Tech Review - Harvesting and Felling Heads


Caterpillar sells and supports the full line of SATCO processing and directional felling heads. Headquartered in New Zealand, SATCO Ltd. designs and manufactures a wide range of forestry attachments built to handle rugged logging conditions around the world. And all SATCO products are backed by Caterpillar warranties.

Top features of the SAT325 processor include a three-roller head with an optimal delimbing capacity of 3 to 25-inch diameter and a maximum cutting capacity of 31.5 inches. The beefy heads are constructed using high-grade materials with 2.38-3.13 in. roller and delimb arm pins for strength and durability, and the main valves rated at 420 bar (6100 PSI) easily handle carrier pressures. The SATCO-designed heavy-duty 3/4” main saw and Poclain MS11 drive motors are proven to stand up in large-heavy timber applications.

The three feed rollers with four drive motors provide the perfect combination of speed and torque for efficient processing of large timber, and the Tri-Knife System gives the logger the ability to easily center logs in the head when pulling out of a pile. This system also runs the tree true and straight through the head for more efficient delimbing and accurate length measurement. 

John DeereJohn Deere

The most recent addition to the John Deere felling head lineup, the FL100 model, provides customers with a larger, more durable directional felling head solution. The robust, durable design of the FL100 makes it ideal for steep slope, shoveling, and traditional felling applications. Featuring increased grip strength, grapple capacity, and shoveling performance, the grapple arm on the FL100 Felling Head effectively handles both small and extra-large timber. The increased durability of the FL100 reduces potential downtime in tough conditions, while allowing excellent access to maintenance and service points. Factory-installed on the John Deere 959ML Shovel Logger/Directional Feller, the FL100 offers the ideal solution for felling and maneuvering timber in steep slope applications.


Keto offers a range of harvesting heads, from the Keto-Forst for thinning and energy wood harvesting to the Keto-800 series for felling or stack processing large trees and logs. The Keto-825 Supreme harvester head has multi-purpose functionality based on a strong, simple structure. The head can be equipped with a fixed or swing roller system. The head can be mounted on 35-tonne or larger excavators.

It has a felling diameter of 3.3 feet, a delimbing diameter of 2.8 feet, and it weighs in at 6,613 pounds.

Komatsu 144Komatsu C144 Harvesting Head

Komatsu makes advanced high-speed harvesting heads to fit a broad range of work. The C-Series “carry style” consists of the C124, C144, and C164 heads. The C144 weighs 3,109 pounds, is well established in North America, and is optimized for large-diameter thinning and final felling. The head is most productive at diameters from 8 to 20 inches with a maximum cut (theoretical) of 29.5 inches.

The head is highly accurate for length and diameter measurements and features a 40-degree rearward tilt angle to improve downhill reach, four hydraulic feed motors, two upper and lower hydraulic knives, and a fixed top knife. It also has Constant Cut for precise control of saw hydraulic flow, pressure and 40 m/sec chain speed. Options include multi-tree handling, head-mounted lights, stump treatment, and color marking. It also features safe and simple service with centralized lubrication points.

SatcoLog Max

For more than 30 years, Log Max has engineered reliable and productive harvesting and processing heads, giving their customers a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Log Max products can be installed on smaller equipment allowing for decreased total package price and overall fuel savings without compromising performance or uptime. There are many applications in the forestry market from first commercial thinning to final harvesting and processing.

Log Max offers a wide range of products that fit these needs: from the small 928A all the way up to the 12000XT. The Log Max 928A is a small and light head specifically designed for thinning. The compact format makes it the obvious choice for small-sized wheel and track-based harvesters in the 7 to 15 ton range. It features a hydraulically driven saw with pressure controlled sawing force and flow controlled chain speed. The high performance saw hydraulics provide full flow to the bottom saw resulting in fast cutting. This saw unit is able to fell trees up to 16.5 inches.

The Log Max 12000XT is the company’s most rugged head and is available in harvester or processor configurations. With over five tons of delimbing force, this head is able to handle the most severe wood with ease. Large rear cover with hydraulic assist opens for full service access. The high-production ¾” pitch bottom saw cuts up to 40” with ease. Special Log Max designed knives with compound curves and replaceable cutting edges produce clean delimbed wood at a low operating cost.

Pierce PacificPierce

Building on the solid foundation of the Pierce GP (grapple processor), the GP ProSeries has arrived with several significant upgrades and introduces innovative new features that improve reliability and productivity.

The 6,186-pound head has a processing range of 3 to 28 inches, and a max delimbing opening of 28 inches. It features a cutting diameter of 53.5” and hydraulic pressure of 5,075 psi. The recommended carrier size for GP ProSeries is 24-39 MT. New features include improved butt saw retention, increased drive motor protection from limbs and impacts; increased delimbing coverage, enhanced top saw design with twin roller bearings, and higher hydraulic capacity with high-grade seals.


PONSSE H10 is intended for harvesting and processing large-diameter trees. It has been designed and built for heavy-duty processing in demanding conditions. Its solid structure, firm grip and powerful feed guarantee a high efficiency ratio and reliability for years to come.

