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TimberWest November/December 2013

March/April 2015

The GP grapple processor head by Pierce Pacific allows a single carrier to accomplish tasks that normally tie up two machines.

Making the Cut
Mike Pihl Logging continues to find success with its ‘never give up’ motto

Making a Niche
Pacific Logging and Processing finds a niche providing services for small-scale private landowners, which the company calls “‘permits to planting”

Wood Biomass Column
Oregon Sen. backs woody biomass
for government buildings

Pursuing Innovation
Tolko Industries teams with Oregon Manufacturer to try out GP head are
small volume applications.

Teaching Teachers
Sustainable Forestry Tour
Opens Teachers’ Eyes

Stewards of the Future
Chilkat Logging is Oregon’s only certified logging operation located on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation

Oregon Logging Conference Review
Highlights of the OLC,
including pictorial review

RLC Review
Highlights of the 2015 Redwood
Logging Conference


In the News

Association News

New Products

Guest Column





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B.C.'s Tolko IndustriesPursuing Innovation

B.C.’s Tolko Industries teams with Oregon Manufacturer

By Paul MacDonald

There’s really no other way to put it: Earl Corsi has a pretty cool job.

Corsi, woodlands manager for the Thompson Nicola Woodlands division of forest company Tolko Industries in B.C.’s Southern Interior, has the usual responsibilities of a woodlands manager, and he has taken on something extra.

Searching Out New Technology

Corsi’s special focus is to always be on the lookout—and to check out—new types of equipment.

“I’m always looking for new and different logging and log handling equipment,” says Corsi, who works out of Tolko’s office in Heffley Creek, north of Kamloops, B.C.

This focus led him directly to the GP grapple processor head manufactured by Pierce Pacific Manufacturing, at their plant in Portland, Ore.

A niche Tolko has identified for the Pierce Pacific GP head are small volume applications, where a contractor might send a processor and a loader in to an area.

In an era of multi-tasking, the Pierce Pacific GP grapple processor looks to be the perfect machine for the times. It combines the functions of a grapple and the utility of a processor into a single machine. At a price less than that of an ordinary processing head, loggers can increase their productivity with a machine that sorts, loads, and shovels like a grapple—and delimbs, measures, and cuts like a processor–more than six functions in one attachment, says the company.

Accomplishing the tasks of two machines, loggers will attain significant savings in time, fuel, labor, and maintenance costs, not to mention radically improved equipment utilization.

Corsi came across the GP when it was still fairly new, and there were only nine or ten GP heads out there, mostly in Oregon. “At that point, Pierce wasn’t ready to expand beyond that, to Canada. But I let them know we were very interested and asked them to keep us in mind.”

Deciding on the GP

Corsi made two “intel” trips to Oregon, to see the Pierce manufacturing facility, and to see the GP in action. Illustrating the company’s level of interest in the GP, one of the trips included members of Tolko’s founding family, the Thorlaksons, who take a keen interest in new and emerging technologies in the forest industry.

With those trips, Tolko confirmed that Pierce was ready to enter the Canadian and B.C. market—and that Tolko would work on their end to help introduce the GP to their contractors.

Tolko has now purchased two of the GP heads, which are being supported and serviced in B.C. by dealer Inland Parker Pacific.

“We stationed one head in the southern interior of B.C., doing a similar type of wood profile to what they have in Oregon, and what the head was designed for,” explained Corsi. “We took the other GP head to Quesnel, in the Central Interior, and put it in the kind of wood and terrain that it wasn’t necessarily designed for, just to see what it could do.”

After six months, the GP has proven its stuff successfully in the two different types of trials.

B.C.'s Tolko IndustriesIn an era of multi-tasking, the Pierce GP grapple processor gives Tolko more options with one piece of equipment.

Technology Is a Good Fit

So far, it’s been a good fit. The unique arm contour of the GP features patent-pending technology that makes it easy to handle timber up to 52” and efficiently feed logs without releasing or re-handling. The grapple arms can handle big timber and are said to be ideal for picking individual stems, as well as handling multiple logs without crisscrossing.

The innovative arm design also includes integral feed wheels that allow operators to shovel logs farther in fewer turns. Other advances include a full scale measuring system for calculating log length and diameter, allowing the processing function to easily merchandize logs. Integral feed wheels grab and shovel logs farther in fewer turns, as well as easily move or reposition logs without re-handling while loading or sorting.

