Weyerhaeuser’s Grande Prairie, Alberta timberlands operationGETTING MORE CONTROL OVER LOG HAULING

Weyerhaeuser’s Grande Prairie, Alberta timberlands operation is phasing in more tire pressure-controlled equipped log haul trucks, allowing them 
to increase their access on steep logging roads, even in bad weather.

By Tony Kryzanowski

“We have no control over our weather. But what we can control is the tire pressure on our log haul trucks.”

That statement by Joe Henry, one of two harvest and log haul managers at Weyerhaeuser’s Grande Prairie, Alberta, timberlands division summarizes why—after abandoning the concept of asking their log haul contractors to install Tire Pressure Control (TPC) systems in the early 1990s—they are once again encouraging their use.

Weyerhaeuser operates both a sawmill and a pulp mill in Grande Prairie.

“We wanted to increase our haul days and we also realized that we were going into some marginal blocks. So we wanted to increase our access into those blocks,” says Tony Dozorec, the second manager with Henry in the harvest and haul division.

Block roads can be steep and the weather unpredictable where Weyerhaeuser sources its wood on the eastern shoulders of the Rocky Mountains for its Grande Prairie operations. While road integrity has been okay this year, Dozorec says, “the weather kicked our butts last year,” with warm winter weather and no frost in the ground in some cases. That encouraged Weyerhaeuser to augment its TPC fleet for this season, with both its existing log haul contractors and a new contractor.

Henry adds that there have been a number of improvements to TPC systems since its early days. For example, losing pressure from a broken valve or line to one tire now does not cause a pressure loss throughout the entire system. It is locked out and isolated with a check valve, making it easier to continue operating and to repair the problem.

“When it was tested roughly 15 to 20 years ago, there were some issues with it,” says Henry. “In my opinion, those have been rectified. Even on the maintenance side now, we are hearing about the maintenance being extraordinarily low.”

The re-introduction of TPC systems at Weyerhaeuser Grande Prairie has been a phased in program. Two of their main contractors, D & J Isley & Sons and Cutbank Trucking, have partially converted their fleets. A new contractor, J. E. Sellors Services, has the majority of its fleet equipped with Tireboss TPC systems. Weyerhaeuser hired the company last year on condition that its fleet was equipped with this system. Dozorec says that Weyerhaeuser realizes that there are added costs to installing these systems that must be accounted for in the hauling rate.

Although veteran log haul contractor and J. E. Sellors Services owner Jeremy Sellors says he had heard about variable tire pressure control technology, this is the first time he has installed it in his fleet. While he is a new contractor with Weyerhaeuser in Grande Prairie, he worked for over 20 years as a log haul contractor for Slocan and Canfor in Fort Nelson, B.C. He operates seven Tireboss-equipped trucks for Weyerhaeuser and has two sub-contractors also using the system.

Sellors describes his experience working with the system as “early days”, but adds that there is no doubt about its traction properties when hauling on dirt and muddy roads.

“It’s mostly a traction aid,” he says of the Tireboss-equipped systems installed on his trucks. “It’s not a magic cure-all, but it’s definitely an advantage to have it on the trucks when they are hauling on a soft road.”

When the systems were installed last fall, he says that TPC International provided some initial training for his truck drivers. He described the control system as fairly easy for the average driver to sort out.

“Basically, it has what terrain you are driving on and you set the tire pressure to that,” he says.

In terms of use, Sellors says the Tireboss system is essentially engaged full time, adding that, “if it is being used properly, it is in use whenever the truck is moving.” And in terms of maintenance, he says there is definitely more maintenance with trucks equipped with tire pressure controls systems vs. a conventional truck, “but regular maintenance isn’t huge.”

There were no adjustments in tire brands or sizes required when the systems were installed on the J. E. Sellors Services trucks. The tires being used by Sellors are the same tires that came with the trucks and trailers. His sub-contractors are using different tire brands, and Sellors says he is aware of no difference in the system operating from one brand to another.

“Given the right field conditions, it is definitely going to work better than a conventional truck would,” he concludes.

D & J Isley & Sons has been using the Tireboss TPC system extensively over the past four years. Henry says that along with stockpiling some of Weyerhaeuser’s logs in satellite yards for easier access when block roads are inaccessible, the log haul contractor has been able to deliver logs to the forest company’s yards almost year ‘round. Typically there would be considerable downtime during spring break up, anywhere from one to three months each year.

Henry is aware of at least one situation where a contractor typically needed to tow fully loaded log haul trucks up a steep haul road in wet conditions. However, Tireboss-equipped log haul trucks were able to make it up the slope under their own power, without reducing the size of their load.

In terms of block roads, Weyerhaeuser has built them a bit wider to accommodate the TPC-equipped trucks, because when the trucks move, they don’t follow in the same track as other trucks. This requires a wider road, but on the upside, a larger tire footprint has a healing effect on the road, meaning it requires less road maintenance. Weyerhaeuser has witnessed this effect.

Staff from TPC International, the manufacturers of the Tireboss system, have been spending time with drivers to help them understand and operate the system and Henry says the service has been excellent.

Both Dozorec and Henry say they would definitely recommend TPC systems to other forest companies based on their positive experiences.

Commercial use of variable tire pressure control technology started in Canadian forestry

It’s been about 25 years since variable tire pressure control technology became available commercially to Canadian log haul contractors. Over that time, it has undergone several key improvements and has found a global market.