PONSSE H10 has been made specifically for demanding harvesting conditions. It has also been tested in close cooperation with customers who logged at sites with large diameter tree. No compromises can be made over durability and power in demanding conditions. H10 has been designed with advanced technology and is built to be sufficient and sturdy.

H10 is highly precise. The Opti control system helps to feed the trees quickly and to cut them to the correct length, with an accuracy of nearly one centimeter. correct length even when working at high speeds. It has been developed together with customers. As a result, H10 is highly precise, enjoyable to use and easy to maintain.

Pierce PacificQuadco

Quadco offers a variety of harvesting processing heads, including the Ultimate 5660, which is basically the same as the original 5600, but with a different saw base imported from the 6000 model. The saw has a 24” cutting capacity and develops 60 percent more power.

Quadco also offers the new QB4400. The large capacity fixed felling head is purpose-built to handle the toughest of felling applications. With the large customized slew bearing, three heavy-duty slew motors, and 255 degrees of saw bar rotation, the well-proven QB4400 is the right choice for controlled felling applications with minimal stem breakage.

Thanks to its new High Speed Hydraulics and Quad Tooth, the saw’s fast cutting speed provides high production and quality cuts. The circular saw is more forgiving than bar and chain and is practically trouble-free. Operating benefits also include the capability of cleaning unwanted underbrush to enhance visibility resulting in high production, long tooth life, and low stumps.

In comparison to other systems, the great durability of the teeth, low maintenance time required, and superior availability are the main factors that will reduce the after-investment costs. In normal conditions, maintenance is limited to changing the seven saw bearings annually or every 2,000 hours.


Southstar Equipment, a Canadian company based in Kamloops, British Columbia, offers a full line of 4-roller processors with the QS series — QS500, QS600, and QS650. They also offer a line of grapple processors — the 505, 605, and 635.

The QS series, with their industry leading multi-stemming capabilities, is changing the game in the processing world. This head gives the contractor the best of both worlds. First, when processing in small-diameter tree stands, contractors can see up to a 70 percent increase in production without affecting length quality, and second, when put into the large-diameter tree stands, the robust design with its high feed speeds can handle the toughest processing environments.

Southstar, by partnering with DASA Control systems, provides one of the most advanced control and measuring systems around while still being very operator friendly, with detailed production reports to GPS tagging of wood that can be emailed directly to your home computer from the machine.

Features unique to Southstar include hydraulic traction control for feeding large-diameter trees, side stepping (allowing the operator to independently feed one tree while holding the other when multi-stemming), hose through design (no exposed or hanging hoses from stick to head, extending the life of expensive hoses and less chance of snagging), and a wide frame design for multi-stemming capabilities while giving added strength to the head. Southstar also features an extreme duty ¾ main saw with saw limiting option and a two-year structural warranty.

Pierce PacificTigercat

Tigercat harvesting heads are built to match the high-performance capabilities of Tigercat track and wheel carriers and are well suited to a variety of jobs including at-the-stump harvesting, roadside processing, and debarking.

The Tigercat 568 harvesting head is a robust, high-performance head designed for tracked carriers. It is best suited for roadside processing applications, with trees ranging in size from 6 to 22 inches.

With timed knife arms and triangulated wheel arms, the 568 can quickly pick and maintain positive tree contact and control. The patented 4WD-2WD auto-shift drive system provides extra power and positive grip when feeding large trees, fast speed in smaller trees, and full manual control when needed.

Knife arms feature double-edged, replaceable blades with optimal contour for clean delimbing. The front floating knife, with spring preload, follows the contour of the tree, further enhancing delimbing performance. Single or dual-track length measuring wheels and dual diameter encoders assure superior measuring accuracy.

Other features of the 568 include optional conventional boom or through-tip boom continuous rotation, laser diffuse or through-beam find end sensors, color marking, and various feed wheels.

WaratahWaratah Offers the H423 and the HTH616C Series-III.

The new H423 from Waratah Forestry Equipment is designed to carry out a wide range of harvesting jobs from early to late thinnings and even light regeneration harvesting. With outstanding multi-tree-handling qualities, a compact frame design, and excellent power-to-weight ratio, the H423 masters fast and precise felling and crosscutting. The H423 is well-suited for delimbing stems of all diameters. Its outstanding multi-tree harvesting qualities and excellent power-to-weight ratio take productivity to the next level. Additionally, the H423 boasts a 16.5” tip-to-tip delimbing diameter, providing ample range for superior delimbing. When combined with its 22.8” cutting capacity and optional multi-tree-handling equipment, it is unmatched for productivity in varied-diameter stands.

The HTH616C Series-III features many service and accessibility upgrades as compared to former generations of the HTH616C harvester head. One highlight is a new main control valve designed to increase performance, responsiveness, and compatibility to a greater range of carriers – including WCTL (Wheeled Cut To Length) and smaller, lower-powered carriers having limited flow. Hose routing has been optimized to the new valve, which improves fitting access and provides easier serviceability, while new optional harvesting guards for the main valve, drive arms, and saw box are available to reduce understory hosing interference. A new and improved valve cover provides quick no-tools access with integrated handles and quick-attach pins. A larger oil filler improves the ease of filling bar and chain oil and helps shorten daily servicing.

TimberWest November/December 2013
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