By Graham Hinch
The logging industry can be challenging and demanding, pushing loggers and their equipment to the limit daily. For even the most seasoned loggers, selecting the right machine can be a daunting process, as they have to weigh their needs and options to pick the best solution for their business.
To help loggers navigate the process, there are certain things they should keep in mind when building, or expanding, their fleet. While selecting a machine may seem pretty straightforward, the variety of options can often complicate things.
As a first step, loggers should figure out their business needs and evaluate their full fleet to maximize crew efficiency. While many loggers have mixed fleets, there are some inherent benefits to having similar machines. A key consideration is the type of production system, for example, wheeled cut-to-length or full-tree.
When building a machine fleet, each piece of equipment should complement the others. Because logging operations are designed in a production system, it is important to find a machine that balances productivity with the entire fleet. This is why some loggers prefer equipment from one manufacturer – machines are built to work well together, helping to increase fleet efficiency.
Additionally, be realistic about the logging conditions typically faced that may impact the type of equipment that will be used. For example, soft soil or steep slope applications will require a specific type of equipment. Make sure to look beyond the short-term timeframe and anticipate needs for the future. Purchasing a piece of equipment is a long-term investment, and it is important to keep in mind future growth, as well as any planned business changes in the future.
Once the type of equipment is determined, also identify other factors such as machine controls. Machine controls impact operator comfort and efficiency. We’ve seen more manufacturers incorporating configurable controls to help with the transition from one machine to another, allowing the operator to set up the machine in their preferred manner. Using similar controls will help to increase operability, a critical factor in an industry facing labor challenges.
Another area to keep in mind is machine telematics and the ability to remotely connect with machines, even from miles away. The right telematics solution will unlock key data to help increase performance while also alerting the owner to any maintenance needs.
In some cases, the telematics platform can even predict machine downtime before it occurs. The dealer can play a key role in maximizing the benefits of a telematics system. For example, John Deere dealers have access to machine data through the JDLink telematics platform. This system helps dealers identify machine issues, even providing insights into necessary parts or updates before trekking out to the jobsite.
Additionally, production-based technology, can help to connect the entire operation, increasing efficiency. With production-based technology, operators are able to share the status of jobs in real-time, while also alerting the rest of the crew to what they are seeing in the woods, such as hazards or other points of interest. This technology then shares production statuses with those managing the job, further increasing visibility and yield.
The Right Dealer
While machine capabilities are critical when expanding a fleet, there are other considerations to keep in mind that go beyond the iron. The dealer is important in the machine purchasing process and beyond. Of course, when purchasing a machine, the dealer will play a key role in the sales process. However, the right dealer will also become a dedicated partner, so when considering a new piece of equipment, it is important to look for specific things in the dealer.
Dealers are committed to the success of their customers, and a good dealer will go above and beyond to be the go-to resource. Having a trusted relationship is critical, and when a logger finds a good dealer it is important to take advantage of their expertise.
While some loggers run mixed fleets, there are benefits to working with one manufacturer and dealer for all equipment needs. With a single equipment manufacturer, customers have the benefit of that dealership becoming a one-stop shop, opposed to working with several different dealers to care for the entire fleet.
This also becomes a factor when it comes to parts. The first benefit is that the dealer has knowledge of all machines and access to manufacturer-approved parts, making it easier to manage your parts supply.
Additionally, by running machines from only one manufacturer, service is inherently easier due to similar configurations and parts. Routine maintenance and service access are often similar on machines from a single manufacturer, so crews will have an easier time completing daily checks and service intervals on machines.
Loggers should also consider how they are financing their machines, as some dealers can be more of a resource than others, and this is a key factor when buying a new machine. When selecting a financial institution, look at the company that backs the business.
Many financial groups, like John Deere Financial, are committed to supporting customers by offering flexible solutions designed to help loggers navigate the often unpredictable forestry industry. A good lender will provide options when times are uncertain or market conditions suddenly change.
Additionally, keep extended warranty options in mind as well. Manufacturers often offer longer financing terms, and you may want to consider extended warranty offerings that cover or even extend past the finance terms. Understanding the demanding conditions of the logging industry, this peace of mind and reassurance is key.
To summarize, when buying a new piece of equipment, it is important for you to evaluate all options to find a machine that complements your existing fleet. When looking at a new machine, consider the features and how the model integrates – or doesn’t – with your existing equipment. Consider the relationship with the dealer, and if there are ways to create efficiencies by expanding an existing partnership. Finally, work with a financial organization that is committed to you. By walking through these key considerations when selecting a new machine, you, the logger, will be able to find the right tools and allies for your business.
Graham Hinch is director of forestry sales, United States & Canada, John Deere
On the Cover
John Deere 2654G equipped with a Waratah head
Sierra Pacific Industries -Continuing the Sawmilling Legacy in Shelton
As the fourth anniversary of the sawmill’s opening approaches, the mill is set to its capacity of the mill is 500 million board
feet a year.
Logging and Veterans
Isaiah Shaw of Shaw Bro’s Logging and Land Clearing has a vision — a combination of his life-long love of working in the woods and his passion for helping employ fellow veterans.
Emergent Technologies Column
Artificial intelligence and virtual reality technology found in the forest.
Purchasing Considerations when Buying New Equipment
For even the most seasoned loggers, selecting the right machine can be a daunting process, as they weigh their needs and options to pick the best solution for their business.
2020/21 Buyer’s Guide
Complete directory to products, manufacturers, distributors and services.
Think strategically to reach your goals on social media.