One Canadian company, Edmonton, Alberta-based TPC International, has installed thousands of systems over that time in 15 countries.

Weyerhaeuser’s Grande Prairie, Alberta timberlands operationWith advances in computer technology and continuing research over the past quarter century to fine tune system operations, log haul contractors can now purchase more durable, user-friendly, and reliable tire pressure control systems for less money.

The technology was first applied in amphibious landing craft developed by General Motors during World War II. Initial research was conducted for commercial log haul applications in both Canada and the United States. Further research and development by companies like TPC International was instrumental in advancing the technology to its current state.

As is often the case, system costs tend to become more affordable as demand increases. Brian Spreen, president of TPC International, says the cost for one of the company’s Tireboss systems now is probably about two-thirds of the cost of the original systems put in place in the early 1990s.

With advances in computer technology and continuing research over the past quarter century to fine tune system operations, log haul contractors can now purchase more durable, user-friendly, and reliable systems for less money.

Alberta Pacific Forest Industries (ALPAC) and Riverside Forest Products (now part of Tolko Industries) in Canada, as well as Weyerhaeuser in the U.S., were among the first forestry companies to embrace the technology.

In the early 1990s, the Forest Engineering Research Institute of Canada (FERIC), which is now part of FPInnovations, developed a prototype system for forestry application in partnership with a company called Eltek Inc. It was installed on a 7-axle B-train used to transport chips from an in-woods chipper. The system trials proved successful, and in 1992, an Athabasca, Alberta-based company called Redline Equipment began manufacturing, servicing and refining the system based on the prototype design. TPC International was established in 1996 by the principal developers of the product, and it continues to successfully market its Tireboss tire pressure control system around the world.

ALPAC was so impressed with the benefits delivered by variable tire pressure control technology used on its log haul trucks and other heavy trucks in its contractor fleet that it mandated the use of this technology during its summer logging operations, and continues to require it of its contractors today.

Throughout the past two decades, TPC International has been working hard to extend acceptance and market reach of its technology throughout North America and Europe. Major breakthroughs occurred when the Tire & Rim Association (TRA) published its tire pressure control system load inflation table as a standard in 1999, which provided more confidence to tire manufacturers that use of variable tire pressure control technology according to these standards was safe.

In 2006, Michelin announced that it endorsed the use of tire pressure control systems and would honor warranties on tires operated with these systems. TPC International says that in general, tire companies have been honoring warranties on tires equipped with variable tire pressure systems on a case-by-case basis. All require that the pressures used match TRA recommendations.

In addition to forestry applications, variable tire pressure technology is now being used in agriculture, construction, bulk transport, fire fighting, concrete mix, power utility, oilfield and exploration vehicles.

Logging and Sawmilling Journal
May/June 2016

On the Cover:
On the B.C. Coast, it’s about getting the wood to the water, but before it hits the water, it needs to be harvested in the woods. And this September will see the full range of harvesting equipment working at the DEMO 2016 show being held in Maple Ridge, B.C. Please see the preview story on DEMO, beginning on page 28 of this issue. (Photo of B.C. dryland sort by Paul MacDonald).

Beetle attack: but this time it’s the spruce beetle
As if the B.C. Interior has not been hit hard enough by the mountain pine beetle, there have been recent increases in the spruce beetle population in the Central Interior of B.C. Details on what is being done to fight/contain the latest scourge in the forests.

Sawmill muscle
EACOM Timber partnered with equipment supplier Autolog to optimize the company’s Val D’Or and Timmins sawmills, achieving value uplift at both operations, strengthening them and giving them more market resilience.

Logging partners in profit
An award-winning logging partnership between the Quatsino First Nation and Western Forest Products on the B.C. Coast is delivering efficiencies—and profits—to the two partners.

A (sawmill) offer you can’t refuse
Weyerhaeuser Canada made Alberta sawmill owner Guido Unger a (good) offer he couldn’t refuse: the purchase of a used USNR line that will allow his sawmill to ramp up production considerably.

Coming in September: DEMO 2016
Full details on the upcoming largest logging equipment show in Canada this year: DEMO 2016, being held in Maple Ridge, B.C. from Sept. 22-24, with all of the major logging equipment manufacturers represented.

Hands-on harvesting approach
Nova Scotia logger John Dorey has been recognized by the Canadian Woodlands Forum for his hands-on approach to meeting the needs of woodlands clients, and excelling at partial harvesting.

Getting more control over log hauling
Weyerhaeuser’s Grande Prairie, Alberta timberlands operation is phasing in more tire pressure-controlled equipped log haul trucks, allowing them to increase their access on steep logging roads, even in bad weather.

Variable Tire Pressure Control 101: What are its benefits?

More chips to go...
New Brunswick’s Billy and Ronnie Gillespie are innovators when it comes to their chipping operation

Urban logging in Alberta
Alberta’s Shawn Moore has moved beyond the oil patch, and his tree removal business has now morphed into doing urban logging—and they’re diverting trees from the landfill.

The Edge
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories from the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre and Alberta Innovates - Bio Solutions.

The Last Word
Winters aren’t what they used to be, and that simple fact is impacting the forest industry, says Jim Stirling.


Tech Update: Forwarders

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