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Quebec’s Élément Group is doing some trailblazing, manufacturing a line of feller bunchers in the province—branded under the Eltec name—with a plant in Val-d’Or, and a research and development team in Quebec City.
By Martine Frigon
A family of Quebec entrepreneurs who made the decision to manufacture feller bunchers in Canada is seeing some traction in sales.
With more than 30 years of involvement in the forest industry, the Quebec-based Élément Group in 2012 acquired the intellectual property and manufacturing rights to the family of purpose built track feller bunchers and harvesters formerly owned by Volvo Construction Equipment. These harvesting products are said to offer the latest in engineering technology with benefits such as fuel efficiency, high performance and operator comfort.
The new 220, 270 and 310 series of bunchers are now being manufactured by a division of the Élément Group, Technologies Element PSW Inc, under the Eltec brand, in Val-d’Or, in northwestern Quebec. The machines are all powered by a diesel engine made by Volvo with Volvo Advanced Combustion Technology (V-ACT) with 324 hp. The engine uses high-pressure fuel injectors, a large capacity turbocharger, air-to-air intercooler and electronic engine controls to optimize machine performance.
The company has two buildings totalling more than 21,000 square feet in Val-d’Or, as well as a research and development team in Quebec City.
The company’s management team is betting that they will be able to not only sell their equipment in Quebec and other provinces, but also export outside Canada. The objective of Technologies Element PSW Inc. is to produce more than 40 machines a year.
In business for three decades in the
The new venture received funding assistance from the Quebec Government, $313, 218, for employee training. Added to this is a repayable loan of $257,250 for start-up operations.
The Eltec machines have already attracted customers like Jean-Marc Savard, a forestry entrepreneur in Senneterre, Quebec.
Owner of an Eltec 270 bought during the summer of 2013, he had previously been renting a 220 machine. “The Eltec 270 is a great machine—it does not overheat, which is a big plus,” he says. “I was able to keep the harvester head I had, and simply put it on my new machine.”
Working for Tembec Senneterre since 1982, the 64-year-old entrepreneur—who doesn’t even think about retirement—works with his son Roby, 41. They have six employees, who operate equipment on two 12-hour shifts, five days a week. “We are very lucky,” Savard says, noting they have not had difficulty recruiting and keeping employees.
They’ve also been fortunate with their contracts over the years, he says. “Despite the crisis in the forest industry, we have always worked full time. In fact, we did not really experience the industry crisis, the closures, and the layoffs. We work 46 weeks a year on average, and always for the same client, Tembec Senneterre.”
The terrain on the public lands licenced to Tembec Senneterre is relatively flat, with no steep ground, and the logs are 10 to 20 centimetres in diameter, on average. The logging operations are concentrated in black spruce and jack pine, harvested in strips of 300 metres.
While some contractors carry out extensive repairs on their equipment to keep them as long as possible, Savard would rather invest in new equipment every four years. He feels it is important to work with the most modern harvesting technology.
Savard doesn’t really have any plans of retiring at the moment. However, he began to slow down his activities and works only on the maintenance side, leaving the operations of the feller bunchers—including the new Eltec 270—to his son
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