It’s turning out to be a challenging year for the forest industry, with the COVID-19 situation affecting all sectors, from the forest to the sawmills—and also changing the picture in terms of industry events, such as trade shows, which have been cancelled or rescheduled. Shows have been great settings for introducing new logging equipment.
One of the most crucial sectors of the forest industry, of course, is logging. With the forest industry having been declared an essential industry, loggers continue to provide mills with much-needed timber in challenging times.
In light of these events, Logging and Sawmilling Journal is publishing this “Equipment Suppliers Update”.
We know that equipment manufacturers and dealers have not stopped developing new products and we hope we can help bring those to light through this “Equipment Suppliers Update”. We talked with several major dealers about how they are working with the current COVID-19 situation—and what they have in the works for new logging equipment for loggers.
What is the biggest issue for your customers in terms of COVID-19, and how are you helping them deal with that issue?
Through our equipment Finance Partner, Caterpillar Financial Services Ltd., we have been able to help numerous loggers and manufacturers restructure payments or defer payments, as they manage constraints with cash flow and capital budgets. As we have seen recently, activity has increased in forestry and this breathing room has really made a difference as we come out of this challenge.
We are supported by Komatsu, a world class manufacturer. They were able to quickly launch several supportive financing programs, deferred payment options, and a newly introduced standard 2-year, 5,000-hour warranty on feller bunchers, in addition to the standard Komatsu Care program, providing complimentary maintenance for the first three years or 2,000 hours on all forestry products (with the exception of harvesters and forwarders).
SMS Equipment’s ability to offer in-house warranty programs tailored to customers’ needs has been successful with our customers, providing them peace of mind with their warranty coverage.
We have been able to support our customers over the last few months, and as many return to work, we continue to work behind the scenes to develop new strategies to help them.
Great West Equipment:
There are a wide range of concerns, from health and safety to the struggles all businesses have faced during this time, some stemming from the state of the forestry industry leading into the pandemic.
We pride ourselves in being big enough to service our territory and small enough to listen to and adapt with our customers. Many of the brands we represent have come to the table with offers to help alleviate any immediate financial concerns for our customers, but more importantly, our team has spent the last year listening to each of our customers to understand their unique goals, circumstances and challenges so we can create specific proposals to meet their short term and long term needs.
The Inland Group:
In a time of hardship, our task is to offer a stable support system by continually supporting customers with wholesale, parts, service, and financing needs. As our customers operate in essential industries, whether that be trucking, forestry, or construction, our duty to support these businesses has become even more vital. Our respect and appreciation for our customers has truly become apparent during this pandemic as they are keeping our communities strong and running.
Many customers have opted to use Inland’s Online Parts Counter to order parts and have them delivered directly to their business. This tool provides customers another option to navigate office policies, work from home set-ups, or just personal preferences.
The absence of the next Truck Loggers Convention & Tradeshow is also felt. Customers and Inland employees look forward to this conference every year to catch up with each other and industry news. Instead, Inland Sales Consultants have opted to catch up with customers over the phone or via email. The most important part has been shifting the focus from ourselves and focusing on the needs of our customers to learn what we can do to better support them during these times.
What changes have you made to your business as a logging equipment dealer to navigate the recent COVID-19 situation?
We have established a number of protocols to keep our people and customers safe and avoid direct contact. These include the obvious facemasks, barriers and hand sanitizers to things like the online Parts Store and Electronic drop boxes.
Finning had invested heavily in digital platforms like My.Finning.com, which provides customers with real time machine information, parts locators and other critical information—information which in the past required them to come into our branches. Now customers can access critical fleet and uptime information, parts ordering at their fingertips through their smart phones.
We adjusted our inventory on hand, and are rigged and ready to go. We have now modified our inventory planning accordingly for the upcoming season to ensure we have the right equipment at the right time for our customers.
Our goal is to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in our communities and worksites. SMS Equipment continues to adapt our prevention measures to ensure we are protecting the health and safety of our employees, our business partners, customers and visitors; especially those with underlying health conditions.
Great West Equipment:
Over the past few months Great West Equipment has made a few changes to navigate our new normal. We have increased our sanitization procedures and adapted to socially distant meetings and online communication tools, to ensure we are providing the level of service customers have all come to expect.
The Inland Group:
Over the last 70 years, since Inland’s origins in 1949, the business has persevered various obstacles and economic conditions. However, a pandemic is certainly a new challenge to navigate for us. Nevertheless, in today’s COVID-19 world, Inland has proven incredibly versatile to accommodate our customers, with the primary focus being the safety of customers and employees while continually offering the same level of great service and support.
As a logging equipment dealer, Inland’s daily operations have adapted. Extra time and resources have been carved out to allow for frequent sanitization, employee training, in-store modifications, and customer communication. Our parts and service departments have social distancing modifications, such as plexiglas counter barriers, floor stickers and employee face masks. Inland Service Technicians have been trained to thoroughly sanitize the cab interior, keys, and door handles both before and after service.
Inland prides itself on excellent customer service, so the biggest challenge has been maintaining relationship connections with customers. An integral part of a good, trustworthy relationship is the ability to look eye to eye and solidify a deal with a handshake. Inland Sales Consultants have become creative in closing deals during this pandemic. We are now prepared with hand sanitizer in pocket if a customer wants to seal the deal with a handshake.