The GP’s innovative design allows it to reposition long logs, handle bundles of short wood and distribute brush. It can be used with both new and pre-existing log loaders, making it economical as well as efficient.

Encouraging Innovation

Tolko took on the job of introducing the new attachment to its contractors, with the purchase of the two GP heads. According to Corsi, this initiative is part of an effort to support their logging contractors in making the move to new equipment and encourage innovation. “We wanted to help the transition and communicate what the equipment is all about—not simply do a one-day demo, but have it working in the bush,” explained Corsi.

“We’ve been bringing as many guys as we can that work for us to see the machine, to show its capabilities and what kind of niche it can fit. It is a different attachment, but we believe we know enough about it to see that is has a place in the woods in B.C..”

With Tolko’s encouragement—and support—the GP has worked in two contractor operations. “We went to them, asked them to put a man in the seat, and worked with them on it, and helped reduce their cost exposure,” said Corsi.

B.C.'s Tolko IndustriesGreat Feedback

Feedback from the operators has been positive. Within an hour, they’ve figured things out, and are seeing how the head can work well. Processor operators seem to make the transition easier than loader operators, but that really depends on the operator.

One of the contractors, Main Logging, really liked the GP heads and has since purchased one, which is mounted on a Tigercat 880.

“That’s really our end goal—to get new equipment that works well introduced to our contractors,” explained Corsi. “Tolko is not in the business of owning equipment. We just want to make sure that innovation happens.”

He adds that with the cost of new-to-the-industry equipment, contractors won’t take the risk if they can’t completely see the benefits.

“What we’ve done is taken some risk, to push the innovation side of it—Tolko has some skin in the game, to help contractors learn about new equipment.”

B.C.'s Tolko IndustriesTolko found the GP head a great fit for small volume applications.


In terms of applications in B.C., Tolko sees the GP head as a multi-purpose attachment for processing, loading, and hoe chucking.

“The GP is really a bit of a hybrid,” he explains. “It’s not the equivalent of a big loader, or the equivalent of a big processor. It does a lot of things really well. It does not do one thing really excellent—but that’s not the way it was designed.”

It was, Corsi says, designed for niches.

“The niches we’ve identified are small volume applications. Today, someone might send a processor and a loader to an area. But the GP is one head that can do both those tasks. You can cut down on the number of machines, the moving costs, and the number of operators. You can have one person, one machine, doing the job.” It could also be used as a very versatile tool in general operations for a large contractor, he added.

What’s coming up for Tolko and its contractors is a good reason the GP head is an especially good fit.

“The number one reason why we went after it is we have a big steep slope initiative—and we’re talking about towers and grapple yarders in these settings.” A contractor could be in an area where they are doing just three to four truckloads a day, and it’s difficult to justify a large number of pieces of equipment in this kind of volume.

“This one piece of equipment fits really well into those small volume applications—that’s probably its best niche,” says Corsi.

U.S. Operations

As part of their due diligence, Tolko toured four different logging operations in Washington and Oregon that use the head, and the contractors they talked with said it has done more than they anticipated—one contractor is now on his second GP head.

“The loader or processing functions are not one to one compared to a dedicated loader or processor, but you’re not comparing apples to apples. It’s done better than expected; they thought it might perform at 50 percent production rates, and it’s more like 75 to 80 percent.”

Servicing and Carrier Size

The serviceability of the GP is also a selling point, says Corsi. It’s made up of standard components, with lots of access panels, and it has a DASA computer system. “If anyone is used to working on standard heads, they can pick up and learn on the GP head pretty quick.”

Perhaps its biggest limitation is the size of carrier needed to support the head, which weighs in at 6,000 pounds. “To use it in a loading application, you need a little bigger carrier, to unload the trailers. And if you are unloading quad trailers, the loads can be very heavy.” So the counterweight and reach are important. Pierce recommends a minimum 85,000 pound carrier.

At the end of the day, Tolko sees that by helping contractors keep up with technology, they are also helping Tolko remain efficient and keep up with technology. “We’re really working for a win-win,” says Corsi.

While he promotes the GP head, Corsi is continuing the hunt for what might be next for new technology in logging. “I’m looking every day for the big game changer for the industry,” he says.

“The forest industry and Tolko will be facing some challenges, whether it is a shortage of skilled labor or going to more difficult terrain, and we know we need to pursue innovation to meet those challenges.”