NINE-AXLE TRUCKS get traction in B.C.NINE-AXLE TRUCKS get traction in B.C.

A key statistic in favour of the nine-axle B-trains for licencees and their log hauling contractors is the unit’s payload. The nine-axle units carry about 17 per cent more payload than eight axle B-trains. That makes them more efficient, an attribute appreciated by logging contractors.

By Jim Stirling

The use of nine-axle B-train logging trucks is finally gaining traction west of the Rocky Mountains. No pun intended, but it has been a long haul to gain approval for the configuration in British Columbia, but it now appears safety questions have been satisfactorily answered and the rigs’ potential benefits are better understood and appreciated. As a result, nine-axle trucks are hauling on a growing number of permitted routes in the province.

Tridem and tandem drive nine-axle logging trucks have long been operating successfully in other jurisdictions. These include Alberta and Saskatchewan, where they’ve been working since 2009.

FPInnovations, a research institute seeking science-based solutions to Canadian forest sector problems, was involved with helping establish winter logging routes for nine-axle logging trucks in Alberta. “But there are different terrains and conditions there than those in B.C.,” noted James Sinnett, manager of the transportation group with FPInnovations in Vancouver.

There are indeed differences in B.C. and that’s one reason why the nine-axle truck has experienced an uphill journey. But steady progress has recently been made. “There were about 20 nine-axle trucks operating on approved routes in B.C. in mid-2018,” says Sinnett. Most of these approved routes were in the Central Interior of the province followed regionally by the Peace River country and the Southern Interior.

NINE-AXLE TRUCKS get traction in B.C.One contractor who runs the nine-axle trucks estimates he can pay for the additional capital costs of the larger units in about two years because of the improved payload factor. And nine-axle truck drivers say they’re happy with the configuration because it tracks and stops well, and turns like an eight-axle B-train.

FPInnovations has forged its co-operative partnership with other involved parties and together they have adopted a researched fact-based approach to the debate around nine-axle logging truck use on B.C. highway sections and resource roads. The partners include the B.C. Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure; Commercial Vehicle Safety & Enforcement Branch; the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development and forest industry licencees. The BC Forest Safety Council and the Council of Forest Industries (COFI) are also partners in this initiative.

The issue of nine-axle logging trucks has cropped up in a number of different ways recently. For example, the municipal services division of the City of Williams Lake worked last winter with local forest companies including Tolko Industries to investigate potential impacts and issues for the nine-axle rigs negotiating the city’s streets (it’s worth noting the dimensions of the nine-axle truck are no longer than the currently approved 27.5 metre eight-axle B-trains although they are heavier).The nine-axle logging truck configuration was the subject of an information sharing panel at the May 2017 edition of the Canada North Resources Expo in Prince George. And FPInnovations and its partners also conducted field testing of the nine-axle trucks under operating conditions in the Vanderhoof region of central B.C.

A key statistic in favour of the nine-axle B-trains for licencees and their log hauling contractors is the unit’s payload. “These nine-axle units carry about 17 per cent more payload than eight axle B-trains,” continued Sinnett. That makes them more efficient, an attribute appreciated by logging contractors.

One contractor who runs two of the nine-axle trucks estimates he can pay for the additional capital costs of the larger units in about two years because of the improved payload factor.

Nine-axle truck drivers say they’re happy with the configuration because it tracks and stops well and turns like an eight-axle B-train, says Sinnett. The drivers’ views are backed up by what FPInnovations has discovered through its testing procedures: truck handling characteristics are uncompromised by the additional axle.

FPInnovations has conducted formal vehicle dynamic assessments on the nine-axle trucks. “These new trucks meet even more stringent handling and stability requirements than existing trucks in B.C.” it reported. It also said the nine-axle B-trains have comparable off-tracking performance to the eight-axle B-trains currently operating in the province. Similarly, nine-axle B-trains have as good or better stopping performance than most other B.C. logging trucks. “This is because the numbers of wheels and brakes per tonne of truck is more than other log hauling trucks.”

Sinnett explained it may sound counterintuitive to suggest heavier logging trucks—like the nine-axle B-trains—can save fuel. But because nine-axle trucks carry larger payloads with each trip, they need fewer trips and less overall fuel to move a loggers’ quota or annual volume of wood to the mill.

There are further implications from that, according to FPInnovations. One is the potential for fewer trucks on the road given the increased payloads possible with the nine-axle configurations. FPInnovations has identified a reduced impact on pavement surfaces. These new configurations generate approximately five per cent less wear and tear to pavements than an eight-axle B-train. This is again due to the reduced number of trips required.

A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is a further benefit from the nine-axle’s lower fuel consumption. FPInnovations estimates a reduction in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of more than 10 per cent compared with existing configurations.

The B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is the agency responsible for granting highway route approvals for nine-axle B-train operation. It does so on an individual basis and has a formal process for assessing bridge suitability and road fit for nine-axle B-train use. FPInnovations has produced a guide book for the forest industry as the permit holder on resource road use, to help them determine the safety and compatibility of a given route for nine-axle B-train use. “In addition to grade limits, the assessment provides guidance on forest bridge capacity and road alignment,” it says.

FPInnovations and its partners are working on a website that the public can access containing information on the new nine-axle configuration. In the meantime, further information is available from james.sinnett.@fpinnovations.ca

It’s been a bit of a haul, but nine-axle logging trucks have finally gained traction in B.C. now that the rigs’ potential benefits are better understood and appreciated.

Logging and Sawmilling Journal
October 2018

On the Cover:
Fallers in B.C’s coastal forest industry work in tough ground—and safety is paramount. E&B Helicopters has the back of fallers, and the forest companies, operating on the coast, through providing air transportation and emergency evacuation services. Its Medevac (Medical Evacuation) capable helicopters are able to get in to spots where B.C.’s Air Ambulance Service machines can’t reach. Read all about E&B and its president, Ed Wilcock, and the services it offers to fallers beginning on page 14 of this issue. (Cover photo courtesy of BC Forest Safety Council).

Newfoundland’s new forestry voice
The new Newfoundland and Labrador Forest Industry Association will be better able to present industry’s case to the provincial government—and present it with a common voice.

Rebound at Rutherglen
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The Go-to-Guys for loggers
E&B Helicopters provides air transportation to coastal forest industry companies, being the go-to-guys for getting loggers to work in remote areas—and sometimes being the first responders in case of serious accidents.

Continuing to battle the beetle in B.C.
The mountain pine beetle infestation in B.C. may be in the forest industry’s rear mirror, but it now has the spruce bark beetle to deal with, and loggers are well into the salvage and control measure mode.

Nine-axle trucks get traction in B.C.
It’s been a bit of a haul, but nine-axle logging trucks have finally gained traction in B.C. now that the rigs’ potential benefits are better understood and appreciated.

Stacking ‘em up in Saskatchewan
A new Sennebogen 830 M-T log handler’s stacking ability has boosted yard capacity for Saskatchewan’s Edgewood Forest Products—and is helping the mill feed the appetite of its new sawline.

The Edge
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 and FPInnovations.

The Last Word
Short rotation woody crop deployment in Canada is now at a crossroads, says Tony Kryzanowski.

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