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May 2004

Equipment Profile2

Special Christmas package

Supplier Paul Equipment and machine shop Meductic Welding have put together a special Daewoo/Hornet harvesting package for contractor Marc Perron’s use near the Christmas Mountains in New Brunswick.

By George Fullerton

The Daewoo carrier, with the Meductic Welding forestry package, makes for a high quality, high capacity machine that is competitive with purpose-built harvesters, says Carl Arsenault of Paul Equipment.

When New Brunswick contractor Marc Perron ended his search to find a machine to replace his three-year-old Hyundai and Hornet processor, he found himself with a Daewoo 290 carrier with a Hornet 825 head package. And after doing some work on UPM Kymmene’s Camp 1 operations on the Sevogle River, east of the Christmas Mountains, Perron says the harvesting equipment was meeting all of his expectations. He added that the forestry-kitted Daewoo excavator and the newest Hornet processor make for a good package, and especially, a pretty good financial deal. Perron made the deal with Paul Equipment of Balmoral, New Brunswick for delivery of the equipment earlier this year. “The Daewoo is big and heavy, which is what you need to handle the Hornet, which weighs around 9,000 pounds.

With a head that heavy, you need a big platform to operate it from.” Perron says that he is satisfied that the 200 horsepower Cummins diesel on the Daewoo will be reliable and have a reasonable fuel consumption level at 300-320 litres per shift. “The Daewoo is top of the line, one of the best excavators on the market, and with the Meductic Welding forestry package it makes a very high quality, high capacity machine which is competitive with purpose-built harvesters,” says Carl Arsenault, sales manager with Paul Equipment. Customers are pleased with the forestry machines based on Daewoo excavators, he says. “We put a lot into the machines, and customers are satisfied with the product because they are seeing more cubic metres at end of the year.”

Marc Perron (left) and operator Michele Doiron, with the Hornet 835 head. “The Hornet is a proven performer,” says Perron. “As far as I’m concerned, there is no other processor that can match it for performance, low maintenance and reliability.”

Meductic Welding is a small machine shop, located in the village of Meductic in west central New Brunswick, that has developed a big reputation for high quality forestry kits for excavators. Neil McLellan and his wife Kim own and operate the shop with two full-time employees and one part-time high school student. Meductic has been in the forestry kit business for the past eight years and attracts business from dealers across Atlantic Canada and Quebec. “The best compliment I get for our work is when people comment that a kitted machine looks very similar to the original machine,” explains Neil. Perron’s Daewoo 290—like every other kit candidate—was stripped to the bare essentials of platform and engine before Meductic started with modifications to make it work in the woods.

The first steps include raising and wrapping the engine exhaust system, and manufacturing brackets and frames for air filters and cleaners to increase accessibility and facilitate in-woods service functions. The Daewoo 290 received a new 800-litre fuel tank and a 420-litre hydraulic tank. The back end of the fuel tank morphs into a compartment to house tanks of suppressant for an on-board fire suppression system. Meductic manufactured new hoods and panels, as well as a complete cab with two emergency exits in the roof and back window. Meductic contracts Motion Design, a Fredericton-based engineering firm to safety test their cabs.

The interior of the forestry cab uses the excavator’s original seat, computer and electronics, as well as the original interior material. “When we get an excavator, we have a good idea of what is required and move through a process of design refinements for individual machines,” says Neil. “Customers make some visits and check on the work as the project goes ahead. They usually make some small modifications, like locating extra step and grab handles, and placement of light brackets. After delivery, we follow up with owners, operators and service techs, to see how the kit continues to function to determine what refinements would make our models more worker friendly and increase safety.”

The Meductic forestry kit also includes a slide configuration to replace top rollers on the carrier tracks. On the Daewoo 290’s slides, they are testing two different grades of composite wear material called UHIMW polyethylene, supplied by GE Polymer. Neil says that the material should reduce friction and wear on the tracks, and show some benefits in fuel economy. With the forestry kit complete, the machine was returned to Paul Equipment in Balmoral for installation of lights and final detailing. The only major mechanical modification to the Daewoo was to change the track drive motors to O & K units to provide a little more tractive power. Machine operator Michele Doiron said that the new harvester was feeling pretty good after the first couple of weeks. “The cab is well forward with good visibility and a good lighting package. A new machine always sounds and feels different at first, but we are comfortable with it now. The only thing I want to add is a screen to cut down the sun glare through the front window. It is a real nice machine to operate.”

