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--  Commercial Thinning  --

Built to THIN

Rocan’s new Enviro thinning harvester meets a growing need for purpose-built commercial thinning machines.

By Tony Kryzanowski

comthin1.jpg (95880 bytes)
comthin2.jpg (22262 bytes)Nova Scotia contractor Clyde Hayne recently launched his first commercial thinning operation for Stora Forest Products, harvesting wood in the northern half of the province. Hayne opted for Rocan’s Enviro thinning harvester because it was purpose-built for the type of harvesting work his operation is doing.

In an era of evolving logging practices, equipment suppliers have to be ahead of the curve and respond to new methods in the industry, in addition to meeting the changing needs of con-tractors who are working in convention-al logging operations. With the introduction of the Enviro commercial thinning harvester, Canadian forestry equipment manufacturer Rocan Forestry Service Ltd. has illustrated that they intend to be at the front of the pack in providing equipment that addresses industry trends. Due to the growth of commercial, pre-commercial and salvage thinning, the Enviro harvester looks to have a ready-made market.

The practice of commercial thinning is an extremely meticulous business. The goal of forestry companies with thinning pro-grams is not necessarily volume, but mini-mal damage to remaining trees. The gardener, versus farmer, analogy once again comes into play.

Nova Scotia contractor Clyde Hayne of Clyde Hayne Pulp Contracting Ltd. recent-ly launched his first commercial thinning operation for Stora Forest Products. He is harvesting wood at various sites in the northern half of the province. When he began shopping for a mechanical harvester for use in commercial thinning, he discovered the market had limited options. "There’s quite a few big machines out there, but I don’t know where all the big wood is going to come from," Hayne says. "There’s not a lot of big wood left in Glasgow County. There’s quite a bit of thinning to be done."

In fact, Stora assured him that if he changed his focus to commercial thinning from harvesting, he’d have at least five years of work ahead of him. Stora believes that by commercial thinning selected cut-blocks, they can achieve as much as 20 per cent additional growth on the remaining trees.

Ultimately, Hayne and Stora agreed that Rocan’s Enviro harvester was the way to go in terms of equipment because it was pu-pose- built for their exact needs. Rocan introduced the Enviro thinning harvester about a year and a half ago, and have sold three units to date. The first machine was sold to a Val D’Or, Quebec, contractor who purchased the machine after seeing it at the Quebec City Logfor Show last year, followed up by a one week initial on-site demonstration in Amos. Being located on the east coast— where forestry giant Irving began commercial thinning its plantations about eight years ago—Rocan had first-hand knowledge of where much of Canada’s forest industry was headed. At that time, Rocan president Alan Anderson introduced a commercial thin-ning harvester using a Versatile 9030 4- wheel drive tractor. While it was durable and represented a low capital cost alternative to the purchase of a commercial harvester, Rocan discovered that the lack of differential lock on the tractor working in the forest was a problem.

When Versatile manufacturer New Holland decided to stop production of the unit, Anderson realized that it was time to design and manufacture his own machine. The result was the Enviro thinning harvester, built from stem to stern with commercial thinning in mind.

One of the key ingredients to successful commercial thinning is a machine’s ability to manoeuvre into position without a lot of residual tree damage. The Enviro is only two metres wide and 4.3 metres long, with a short wheelbase of 2.6 metres. Equipped with an articulated steering joint with double steering cylinders, it has a steering angle of plus or minus 45 degrees for turning in tight spaces. The Enviro frame has 20-degree mid-joint oscillation, and the frame has ground clearance of 62.5 centimetres.

Rocan is the Canadian distributor for the Rottne line of Swedish forestry equipment and LogMax harvesting heads east of Ontario and in the state of Maine. Many of the same components built into the Rottne have been included on the Enviro.Computerization has been kept to a mini-mum on the unit, however. Company spokesman Jacques Ouellet says that it is a simplified machine.

The Enviro comes equipped with either a Rottne RK-42 or Mowi 465 loader. Reach on both is about 6.5 metres. Lifting capacity on the Rottne at full reach is 600 kgs, and on the Mowi, 575 kgs. There is also the option of either the LogMax 828 or the LogMax 3000 harvester/processor head. Ouellet says the LogMax 3000 is about 20 percent stronger. Head functions are controlled by the Logmate 400D Control System.

