Tech Review- winch assist

ClimbMAX steep slope winch-assist machinesClimbMAX

The production of ClimbMAX steep slope winch-assist machines continues in New Zealand, even as sales to customers in other countries continue to ramp up.

The Nelson-based consortium has now received an order for its 11th machine to be built for the North American market. The rising offshore interest did prompt it to look at assembling them closer to those customers.

Mr. Jensen says North American loggers are facing many of the same safety and steep slope issues as contractors in New Zealand and they have recognised the value of the ClimbMAX in helping them overcome the challenges.

“A lot of the forests . . . don’t have tracks on the top of hills, or the ability to build them, to allow a two-machine tethering system to work, but the ClimbMAX isn’t restricted by where it can operate and that’s what they love about it,” he says.

The latest ClimbMAX machines are based around a Caterpillar 336, which is completely disassembled and then re-built with a custom cab and body to get as much weight low down for improved stability. The winch is built into the chassis and runs 7/8” swaged rope out to a buried log or suitable stump up the hill to assist with traction. A rear blade is set up for use as an emergency braking system.


In all places where unsecured driving leads to too increased risk for human and machine, the solid T-WINCH 15.1 traction winch assistant can be used.

Not only is the application of the traction winch a considerable cost saving for the operator because of the verifiable reduction of fuel consumption, but the use of T-WINCH also represents an environmentally conscious approach to timber harvesting.

The remarkable construction together with the functional design, ensures an approved and reliable operation. An easy reach of the operation field is provided by the help of the crawler movement and the radio control. The plate in the front part of the machine provides even more stability in rough terrain.

The T-WINCH is powered by an IVECO C87 Tier 4 final, with a power output of 300 kW. It features a working hydraulic system — traction drive (1x210 cm3), wich impulse (1 x 210 cm3), has a maximum pulling force of 150 kN, a maximum cable speed of 8.2 km/h, a wire rope diameter of 24mm, and a wire rope length of 520 m.

With the use of T-WINCH, no undesirable rear weight and no structural alteration works of the basic machine are required. No matter how the machine is used for working on steep terrain, a maximum of safety is provided together with a minimum of installation work.

Independent steering along forest roads is possible by uncoupling the rope. An easy release of the safety rope ensures the possibility of leaving the logging trail at any time. This allows timber storing along forest roads to be achieved easily.

Technical Forest SolutionsTechnical Forest Solutions

Technical Forest Solutions LLC (TFS) imports products from EMS Rotarua of New Zealand. TFS along with Electrical Machinery Service (EMS)  are bringing this technology to the Northwest to promote safe cable assist logging in North America. Tractionline’s 2-cable system has a 5-to-1 safety factor, multiple redundancies, and can mount on common excavators. The Tractionline system has remarkable tons of constant tension. The constant tension system not only creates a safe work environment it also allows for extremely stable, reliable operations even when the operator is not activating the winches.  In other words, the system has “live” tension control anytime the auto mode is enabled. Both drums operate completely independent of each other and automatically adjust so the operator can focus on the task at hand. 

In addition, the Tractionline system allows for the steep slope machine to be pulled right up to the bucket with the engineered wide sheaves. These wide sheaves also allow for easy transport so the operator does not have to handle the chains at all. Just unhook and chains stay on winch base for transport.

The Falcon Winch Assist systemFalcon

The Falcon Winch Assist system can be fitted to any Excavator over 27 tonnes, and the single drum 1⅛-inch roped provides continuous traction support for felling and shoveling machines on slopes up to 50°/110%.

With the option of 500 - 650 meters of rope length, the Falcon Winch Assist can be designed to suit your specific requirements. Also, multiple safety features and operating alarms give the operator the safety and security to concentrate on the task at hand.

Designed to be a multi purpose machine, The Falcon Winch Assist can be used effectively for digging, loading and shoveling.

The felling machine operator only has to manage one rope when operating down the slope reducing complexity and potential for snags. The winch system design provides less mechanical and electrical complexity and therefore opportunity for faults and breakdowns. And, the winch unit is enclosed by rear guarding for protection with easy access points for maintenance.

