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Advancing the Enviro

Rocan has rolled out the Enviro Advanced harvester, which offers numerous improvements and continues the Enviro tradition of being one of best first thinning machines on the market.

By George Fullerton

Rocan Forestry Inc started production of its Enviro harvester in 1998 to meet an industry need. The New Brunswickbased equipment company jumped into the harvester design and production world in order to answer the eastern North American demand for a small, agile and productive machine to handle first commercial thinning in plantations and natural stands that had been pre-commercially thinned. Rocan came with a strong reputation as a reliable Rottne distribution and sales dealership and a good track record for producing the Rocan T harvester. The Rocan T was a commercial thinning harvester based on the Versatile 9030 articulated Farm tractor. The Rocan T featured a Mowi 465 parallel crane fitted with a LogMax 828 processing head.                                   

The Enviro Advanced— equipped with a LogMax 4000 head—got a workout with Scott & Stewart Forestry Consultants on a Stora Enso operation, deep in the Cape Breton Highlands of Nova Scotia.

When New Holland bought out Versatile, the 9030 was discontinued and Rocan went searching for a replacement machine for the Rocan T application. Unable to find either a suitable replacement for the Versatile tractor, or a commercially produced harvester for early thinning, Rocan owner Alan Anderson took on the challenge to design and develop a harvester. In 1998, the Enviro prototype was tested.                                   

The concept was to build a short, narrow, sharp steering machine with high ground clearance and efficient processing capacity. Paying close attention to the engineering of the Rocan T and other commercial harvesters, Rocan designed and built a chassis and cab, then outfitted the framework with parts sourced from existing technologies.                                   

The original Enviro featured an overall length of 4.4 metres and wheelbase of 2.6 metres. The overall machine width was 2.2 metres with 500/65-26.5 tires, and ground clearance was 63 centimetres. The chassis provided 45 degree articulation and the lockable oscillation joint allowed the front and rear sections of the chassis to independently rotate 20 degrees. The Enviro also provided a manually operated 15 degree cab tilt feature.                                   

The original Enviro was built with an Iveco 120 horsepower engine with a 200 litre per minute hydraulic pump. The Mowi 465 parallel loader crane was originally mounted with a LogMax 828 and later models were produced with a LogMax 3000 head. Rocan continued to produce Enviro harvesters through to 2006, turning out machines in three and four machine production runs at their Moncton shops. The Enviro became the benchmark for first thinning harvesters right across eastern North America. But this year, Rocan rolled out the Enviro Advanced which offers numerous improvements on the decade-old original design. One of the first tests for the production run of the Enviro                                                     

Advanced was by Scott & Stewart Forestry Consultants from Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Scott & Stewart operate Enviro and

Neuson thinning harvesters as well as an excavator conversion harvester. They tested the Enviro Advanced on a Stora Enso operation, deep in the Cape Breton Highlands, earlier this year.                                                     

The new Enviro Advanced tested by Scott & Stewart featured the same basic chassis specs as the original Enviro, and was shod with 6.00/55 x 26.5 tires. Jimmy Crooks has booked several years in the seat of Scott & Stewart’s Enviro and was an enthusiastic test pilot for the redesigned harvester. Crooks’ first comment was on the expanded operator cab: “The new cab is great, I can stretch out some more, which makes it a whole lot more comfortable. I feel a lot less worn out at the end of each shift. Cab comfort has a big impact on operator fatigue, which in turn impacts production and quality.”                                                     

The Enviro Advanced cab features the 15 degree tilt feature of the original Enviro, as well as an enhanced heating and air conditioning system, an electrically heated suspension seat and Lexan windows.                                   

Crooks expressed concern for the lack of guarding for the windshield wiper at rest position. The original Enviro featured a metal guard. “When we are ghosting (traveling while harvesting) through the leave strip, there are always branches tangling up with the wiper. I did not have any problem during the testing period, but I would have concerns about the wiper over a longer period and in certain stand conditions                                   

“The other big improvement with this new machine is the travel pedal activation,” continued Crooks. “In the old machine, it was cable operated and it was wearing to operate it. At the end of the day, my leg would feel the effort. This new machine has electronic control, which is great for the operator.”                                   

