designed for Norbord, Mtal Marquis found it had a winner with its DS3500 delimber slasher.
A small-wood version, the DS1000, is now in prototype testing.
By Richard Turtle
Copyright 1997. Contact publisher for permission to use.
When Norbord Industries
La Sarre Division began planning changes at its sawmill in Northwestern Quebec, it meant
changes as well to the way wood is harvested and handled. The mill eliminated its slasher,
opting instead to take delivery of cut-to-length softwood for stud lumber. General Manager
Pierre Moreau explains the mill had originally been producing random-length lumber from
tree-length logs so the change in approach meant significant changes in equipment and
Although it meant
modifying four Lokomo 933 forwarders now manufactured by Timberjack to carry 8' logs
rather than tree-length, Norbord decided to use slasher-delimbers in the bush when a local
company came in with a proposal.
Mtal Marquis Inc. President Guillaume
Marquis explains that his company agreed in the fall of 1994 to build a machine which
would match Norbord's specifications and be ready for production early in 1995. Marquis
admits Norbord was skeptical.
MtalMarquis was expected
to provide a prototype for testing within four months and, based on the results of field
tests, Norbord would then provide other machines if required.
The first trials for the
DS3500 took place in mid-November, 1995, less than two months after work started on the
machine. From there, he says, the DS3500 spent three months in an evolutionary phase where
faults were corrected and changes made to the original design.
Norbord now runs five
Mtal Marquis DS3500 delimber-slashers which have sufficient capacity to supply 80 per cent
of the inventory required for the mill. Moreau says the mill produces approximately 100
million board feet of softwood lumber annually, made up primarily of spruce (80 per cent)
and jack pine (15 per cent).
Each DS3500 (mounted on a Komatsu,
Hitachi or Cat carrier) is paired with a feller buncher and Norbord uses five Lokomo 933
forwarders to transport the 8' logs to roadside.
The Marquis DS3500 is a
multiple-stem delimber which has shown good results on both softwood and hardwood logs
measuring up to 86 cm (34'') in diameter while enabling the operator to process several
trees at once. The delimbing and slashing can take place directly at the stump, which
helps to protect natural regeneration by leaving the cones in place, and the condition of
forwarder trails is maintained because hauling is done on top of the ends and branches of
previously processed trees.
Logs destined for the
Norbord mill are harvested with feller bunchers before the DS3500 takes over. Mounted on a
50,000-70,000-lb. class carrier the machine has the ability to increase forwarder
productivity by 20 to 25 per cent, says Marquis. And with the tops and branches left on
the trails, both tracked and wheeled machines do less damage to the forest floor.
Efficiency and simplicity
of operation were two primary considerations in the design and manufacture of the
delimber-slasher, Marquis says. In part, Mtal Marquis' mandate is to "ensure that our
customers have access to durable and easy-to-repair equipment." And with results at
Norbord so promising, paired with a shift toward commercial thinning in Quebec, Mtal
Marquis is now testing a prototype intended for smaller wood, but based on the original
Marquis explains that in
order for commercial thinning to be profitable, productivity and worker safety must be
ensured and the forest environment must be protected to maintain healthy stands. Trials
underway with the smaller DS1000 have had very good preliminary results, Marquis says. The
DS1000, also with the multiple- stem capacity, is designed for trees less than 65 cm
(25'') in diameter and can be mounted on a 13,000-25,000-lb. carrier. He is hopeful the
new model can produce 6-8 m3 of sawlogs per hour working strictly in commercial thinning.
Numbers are expected to be even higher under clear-cutting conditions.
The concept for the
DS1000 was born after brainstorming sessions to determine existing and future needs of the
industry, Marquis says. Specifically, the company focused on the local area. In
northwestern Quebec, trees are smaller. And because of the small stems, explains Marquis,
"you need a special machine for (conditions here). With our machine, it's easy to cut
several stems at once." Marquis feels the DS1000 could be the machine of the future.
And if the company's history is any indication, MtalMarquis could play an increasing role
in the manufacture of forestry equipment.
When the small metal
fabricating shop opened in Northern Quebec in the late 1960s, it was probably anticipated
that some of the work would focus on the primary industries of the area. In 1968, Albert
Marquis opened the doors at Albert Marquis Forge, offering a variety of welding services,
as well as decorative steel products. Since that time Albert Marquis Forge, now run by
Albert's sons, has evolved from a small shop with two employees into MtalMarquis Inc.,
offering forestry and mining companies customized solutions to the challenges facing them.
An engineer, Marquis shares some of the corporate responsibilities with his brothers.
Serge, a mechanical technician, is the company's general manager while Alain is a field
mechanic and "Jack-of-all-Trades". In 1980, the family company was incorporated
and at that time production was diversified to meet the specialized needs of the local
industries. Marquis describes the company as being "on the cutting edge of
technology." MtalMarquis now offers a complete engineering service, a staff
complement of 55 people and more than 3,250 m2 of factory floor space.
As well as producing the
DS3500 and its counterpart the DS1000, MtalMarquis has a long tradition in the forestry
sector. Before the prototypes were built, Marquis says, his company had done extensive
modification, repair and maintenance work on feller bunchers, skidders and delimbers. That
provided them with significant insight into how machines operated and what changes or
improvements could be made.
MtalMarquis began making
high-flotation tracks for forestry equipment to reduce ground pressure and site
disturbance. When the UF-type high-flotation tire tracks were made available on the
Timberjack 933 clam bunk skidder, productive capacity on the machines improved by 85 per
cent, Marquis says.
Marquis notes that his
delimber-slashers are up against some tough and well-established competition in the
forestry market but he sees a niche for his machines, particularly in the area of
commercial thinning. For example, he says, single-grip harvesters require a highly skilled
operator with a strong mechanical and electrical background in order to get the most out
of the machine's productive capacity. As well, there is the initial cost outlay to
But in order to sell
machines, Marquis notes, his company has to replace existing machines in the market.
MtalMarquis has taken a big first step in introducing a new product. But, says the
company's president, "it's a long walk."