The Falcon winch assist has been designed and tested through thousands of operational hours in a wide range of slope and soil conditions, and features a number of safety features.

  • Overspeed Alarm triggering a rope management system in the Winch, which automatically slows it down to prevent shock-loading.
  • Movement Alarm to alert the operator is the Winch Machine experiences any movement.
  • Cab Door Tamper Detection Alarm.
  • Over Tension Alarms.
  • Drum Over Speed Alarm/Arrest.
  • Maximum Rope Pay Out Alarm/Arrest.
  • Live Feed Camera System.


In recent years, HSM has advanced steep slope technology for gear units with multiple innovative solutions and continued to invest in this technology in order to meet customers’ increasing needs and contribute to their success.

The HSW-15 Traction winch, designed for harvesters and forwarders, has 500m cable length capacity and a pulling capacity up to 15 tons. The HSM Synchro Drive allows a smooth and safe driving on extremely steep slopes while conserving soils and much as possible.

The Force-Synchro Drive distributes force to the cable and the wheel drive in accordance with the operator’s specifications. After the operator preselects the force distribution and maximum cable force, the system automatically manages these forces, which prevents cable overload and, most importantly, soil damage.

The force-synchronised drive concept exhibits significant advantages over other well-known transmissions, which are either speed-synchronised or preset to produce a constant cable force.

The built-in safety features, like a slope indicator and its unique traction test, make it and ideal solution for professional loggers.

Some other features of the HSW-15 include:

  • Constant adjustable tractive fore up to 15 ton, regardless of the number of cable layers on the drum.
  • Durably designed planetary transmission with wet disk brake.
  • Remote control.
  • Sharply reduced cable wear—the cable is only wrapped once around the drum.

Island Pacific EquipmentIsland Pacific Equipment

Island Pacific Equipment Ltd. offers Rob (Remote Operated Bulldozer) for steep slope felling. Rob features a twin winch system and each rope has a 26-ton safe working load; a spring-loaded fail-safe brake on each winch drum; hydrostatic drive for greater operator control; tension monitors; a sturdy bulldozer base; a detection system with instant shut down of the drums; and an automatic machine shutdown if water overheats, the oil runs out, or a hose blows.

Operators enjoy the many benefits, including:

  • Year-round operation;
  • Safety on steep slopes with the ability to work safely on slopes up to 45° (100%);
  • A wider reach. The fairleads go up to 45° each side of the bulldozer, so the tethered machine has a wider scope. This means that more efficient felling patterns can be implemented, resulting in productivity gains;
  • Productivity. A single operator can cut an average of 771 tons a day;
  • Less soil disturbance. Rob minimizes the “footprint” left on the hillside; and
  • Staff safety: Comprehensive staff training so is provided so that operators can confidently operate Rob in a safe manner.


In 2017, Komatsu will introduce its European Traction Aid Winch technology for harvesters and forwarders in North America. The proven system aids traction by utilizing a capstan winch device. It has separate spooling of rope on the drum and there are nine rotations of rope around the capstan drive. The benefits of this design include less stress and wear on the rope and better control of the rope.  

It is a compact design with excellent ground clearance and rough terrain capability.

The Harvester Traction Aid Winch is equipped with hydraulic tilt and quick couplings, which makes it easy to fold the winch down to open the hood, and to adjust for different angles of the rope. It can easily be adjusted from steep slopes to terraced roads. The winch is easy to dismount and the harvester cab/crane tilt gives better net slewing torque on steep slopes.

The Forwarder Traction Aid Winch has an optional integrated crane tilt with higher net crane slewing torque and low height of tilt. The rope-feeding device ensures that the rope is always stretched inside of the winch, to increase reliability and prevent rope entanglement.

The winch control is integrated with the machine’s MaxiXplorer control system, which enables automatic measurement of rope tension, adjustment of rope tension and adjustment of rope speed to match the machine’s travelling speed.

The Traction Aid Winch is equipped with a remote control.

There are several operation modes: for traction, on slopes, for flat transportation, and from road to nearest landing.

