s learning capabilities to build a stem profile to optimize bucking decisions based upon the parameters that the logging company inputs into the computer, considering the client’s log priorities. Essentially, the computer predicts and optimizes bucking decisions based on the established stem profiles, without the operator having to make those decisions, while the operator keeps an eye out for obvious log defects that require a manual override.
“We use it to maximize the sawlogs, but the operator has to pay attention for defects,” says Moore. “It does make processing easier.”
Working with TimberPro sales rep Sam Cosgrove at True North Equipment Ltd. carried a lot of weight with Moore’s Logging, considering the company’s long association with Cosgrove, and his years of experience in the industry.
“We also had a couple of senior operators who were originally trained on wheeled machines who were due for a new machine,” added Joe. “They are high production operators and they take very good care of their machines so we were not scared to invest more money into a machine for them.”
Moore’s Logging was shopping for a wheeled harvester that was more versatile, and even though the TimberPro option was more expensive, they felt that its ability to fulfill a variety of functions in their operation would deliver value for money.
“We were looking for a machine that could still dig out of the pile as a processor, but if it came down the line where changes like the elimination of slash burning came about, we were ready for it,” says Joe. “The TimberPro 840C is also essentially allowing us to forward with a harvester, if necessary.”
Moore’s Logging is currently evaluating its usage as a forwarder.
To complement its TimberPro, the company also operates two John Deere 1910E forwarders to retrieve logs at the stump. One of these units is operated by Joe’s mother, Tina.
Joe’s father, Randy, works with a John Deere 1270G wheeled harvester, while Joe operates a John Deere 1270D six-wheeled harvester with a self-leveling cab purchased in 2005. It is equipped with a LogMax 6000 harvester/processor head. He puts this unit to work primarily falling trees as well as to log rights-of-way.
“Working side by side with my dad for 10 hours, we burn 300 litres, or 15 litres per hour per machine, compared to a tracked machine, which burns 300 litres on its own,” says Moore. The TimberPro 840C burns a bit more fuel, but still only 180 to 200 litres per 10 hour shift.
Moore’s Logging doesn’t dispute that a well managed conventional logging approach does deliver more volume when you are using a fleet of equipment where each machine is fulfilling a single purpose. “But when you are skidding, it just wipes out every adolescent tree out there, leaving a scarified landscape when you are done,” says Joe. “It is an easier way of logging, but easier is not always the right way.”
On the Cover:
The Seneca Sawmill Company has been part of the Eugene, Oregon landscape for more than 60 years. It’s now nearing the completion of a second $65 million upgrade which included upgrading the dimensional mill with new equipment and technology, installing additional dry kilns and upgrading its dimension mill planer (Photo by Diane Mettler).
More computers in the cutblock
For the forest industry, the cutblock is expected to be the focus of advanced systems and technology for equipment over the short term—but don’t expect to see any logging equipment without operators quite yet.
Tracked performance—without the tracks
Moore’s Logging of Alberta says its new TimberPro 840C combo machine—an eight-wheeled forestry machine which can function as a harvester, processor, forwarder or clam bunk skidder—is able to deliver track machine power, without the track machine issues.
Solving steep slope challenges—to a T
The T-Winch, a new to Canada, European-developed tethered skidder assist system, is solving multiple steep slope issues for Alberta logger Kelly McGlynn.
Seneca sees second mill upgrade
The Seneca Sawmill Company in Oregon is nearing the completion of a second $65 million upgrade which—on the heels of a similar size upgrade during the recession—means a total investment of $130 million, clearly reflecting the confidence the company’s owners have in the industry.
Bonus Christmas gift
The residents of Hornepayne, Ontario received a bonus Christmas gift late last year, with the shuttered sawmill/biomass power plant in the town coming back to life, thanks to industry veteran, Frank Dottori.
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, Alberta Agriculture, the Forest Products Association of Canada and FPInnovations.
The Last Word
It’s time for Canada to get our economic mojo back—with a new softwood lumber deal, says Tony Kryzanowski.