Crooks also recognized increased power from the John Deere 4045 turbocharged engine. A reversible fan provides increased engine cooling capacity and reduces maintenance time. He also noted more swing power with the Mowi loader, now with a fourcylinder swing base. The Enviro Advanced offers the choice of Mowi 465 and 452 loaders with lift capacity of 575 and 800 kilograms, respectively, at full extension. The Scott & Stewart test machine was equipped with the Mowi 452 with the LogMax 4000 head. The swing angle is 220 degrees and the swing torque 12 and 16 kNm on the two Mowi crane models. Jacques Ouellette, salesman for Rocan, explained that the loader boom on the Enviro Advanced is one metre shorter—5.1 metres, rather than 6.1, and is more robust to handle a bigger head.                                   

The Enviro test machine was running a Motomit IT Control System for the LogMax 4000 head, and an IQAN Control System adjustment for controlling the loader and machine parameters and diagnostics.                                   

The Enviro Advanced has separate reservoirs and separate cooling systems for its hydrostatic oil system and the working hydraulics, which reduces oil contamination issues on the machine in case of component failure. The oil reservoirs and diesel tanks (200 litres) on the Advanced feature 33 per cent increased capacity. The hydraulic pumping system is a tandem set-up, with 135 cc capacity and a two-level pressure system. The Advanced has a four-speed hydrostatic/mechanical transmission system provided through a two-speed dropped gear box and two-speed hydrostatic drive motors. Differential lock is manually operated, giving the operator broad machine control options. Brakes are provided hydrostatically and are applied automatically when the machine is stopped. An oscillation lock applies automatically when the crane/processing head is activated.                                   

One of the major exterior changes to the Enviro Advanced is larger engine cowlings, which are integrated with the larger diesel and oil tanks. In addition to a larger engine, the compartment also grew to house the muffler and toolboxes. The engine hood has hydraulic assistance and the rear panel folds down, providing access to the pumps and fire suppression system. The on-board fire suppression system is supplemented by two ten-pound extinguishers mounted on top of the engine cowling.                                   

The Enviro Advanced scored high in a number of areas—including improved travel pedal activation— for equipment operator Jimmy Crooks (left in the photo) with Jacques Ouellette, salesman for Rocan Forestry. “This new machine has electronic control, which is great for the operator.”

The engine compartment is also accessed through hinged side panels. Batteries have moved to the rear frame, and the 24-volt charging system has changed to a two 55-amp alternator system.                 

Jimmy Crooks said that the lighting system on the Advanced, consisting of 19 70-watt lights, is good, but has limited effectiveness when in ghost trail application. “When we are doing ghost trails, we are continually moving through limbs so the lights are often obscured. Ideally, we would like to do the ghost trails in daylight when the visibility is the best and cut the main trails at night, because the machine sits on the trail and only reaches in the leave strip for harvesting.”                                   

Crooks went on to say that running an effective commercial thinning operation requires the trail cutter to have a comprehensive understanding of the complexity of the ghost trail cutting process.                                   

“The guy cutting the main trail and reaching in the leave strip to harvest is setting up the ghost trail operation. How the trail cutter creates openings into the strip and situates the wood piles is critical for the ghosting operation. I like doing both operations in the cut blocks—then I am confident when I do the ghost trail that I know I can get the wood in the piles and the forwarder can reach them too,” said Crooks. “If the trail cutter doesn’t understand the ghost trail challenges, it can be a real mess.”  

Ralph Stewart said he liked the new Enviro and that it has a lot of good improvements and innovations. “The Enviro is still the best machine for first entry commercial thinning that we have seen,” he said. “It is probably the most agile machine on the market. We are harvesting in stands where it takes up to 50 trees to make a tonne of wood, so we need a very productive and reliable machine.”                                   

The Stora Enso thinning operation is in stands that were pre-commercially thinned about 15 years ago. The commercial thinning removes about one third of the present volume, and aims to bring basal area to between 20 and 22 square metres per hectare.                                   

The Scott & Stewart operation features operational quality checks every week, which evaluates a variety of parameters including scarring, basal area, and crop tree selection. Operators do individual quality checks daily.                                   

“Jimmy operated one of the very first Enviro machines, and he is a very competent and productive operator. He told me that this new Enviro Advanced is the best yet. If the economy was better, we would certainly be looking to replace our present Enviro with the new one, without hesitation. But because of current market conditions in the industry, we cannot justify the investment. When things improve, the Enviro Advanced will be high on the list of investments,” said Stewart.                                   

Over the past ten years, the Enviro has firmly established its reputation as one of the best first thinning machines, logging millions of hours in the Atlantic Provinces, Quebec, Ontario and throughout the eastern seaboard of the United States. With an enviable track record for productivity in eastern North America, it is just a little ironic that in 2007, Rocan sent one of their new Enviro Advanced harvesters across the Atlantic to Scandinavia for a demo.