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Multi-Purpose Yard Machine

Denharco's redesign of its Paralift log-handling attachment gets a solid review from early mill users in Quebec and Saskatchewan.

By Tony Kryzanowski
Copyright 1997. Contact publisher for permission to use.

The versatility of Denharco's new Paralift log handler and wheel loader package in the mill yard has saved a Quebec sawmill from having to install an infeed deck.

The Paralift log handler has been around for a few decades. Now, Quebec-based manufacturer Denharco has made several important modifications to it. So far, mill yard supervisors seem pleased with the changes.

The Davidson sawmill, located at Fort Coulonge, Quebec near Ottawa, put their Paralift log handler to work last November. They have it mounted on a Komatsu WA500 wheel loader.

Davidson sawmill is privately owned by three partners, and manufactures dimensional lumber from white pine, red pine and spruce. Prior to purchasing the Paralift, they were unloading trucks, transporting and feeding their debarker with a Tanguay loader and trailer.

"I needed a machine to keep the debarker going, and one machine to bring the logs to the mill," says Davidson sawmill yard foreman Patrick Francoeur. "Either we bought another machine or built a deck. We tried the Komatsu with the Paralift to unload the trucks and feed the debarker. And we were able to do it with only that machine."

The Davidson sawmill Paralift package has a 2-1/4-cord grapple, unloading logs ranging from 8' to 16'. About 80 per cent are 16', and the logs vary in diameter from 8'' to 36''.

Francoeur says its takes the Paralift operator about six minutes to unload a truck, or about seven to eight minutes, considering the 800 metres it travels from the debarker where it is feeding the mill to the stockpile location.

Other than a chain-jamming problem on the grapple that has been remedied, the Paralift and Komatsu package have so far met their expectations.

"It's a comfortable machine," he says. "It's strong enough to unload the trucks and picks up quite a lot of logs in one grapple."

The Paralift log handler maintains considerable loyalty among those who first bought into this new technology back in the late 1970s. Saskfor Macmillian maintenance supervisor Rob Granberg, at their Hudson's Bay, Saskatchewan oriented strand board (OSB) plant, says they have been using the Paralift log handler in their yard since the late 1970s when it was still manufactured by Harricana.

Last October, they purchased a new Caterpillar 980G wheel loader, and a newly modified Paralift log handler package to replace an aging unit.

"I guess we were inclined to go with this principle of a machine because it has worked for us," he says. "It has relatively low maintenance and relatively good visibility."

They also have more than one use for their wheel loader. Saskfor Macmillan uses their CAT wheel loader and Paralift log handler to unload and stockpile 8' aspen from logging trucks. They also use it to feed their mill ponds.

"It's a stable unit and our operators work well with it," Granberg adds. They have six operators using the machine.

Saskfor Macmillan has also increased its lifting capacity, fitting the new unit with a 2-1/4- cord grapple, versus a 1-1/2-cord grapple on their old unit.

Denharco has modified its Paralift log handler so that it can be equipped with a variety of grapples to handle 4', 8' or 16' logs.

The Paralift log handler will work on a variety of wheel loaders, but is manufactured specifically for the Caterpillar 980G or Komatsu WA500.

This could be a drawback to some mills already heavily invested in another wheel loader yard unit. Denharco spokesman Yves Sicotte says the Paralift is a purpose-built unit, but they have plans to design the Paralift log handler to fit on a Komatsu WA450, or other wheel loaders such as CASE. Davidson sawmill also considered a Volvo wheel loader.

"It's not like an attachment," he says. "It must be fit on the machine with high precision."

The Paralift's new zig-zag shape is unique to mill yard equipment, and does not seem to hamper visibility based on feedback from Saskfor Macmillan and Davidson.

Denharco says its new panoramic design gives carrier operators maximum visibility. The main boom and the auxiliary boom have been redesigned to provide a broader field of vision. To accomplish this, they have eliminated the transversal struts and moved the vertical struts outward.

"The new construction also allowed us to review the design of the auxiliary boom and to provide it with greater resistance to stress and increased strength for handling logs," says Sicotte.

Davidson's Francoeur agrees that the Paralift's panoramic design does give operators good visibility when unloading or feeding the mill. He adds that Davidson opted for the Komatsu over the Caterpillar wheel loader because they felt the Komatsu could perform as well as the Caterpillar, but was cheaper to buy. Denharco's Sicotte says Paralift's new zig-zag design has some inspired engineering behind it, but strength and stability is not sacrificed for better visibility.

"Paralift's new geometry facilitates the forward and upward movement of the booms without exceeding its lifting capacity," says Sicotte, "even when heavily loaded."

Among the other improvements are a lubrication system based on multi-point distribution blocks that are accessible from the ground. They have also improved the sturdiness of the 360� rotator.

The question most mill yard managers have is whether to invest in a tracked vehicle or a wheeled vehicle for the yard. Among the most legitimate complaints against wheel loaders by mill managers is yard damage. But sometimes stacking space is limited, and it just simply is not possible to fit a large-production, tracked vehicle in a confined space. Or funds are tight, and they can not afford two pieces of equipment.

Denharco says the wheel loader and Paralift log handler excels in a confined space because it moves quickly and can manoeuvre easily. Their package can stack comparably with tracked carriers, but the height will depend more on the mill yard's selection of carrier than on the Paralift log loader itself.

There is little or no danger that the Paralift's log load will exceed the wheel loader's capacity. Denharco says that the carrier will operate at about 50 per cent of its maximum capacity even when fully loaded.

Then, of course, there is the issue of cash outlay. Because the Denharco package works well either unloading and stacking logs or feeding the mill, mill owners obviously achieve considerable versatility.

Davidson sawmill and Saskfor Macmillan are two examples of equipment savings by using more versatile equipment.

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