The Madill H2200B harvester's good swing and track power are a hit with BC contractor Carl Kienzle.
By Jim Stirling
Cutting steak with a butter knife makes hard work of a straightforward task. It's simply not the right tool for the job. Excavators are admirable machines when they are doing the work that they are named for. But they lack specific and required characteristics when challenged to harvest cut-to-length wood behind a feller buncher or in single grip falling and processing applications at the stump. Which is why logging equipment manufacturer Madill introduced its purpose built H2200B harvester.
Madill is confident the carrier it has developed possesses the package of functions necessary to do the job consistently and efficiently. These include delivering the engine power, hydraulic flow and swing power coupled with the undercarriage and structure to be at home under real life bush working conditions. British Columbia contractor Carl Kienzle agrees. "We're happy with the way it works," he says, after putting about 300 hours on Madill's first H2200B.
His machine is flat bottomed-it also comes in a tilt version-and he's teamed it with a Waratah HTH22 harvesting head. It's proven a compatible marriage. "It's given us a production performance that is as good as it gets," Kienzle says, despite the fact his Prince George based Eko Logging harvests its share of low quality timber stands. "It harvests as fast as it can. The machine has good swing and track power and it's snappy getting to the work spot. Servicing is simplified with the rear access and the operator is happy." That last part is key, he adds. "It's the operators who make the machines work." Kienzle was one of three cut-to-length contractors-all working for the Slocan Group's Mackenzie Operations in north central BC-to have a say in the H2200B's design application.
The other two Doug Hanson, Madill's branch manager in Prince George, encouraged to contribute were John Krause of Skidmore Contracting and Gerry Myatovic of Myatovic Brothers Logging, both also based in Prince George.
The trio visited Madill's factory and sat down with company engineers to tell them what they'd like to see incorporated into a purpose built harvester machine. "We wanted reach," recalls Kienzle. The stick geometry provides a maximum reach of 29 feet. The Madill fabricated boom is reinforced at the pin bosses and mounted rear of centre for increased lift capacity. "The boom piece is longer and gives the height required for a working platform," adds Kienzle. "We told Madill we wanted stability at full reach and the ability to swing when outstretched."
But perhaps one of the features appreciated most by the contractors is the Madill's swing priority. Most excavator conversions lack swing power. The H2200B has a closed loop swing circuit that operates with its own dedicated Rexroth variable displacement piston pump. It helps the machine work well within itself. Madill was poised to react with impressive speed to the contractors' input. It took four months from the preliminary boom configurations on a computer screen to when the first completed orange and white machine was swinging stems in the spruce. Kienzle says there are always small items needing attention with new machines, but Madill was more than accommodating in remedying them.
He is also appreciative of the harvester's track power. It's equipped with a heavy duty D6 undercarriage on a high walker frame with 30inch ground clearance. And it's environmentally considerate, with the 28-inch single grouser track shoes tiptoeing at eight psi. The machine has an extra two-inch steel plate counterweight to help accommodate a 24inch harvesting head. A tilting upper house and large access doors facilitate setups, valving and maintenance. The H2200B has a neat, compact body for reduced tail swing when harvesting in tight quarters.
It's the machine equivalent of working a cocktail crowd without spilling a drink. Frances Madore is the guy spending his working hours in the harvester and he likes its creature comforts. "It is comfortable, you can stretch your legs. It has lots of windows and a good lighting system for less strain on the eyes," says Madore. And it comes with a sound system better than your average stereo. "The machine has power, power, power. I like that," he adds. That comes courtesy of a 275hp Detroit Diesel Series 50 engine and a 132 gpm Rexroth pump. Both engine and pump are electronically controlled to produce maximum power and hydraulic flow on demand, optimize fuel efficiency and come with built-in diagnostics. Madore adds his voice to Madill's support work with the machine. "It's like having Mario Andretti's pit crew."
Kienzle's Eko Logging began cut-to-length harvesting early in 1996. It was a complete turn around in equipment for his crews from his previous life as a grapple skidding subcontractor. He harvests around 100,000 cubic metres a year on a stump-to-dump basis when markets don't cause cutbacks. Helping deliver that volume is a Timberjack 735 shovel logger with a Waratah 622 head, a Timberjack 850 feller buncher with a 22inch Koehring head and two Timberjack 1210 forwarders. One is operated under subcontract and his other machine has a commendable 18,000 hours on the original engine and, adds Kienzle, runs with low maintenance and repairs.
A Cat D6 with grapple adds versatility, including the ability to winter skid hand felled oversize populations without ground disturbance. Kienzle did not need too much convincing to match the Waratah HTH22 head with the new Madill harvester. The Waratah 622 on the business end of the 735 shovel logger has 2,300 trouble free hours following startup. The updated Waratah attachment on the Madill harvester has the company's new three wheel synchronized drive. It's proven a positive addition. When all feeder rolls turn at the same time the high traction and low friction is super easy on the wood. Reducing fibre damage is important to Slocan and its cut-to-length contractors.
Kienzle uses rubber wheels in summer, steel in winter. The problems in summer include picking up sand and gravel on the log's exterior that can damage debarker knives at the mill. The situation is compounded every time logs are moved and many of Eko's logs are decked for barge reload across Williston Lake, the manmade, mini inland sea that dissects Slocan's Mackenzie operating areas. The cut-to-length system demands clean, damage free logs as provided by the Waratah harvesting head as much as it requires precision measuring. Tolerances are plus or minus two inches, says Kienzle.
He recommends monitoring the measuring system's length functions via the display unit in the operator's cab, especially around freeze thaw temperature cycles. Eko's harvesting machines and operators are obviously doing most things right. "We have the best length quality on the lake," says Kienzle. That's according to Slocan's regular quality control monitoring on a variety of parameters including log lengths, grades and defects. Kienzle says relying on one machine for a double shift creates a big and costly void if the machine goes down for whatever reason. He has also noted that with machines like feller bunchers and harvesters, operators tend to achieve better overall productivity with a single day shift.
He says one of the challenging aspects of cut-to-length is matching up the systems and managing the phases for a smooth working regime for the machines and a steady flow of product to the mill. Eko Logging acquired a Timberjack 735 log loader at a Ritchie Bros auction to augment its cut-to-length equipment fleet. When a side is producing about 10 to 12 loads a day, the 735 loader can be assigned other chores like hoe chucking to increase machine utilization. "We're always striving to find the most economic way of doing things for us and for the mill's sake," says Kienzle. "To lower costs, we have to work together."
This page and all contents
©1996-2007 Logging and Sawmilling
Journal (L&S J) and TimberWest Journal.
last modified on Tuesday, February 17, 2004