New Tigercat skidder joins the equipment team
Pope & Talbot fleet maintenance manager Frank Sanders notes that the company has a significant investment in its logging equipment and quite naturally is looking to maximize uptime and production from every piece. When you total things up, a buncher, a couple of skidders, a processor and a loader can easily add up to over $2 million, if the equipment is bought new.
"The investment is substantial and the numbers obviously don't look good if you're not getting the most number of loads possible," says Sanders. "You've got to get the hours on the equipment, and the production, to keep your equipment costs down." At the Pope & Talbot company operation, the bunchers and processors are both double shifted to maximize production.
One of the machines helping to pull timber from the hillsides for Pope & Talbot these days is a fairly new Tigercat 630B skidder. From operator reports, the skidder is earning good marks for its ability to handle big loads in the steep terrain of the Boundary region of British Columbia. The 630B features hydrostatic drive, which is delivering some quite impressive pulling capacity, allowing the machine to pull more wood per drag for improved productivity.
With hydrostatic drive, there is no gear shifting. The operator has infinitely variable speed control from zero to maximum simply by depressing the foot pedal. He does not have to continually shift to maintain the optimal gear for the terrain. Operator fatigue is significantly reduced. According to Tigercat, an operator shifts gears as many as 1500 times during an average work shift. The Tigercat 630B, working with a Cat D5 tracked skidder, achieves what Pope & Talbot is looking for in its equipment-balance. "The two can skid anything that our buncher can knock down," says Sanders.
"What we want to do is get that buncher going full bore. Everything on the equipment side needs to be keyed to what we can take down with the buncher." If the buncher is capable of doing the equivalent of 20 loads a day and the skidding component is only capable of doing 15 loads, it can make the overall operation uneconomic.
Tigercat distributor Marcel's Equipment Ltd, with its office in Vernon, BC, had its own staff and Tigercat people review operating and maintenance procedures with Pope & Talbot staff when the 630B came on site. And the follow up, reports Sanders, has also been good. "I've been very impressed with the people at Marcel's. We haven't had much in the way of problems, but any that we have had, they have been right there. And we need that kind of help and support from our dealers." Pope & Talbot has a very strong relationship with local dealers, whether it be Marcel's, Finning-the local Cat dealer or Terratech, which handles Komatsu. "It's really more of a partnership," says Sanders.
They have regular quarterly meetings with each of the dealers-monthly in the case of Finning, since they have so much Cat equipment-at which maintenance issues are discussed and quickly resolved. "With these meetings, issues don't go on and on," says Sanders. "We talk about them, come to a resolution, we're happy and the equipment dealers are happy.
It works." Service and parts back-up are important to Pope & Talbot in Midway because-true to its name-it falls mid-way between the locations of equipment dealers. To the east are dealer locations in Nelson and to the west are the equipment dealer branches in the Okanagan and Kamloops. "We're kind of in the middle." The parts support is good, by and large, Sanders says. As with any equipment user, the company does have some reasonable leverage in this particular area.
If they don't get good parts back-up from a dealer, that dealer may not be invited to the table-or be taken seriously-the next time the company is looking to replace equipment. Pope & Talbot runs company logging operations on two sides. For bunchers, they have a TK 923 and a brand new Timbco 445E unit. For skidding, they have the Tigercat 630B, a 630 machine, and two Cat D5 grapples on tracks. Processing the wood is a Cat 320 fitted with a Denharco 550 dangle head, a Tigercat 860 stroke delimber with a Denharco 4400 and a contracted Link-Belt 3400 with a Denharco 3500. Loading the timber out are a Barko 435 butt 'n top and a Cat 325 butt 'n top.
Equipment for road building includes four Link-Belt excavators, two Cat D8N dozers, a Komatsu D155AX-3 dozer, as well as Cat and Komatsu bucket loaders.
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