Perron ordered a few modifications on the new processor. Some hydraulic hoses were re-routed, and additional guarding was installed to eliminate debris from sensitive areas. He also ordered higher capacity roller motors which provide 145-150 rpm, up from the 110-115 rpm of the stock units. “The Hornet is a proven performer,” he says. “As far as I’m concerned, there is no other processor that can match it for performance, low maintenance and reliability. We face a tough challenge with hardwoods—you need a lot of power to handle them. And as far as I can see, the Hornet is the only processor that can meet that test.” The Hornet can handle butts up to 26 inches in diameter and the topping saw can handle up to 18 inches in diameter.

In addition to managing big wood, it can also maintain excellent limbing and measuring accuracy down to 2.5-inch tops. Feed rollers have a maximum opening of 32 inches and a minimum of 1.5 inches. Roller feed force on stock Hornets is 12,000 pounds and 10-14 feet per second. A lot of Perron’s work is in clearcuts, but he also gets to see a fair bit of selective harvest, especially in hardwoods and mixed wood stands. Through the year, he can expect to move up to forty times between cut blocks. At close to 80,000 pounds, the unit is a job to float, but in the woods it provides a powerful and stable platform. Out in the bush, UPM Kymmene logging supervisors complete a quality check every week, looking at wood quality and environmental compliance. “We continually see more and more BMPs (Best Management Practices) for harvesting operations,” says Perron. “But it is good for forestry in general. If we had them years ago, the forests, wildlife and water quality would be in a lot better shape.”

Since UPM Kymmene’s Crown land management licence requires them to supply seven sub-licensee mills, every move for the machine generally means a change in the log length and diameter specs, to meet the particular specs of the different mills. Making sure operators understand and meet changing specs demand is just one part of getting the job done right. “I will give credit to the UPM logging supervisors—they push hard to get a good job done, but at the same time they are realistic and understanding,” comments Perron. The typical week will see the operators complete four or five night shifts and 4.5 day shifts, depending on the volume produced. Perron is on site for Friday afternoon’s weekly maintenance, then operates the processor through the weekend. Each week, he typically clocks between 35 and 40 hours operating time.

Through the week, Perron splits his time between the UPM Kymmene operations and his home in Campbellton, New Brunswick. Perron sees dealing with government bureaucracies and requisite paperwork as one of the biggest challenges for operating his business. “It takes a lot of homework to run the business. There seems to be a lot of hassle to run a small business, and if you make a small mistake or miscalculation, they want to fine me right away.”

Fundamental to a successful contracting operation are motivated and reliable operators. Michele Doiron and Yvon Robichaud operate the processor on double twelve-hour shifts. The operators spend the week at UPM’s Camp Operations 1. “I try to pay a good wage, and give a bonus or wage increase every year,” says Perron. “It is hard work, and it is a hard life in the woods, living in the camp and away from their family. I know what it is like; I want to do the best I can for my operators.”

Perron aims for high machine available hours to make his production goals. He consistently harvests more than 80,000 cubic metres per year, and when the wood quality and weather is good, doing 100,000 cubic metres would not be out of the question. “We follow a good maintenance program, we have a well-equipped woods shop and a big parts supply. We have never missed a full shift due to a break down, in the past ten years,” says Perron. With a new machine and no major maintenance projects this spring, Perron was planning to take advantage of the opportunity to make a trip to Finland with his operators, to check out forestry manufacturers, specifically the Logset equipment lines.

Doing this kind of research is just part of prudent business planning from his perspective. “I look at and study every piece of equipment that comes into the woods. I need to do that because someday someone from UPM will come along and say ‘We don’t have a place in our operations for this piece of equipment anymore. We need another kind of machine.’ I want to be sure I know as much as possible about the new equipment before I sit in it to make my living.”

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