PONSSE SynchrowinchPonsse

PONSSE Synchrowinch allows effective logging in areas where previously only expensive and slow special logging methods have been used. The winch speed is automatically synchronized to machine driving speed so that the operator doesn’t need to operate or adjust it during working. Cable tension can be set and winch can be operated from a remote control unit, making it easy to hook the cable to e.g. a tree or a stump uphill. Optional tiltable loader makes loader working efficient and easy.

Benefits of the traction assistance are many:

  • Higher productivity. Forwarding is possible to both directions.
  • Due to the tiltable seat, the driver can keep a relaxed sitting position while working on steep slopes. This makes the work ergonomical and less tiring.
  • Traction assistance winch helps to widen the area of operation—same machines can handle steeper places.
  • Winch energy efficiency is approximately 80%; because of direct transmission of traction force to movement and no slip. No slipping means mitigated impact to soil and lower erosion risk.
  • Lower fuel consumption and decreased transmission part wearing are pros of traction assistance compared to operating without winch in slopes.
  • Investment cost compared to fully mechanized cable yarding systems is remarkably lower. Traction assistance logging has lower transporting costs (two machines vs. four machines) and system involves only two operators at the same time.

PONSSE Synchrowinch is available for PONSSE Ergo and Bear harvesters and Buffalo, Elephant and ElephantKing forwarders.

Summit Attachment & MachinerySummit Attachment & Machinery

Summit Attachment & Machinery, a leader in hydraulic logging winch systems, has developed a STEEP SLOPE WINCH ASSIST system that offers safe and simple operation in a rugged and dependable package.

With systems on excavators, log loaders, and feller-bunchers, Summit offers the flexibility to supply a system to meet any loggers needs. Whether assisting a feller buncher with a hot saw, a leveling reach machine with a directional felling head, or a large grapple skidder, the SUMMIT STEEP SLOPE WINCH ASSIST system offers unmatched performance.

The core of the system is an extreme duty winch, which holds 1850’ of wire rope, delivering a wide operating range. The winch is controlled via automatic proportional remote control from the cab of the cutting or skidding machine. An electronic load cell with data recorder limits line pull for smooth and safe operation. The cutting machine cab is equipped with a high resolution display showing: winch line pull, wire rope distance, cut count, and live video of winch operation and the surrounding area. A second display give a live GPS harvest map showing harvest boundaries, terrain profile, machine location, and skyline locations. Summit offers unmatched product support, and our system uses North American sourced components for industry best parts availability.

Options include a haywire winch for easier rig-up when cutting above the road, and additional drums to allow the system to also operate as a yarder. Eric Krume @ 360-749-2187, or Bruce Skurdahl @ 503-806-9323.


T-Mar Industries developed a winch-assist machine for steep slope harvesting ideal for west coast conditions.

One of the key features is the remote control system, which provides full control of all functions. Rockers control each track as well as the blade, and a rotary dial sets the winch tension. Toggles switch between travel and winch modes. Switches control brake and dog release, and travel speed. Operators have separate buttons to control winch out, winch in, guyline out, guyline in, throttle up, and throttle down functions.

A few of the other features include: tension monitoring and recording capabilities; three high definition wide-angle cameras with LED lights provide full visual coverage of drums and driving environment; fleet angle compensator and lagged (grooved) drum for accurate spooling; and an emergency stop buttons on all four corners. Also, weight is within legal weight limit for the highway.

The machine is inherently stable when static to an angle of 800. Its engine can operate up to a 450 slope grade.

A new version of the LC150 will incorporate changes including: larger main drum capacity (1” x 1950’), larger optional guyline (1 1/8” x 150’), optional strawline drum (3/8” x 4 500’, 15,000 lb. line pull), a pivoting fairlead with larger sheaves, and a machine motion detector. New weight: 60,000 lb.

* T-Mar information was largely taken from an FPInnovations Info Note No. 12.

TimberWest November/December 2013
September-October 2016

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Cover photo taken by Andrea Watt of RCD
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Collision of Champions
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Field Test
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Tech Review
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New at DEMO International 2016
A look at some of the innovative equipment that debuted at DEMO International 2016.

Guest Column
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