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May 2004

Equipment Profile1

Flawless performance

The first purpose-built Komatsu PC 300LL-7 butt ‘n top log loader is performing flawlessly, according to BC logging contractor Amboy Logging.

By Jim Stirling

 On site to see the Komatsu loader in action (from left): Peter Frasunkiewicz, Komatsu’s product marketing manager; and Eli Hetu and Gib Randall of Amboy Logging.

Amboy Logging is pretty good at eliminating unwelcome surprises and that doesn’t happen by accident. Gib Randall and Eli Hetu, the log contracting company’s owners, believe in doing their homework. They plan carefully. Any potential piece of new logging equipment’s is investigated with a Sherlock Holmes-like attention to detail. The equipment’s promised features are assessed, along with how it fits into the overall vision of the operation. Then Amboy’s operators are kept up to speed about what’s going on and what’s expected from them. Their several cents worth are encouraged and the operators are an integral part of the planning process.

Ultimately, it’s the operators who will make a machine work to its full potential in the bush. The approach works. That was evident on a sparkling winter morning recently, when Amboy’s latest acquisition, the first purpose-built Komatsu PC 300LL-7 butt ‘n top log loader, performed flawlessly. Nothing less was expected. Amboy contributed input to a receptive Komatsu manufacturing team. The company worked closely with dealer Terratech Equipment to add features Amboy wanted. It was a similar story with the people at Industrial Machine Attachment Company (IMAC), to incorporate key modifications Amboy required. The result is a log loader Amboy predicts with confidence will contribute to the company’s efficiency during the long term—with no nasty surprises. Amboy Logging is based in Quesnel, in the North Cariboo region of British Columbia.

 Modifications to the log loader’s design included extending the reach by about three feet. Industrial Machine Attachment Company (IMAC) worked to give the machine a high visibility curvature boom.

The outfit is a go-to contractor for West Fraser Mills, for which it harvests about 145,000 cubic metres annually. The company also harvests private wood. The logging contractor’s harvesting assignments are frequently in steep and demanding terrain. The Komatsu loader will slot right in, says Hetu. He expects it will be required to load 1,200 to 1,500 cubic metres during a 12-hour shift, depending on operational circumstances.

Amboy has had plenty of experience with Komatsu loaders. “They’re very reliable. There’s not a better loader out there in our minds,” commends Hetu. “This one is the first of its kind, a fully purpose-built log loader. It matches up with anything out there for its size and weight.” And therein lies part of the Komatsu’s appeal. “You basically have 400 track power, swing drive and bearings in a purpose-built 300 class machine,” he explains. The heavy-duty features are included in a machine that still weighs less than 100,000 pounds. “Komatsu has taken the best ideas and put them together.”

The result, adds Hetu, is a log loader “with a great big heart and hydraulics to the max.” Modifications to the log loader’s design include extending the reach by about three feet. IMAC worked to give the machine a high visibility curvature boom. A major benefit there, explains Hetu, is that it allows regular operator Fred May to load on the blind side. IMAC also moved the forestry cab forward about a foot, creating better all around visibility for loading and/or log sorting. “IMAC did a great job for us on the cab and boom,” credits Hetu. The Komatsu dealer, Terratech Equipment’s Prince George branch, came in for its share of kudos for finishing the core loader to Amboy’s specifications. “Terratech has been second to none and should be complemented on the work they’ve done,” continues Hetu.

The modifications included rock guarding installation and a railing around the carrier for operator safety and ease of access to the machine for servicing. Additional lighting was added to the boom and stick. Running 12-hour shifts in the BC Interior winter means several gloomy hours each day. Sliders replaced rollers on the undercarriage because, explains Hetu, they are basically trouble free and require less maintenance. The new Komatsu loader fits well with the rest of Amboy’s log harvesting equipment fleet. “Most of our stuff is a little overkill by design,” points out Hetu. “It doesn’t have to work hard all the time to do the job we want so we will get a long work life from it.”

Log loader the result of Komatsu product evolution

In no small way, Amboy Logging’s new Komatsu PC 300LL-7 butt ‘n top log loader culminates a product evolution of more than 10 years. It dates back to the early 1990s and a successive series of heavy duty excavators, recalls Piotr (Peter) Frasunkiewicz, Komatsu’s product marketing manager based in Mississauga, Ontario. He was on hand to witness Amboy’s historic machine go through its paces. Those earlier machines have metamorphosed through Komatsu’s experience and willingness to listen to loggers across the continent, into the first factory-built core machine upgraded for forestry applications. “It’s a big commitment for Komatsu and it’s very exciting for us,” says Frasunkiewicz. The factory-supported machine, manufactured in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is equipped with Komatsu’s SAA6D 114E turbocharged diesel engine. It’s rated at 242 hp at 1,900 rpm and meets all current emission standards. Other factory features include a 29-inch clearance and a fixed gauge high and wide type undercarriage. But perhaps more significantly for loggers, the machine combines a swing torque of about 96,500 foot pounds with a draw bar pull of 74,300 pounds, yet weighs only around 98,000 pounds fully equipped. “The features of a larger class machine give the loader the ability to work in steeper and tougher terrain. It’s for the more severe applications,” notes Frasunkiewicz. Amboy is using their Komatsu as a butt ‘n top loader. But the same base unit has other forestry applications, explains Frasunkiewicz. For example, it can be used as an excavator, a heavy-duty roadbuilder, for coastal shovel logging when fitted with a heel boom, or for carrying large processing heads. The dealer makes the modifications to the basic factory-built unit to suit individual customer needs. “Flexibility is the name of the game,” he summarizes. Frasunkiewicz says the same basic philosophy can be extended through Komatsu’s product lines, including wheel loaders and dozers in other industrial applications. “You have to find and incorporate features that are important everywhere.” He says Komatsu’s experience as a world leader in hydraulic excavators has allowed that technology to be transplanted into Amboy’s butt ‘n top. A commonality of component manufacture in the hydraulic systems produces a rare level of predictability in machine control functions, he explains. The “communication” designed into the system directs the hydraulic flow to produce that seamless controllability. “We call it a HYDRAU-mindTM system.”

 

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