Hayne has purchased the LogMax 3000 head with his harvester. "I cut a 20 inch tree with it the other day, which is pretty good for a little head," says Hayne. "And it did a pretty good job." The head works best with about 12 inch trees, he notes. The size range in the area where Hayne will be commercial thinning is from eight to 12 inches.

Powering the Enviro is a 4-cylinder, water-cooled, Iveco 7450 turbo engine, a pump-drive split-box with clutch, and hydraulics and transmission built together in a compact unit. Output at 2100 rpm is 120 hp. The torque at 1400 rpm is 339 ft/lbs. The unit has a four-speed hydrostatic/ mechanical transmission that incorporates a two-speed geared drop box, a two-speed hydrostatic motor, and manual differential locks. The hydrostatic system is fully separated from the working hydraulics with a separate oil reservoir.

The hydraulics have two separate systems, one for working hydraulics and one for the transmission. The working hydraulics are an unloaded constant pressure system. It has JIC hydraulic fittings, and disengagable pumps. The pump capacity is 200 litres/minute at 2000 rpm, and it delivers a working pressure of 3045 psi. In addition to 20 degree frame oscillation, the cab also has tilting capability of plus or minus 15 degrees.

"When you are working on the side of a hill or on a stump, you can adjust your cab," says Hayne. "It also gives you more stability." Standard tire size is 500/65x26.5, but contractors can request optional 600/55x26.5 or 700/50x26.5 tires as well.

Prior to putting it through its first legitimate commercial thinning challenge, Hayne put his Enviro to work in some extremely harsh surroundings south of New Glasgow. The terrain was rocky and wet, with steep slopes and plenty of bumps. Despite these adverse conditions, the Enviro exhibited excellent flotation, with minimal environ-mental damage. The thinning harvester weighs in at 7,580 kgs with full service tanks, LogMax 828 head, GV-3 rotator, Mowi 465 loader, and 500/65x26.5 tires.

Hayne was satisfied with the harvester’s initial production. "We’re cutting 12 to 15 cords per day with it in 10 hours," he says. "That’s not bad considering we’ve never operated the machine before." It’s difficult to set a production target for commercial thinning, he says, because volume is not necessarily the objective, and price varies depending on the size of commercially thinned trees. What sticks in the back of his mind, however, is that he is only allowed four damage marks per hectare.

This is Hayne’s first mechanical harvester and he estimates it will replace the production of eight chainsaw operators once he begins operating on a two-shift basis of 10 hours each. He didn’t have much choice given the difficulty in finding people will-ing to work a chainsaw.

"I couldn’t get the men to work," says Hayne. "When a rainy day comes, all the men stay home and I’m sitting there with nothing to do. Last year, I had 14 men. This year, I’m down to six. You just can’t get men to cut any more."

Hayne decided to investigate the avail-ability of commercial thinning harvesters and the method in general with other commercial thinning contractors. He says he and Stora settled on the purpose-built Enviro over tractor-type commercial harvesters.

"The tractor-types weren’t quite heavy enough for the forest," says Hayne. "They (other contractors) were having trouble with housings, axles and rear ends. We felt the Enviro was built better, had a tilt cab, had a few more options that made it better for the operator and was more sturdy." Rocan’s Jacques Ouellet points out that the Enviro is manufactured with QT100 plate steel.

Hayne adds that he is satisfied with his thinning harvester’s fuel consumption, which is about 12 litres per hour. It carries a 150-litre fuel tank. He is not too concerned with overheating in warmer weather due to the construction of the Enviro’s cooling sys-tem. The cooling fan speed is adjustable according to cooling requirements and it is reversible so that the fan will blow air right onto the motor. "That should be able to keep it cool," says Hayne.

They have experienced no downtime and have encountered only a few minor problems with the Enviro after about three months of production.

They conduct regular preventive maintenance on the unit each day and the operator can easily access grease points. Rocan provides an optional spare parts kit with the unit and has an ample supply of parts a short distance away at their manufacturing plant in Dieppe, New Brunswick.

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