Can you give us an idea of what you are excited about, what new logging equipment might be coming soon from you and the manufacturers you represent?
Finning represents five forestry brands: Caterpillar, Weiler, Log-Champ, Allied Wagner and Multi-Docker. These brands give us the broadest coverage of conventional products in the business. What makes these relationships work is their close association with Cat in that they utilize powertrain, undercarriage and an assortment of other Cat parts. From a dealer perspective, this makes it a lot easier to service and provide parts for these machines and keep our customers running.
The next generation Cat products are going to be revolutionary, building on the legacy of operator comfort, machine connectivity, productivity and reliability.
Weiler’s next generation feller bunchers are a step change in performance and reliability. This already competitive field is going to have an exciting challenger. Their upgraded skidders leverage the Cat history with some important improvements.
T-Mar continues to build on the success of the LC-550 and LC-650, and will be launching new products to help lower the costs of steep slope harvesting and make the application a lot safer.
Allied Wagner stackers have leapt forward in machine design and their investment in forestry shows in their new products. With the average Allied stacker having 50,000 hours of operation time, there will be lots of opportunity to modernize.
Multi-Docker has moved to Cat Next Gen uppers, which offer quick cycle times, and fuel efficiencies we have not seen before. Multi-Docker offers the widest range of material handling solutions on the market.
The future for forestry at Finning is bright given the investment we are seeing from our suppliers, and we are optimistic we are turning the corner out of the pandemic, and back into opportunity.
Over the last 24 months, we have seen Komatsu’s focus on entering the forestry market, with several acquisitions and product developments. Although COVID-19 has affected some of the timelines, we will see some new products soon. We are looking forward to the introduction of some new forestry products.
Great West Equipment:
As our forestry customers have navigated the industry over the past year, some have expanded their business to work in complementary industries. We are excited to be dual-purposing what was once considered strictly forestry equipment to work in other applications. The TimberPro TF840, for example, is being adjusted to move swamp mats in pipeline applications.
We appreciate being a part of so many wonderful forestry teams and the opportunity to work alongside customers in building a better tomorrow.
The Inland Group:
Despite everything else going on, this has been a great year for new Tigercat products.
Tigercat successfully launched the new purpose-built roadside processor. This package includes the 850E Carrier and 568 Processor Head. It is the only truly purpose-built roadside processor in its class. Industry-leading fuel economy, cooling capacity and revolutionary serviceability set the 850 apart from excavator conversions, while the 568 patented 4WD–2WD auto-shift drive system maximizes productivity.
Our Link-Belt 40 Series purpose-built forestry carriers continue to be a strong performer in the woods with Link-Belt actively working on product improvements for what the next generation of Link-Belt Forestry will look like. Keep an eye out for further information in winter 2021.
We are also excited to announce the introduction into the wood waste and biomass market with the Tigercat 6050 Carbonator, which uses a carbon sequestration process to reduce wood debris onsite. The Tigercat 6900 Horizontal Grinder is another new material processor designed for maximum production and uptime. It comes in either 850, 1050 or 1200 horsepower options.
Finally, we will see the first Tigercat six-wheel skidder with swing boom, the SB635H skidder, making its debut in B.C. this December. This will be the third ever swing boom off Tigercat’s production line.
With all these exciting new products, we are looking forward to even more announcements and product launches in 2021.
On the Cover:
The forest industry, from equipment dealers to loggers to sawmills, have new protocols to deal with related to COVID-19. With the forest industry having been declared an essential industry, loggers continue to provide mills with much-needed timber at a time when lumber is in high demand, hitting record prices. In this issue of Logging and Sawmilling Journal, we take a look at how equipment dealers are making sure their customers, the loggers, get the service they need safely, and efficiently. (Cover photo courtesy of Lusted Logging, Cawston, B.C.)
Traction for Yukon’s forest industry
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Big-time B.C. added value—with Mass Timber
A new $35 million production facility is nearing completion in B.C.’s West Kootenay region, a project that will take family-owned Kalesnikoff Lumber into a brand new—and exciting—market: Mass Timber.
Quebec’s Fortin Family: a forestry legacy
Although there are now multiple generations of the Fortin Family involved in the family business—Y.P.C. Contracting—company founder Paul-Henri Fortin is still engaged in the operation, at the age of 78.
Cutting for canoes…
Gerard Ostroskie’s small sawmill operation in Ontario has a strong focus on increasing grade and value, and has developed an interesting niche market: producing cedar cuts specifically for canoe builders.
A critical link in today's logging chain.
Team logging approach pays off
The harvesting/forwarding team approach of Eric Boissonneault and Marcel Coutoure works very well, resulting in a very productive flow of wood in Quebec’s Abitibi-Témiscaminque region—and backed up by solid equipment support.
Equipment dealers dealing with COVID-19
It’s shaping up to be a challenging year for the forest industry, with the COVID-19 situation affecting all sectors, from the sawmills through to the forest, and logging operations. We asked several major equipment dealers how they are working with the current COVID-19 situation—and what they have in the works for new logging equipment for loggers.
Included in this edition of The Edge, Canada’s leading publication on research in the forest industry, are stories the from Canadian Wood Fibre Centre (CWFC) and FPInnovations.
The Last Word
The forest industry has addressed systemic racism for decades with some success, but more work is needed, says Tony Kryzanowski.