YarderFOCUS on Yarders PART TWO

By Andrea Watts

In the July/August 2022 issue, we invited two manufacturers to share their approach to designing the new yarders that are now available. In Part II we invited two more companies to share their approach to designing yarders that meet today’s industry needs.


Kelso, Washington

Products available – Harvestline mobile yarder with Hawkeye hydraulic grapple carriage

What yarder system is available through Technical Forest Solutions?

The Harvestline yarder is a two-drum interlocked hydraulic yarder purpose-built for grapple yarding, and the winch set also has an interlock disengage so it can be used for gravity logging as well. The yarder was designed in conjunction with the Hawkeye motorized hydraulic grapple, and they share the same control screen to reduce additional displays in the cab.

How does the Harvestline yarder improve workflow?

It improves workflow in several ways. The Harvestline system is mounted on an excavator base, which enables the operator to take the yarder off road to move the lines to the wood or get better lift. It’s also possible to work off the side of the tracks; an operator can move a few feet to get the end of a log and move right back to the road and start logging again within a few seconds without counter rotating the tracks, which reduces road disturbance.

With its interlocked system, the Harvestline has fast cycle times and superior line control. While it’s possible to gravity log with grapples, interlock grapple yarding has proved more efficient. With interlock capability an operator can downhill log or, in some cases, harvest a draw from a single landing. Because of the interlock, an operator can downhill the far side and uphill the landing side all from one skid road. This reduces road changes and road construction.

Since this system doesn’t use guylines, this reduces crew and exposure to the workers hand-notching stumps. A guyline requires additional time and manpower to make a road change. And these days good stumps are also hard to find. Finally, with a grapple yarder, usually only two guys are needed on the landing: a yarder operator and a tail hold operator versus a typical yarding crew of up to six people.

YarderThe Harvestline system.

Can you elaborate on the Hawkeye camera system?

The Hawkeye grapple carriage has three cameras: one looking forward, one looking back, and one looking down. If you only have one camera on your carriage, the single camera is only looking at the ground, and the operator has to go slowly to avoid overshooting the log. The Hawkeye has a camera that’s looking forward so the operator can throw the yarder in third gear and send the carriage out as fast as they want and slow when approaching the log and then switch to the bottom camera for a better view of the grapple. It’s all about shaving seconds off so keeping line speed up will bring in more logs in a day. And with a camera looking up the hill, the operator can also keep the line speed up because he/she can see if the carriage will run into a stump. By not hitting stumps you reduce maintenance on the carriage.

Since the Harvestline mobile yarder was designed for terrain in New Zealand, have there been modifications for Pacific Northwest terrain?

The early versions of Harvestlines used in New Zealand, as well as early models in North America, had interlock-only capabilities; EMS redesigned the Harvestline so it could disengage the interlock because in the Pacific Northwest we have situations where contractors are chasing lift or need to gravity log. Disengaging the interlock and allowing gravity logging essentially creates a standing skyline mode.

Is it possible for contractors to convert an existing piece of machinery into a mobile yarder?

Yes, the Harvestline yarding system is designed to be installed on an excavator-based machine (carrier), so a potential customer can use an existing carrier in their fleet and convert it to a Harvestline.

How have logging contractors reacted to this technology ?

The contractors who have them are loving the system. The system is fast and efficient, and they can use this system in small, short settings as well as big tower ground because the bucket and stick on the front of the machine provide stability so they can pull really hard without having a guyline. If you factor in the mobility, stability, and no guyline, the Harvestline becomes a very versatile tool.

Can you share any planned future improvements?

Down the line, we’re looking at a little higher speed and possibly more compactness to the machine. And of course, electric grapple carriages are being prototyped. Based on customer feedback, we’re also looking at different grapple designs and configurations.


Shelton, Washington

Products available: 180 Swing Yarder

Why did Tigercat decide to enter the yarder market?

Tigercat saw a need in the yarder industry for two reasons: First, cable logging contractors are having a hard time finding yarder operators or the specialized crews required to safely operate a conventional yarder. Second is related to safety. Conventional yarding with chokers or mechanical grapples can be dangerous. There has been a big campaign on the West Coast called Boots off the Ground, which has driven the industry into tethering (steep slope winch assist) and being as mechanized as possible. We looked at developing a fully mechanized high-production yarding system with an operating range up to a couple thousand feet.

What are the features of the 180 Swing Yarder?

It’s a four-drum yarder driven with closed loop hydrostatics, so each drum can be operated independently in either direction. The hydrostatic drive system is far more efficient than a chain drive transmission and much easier to operate. It is also more reliable and uses standard hydraulic components that are easy to source and familiar to service technicians. It’s possible to do downhill as well as uphill yarding.

It has a live hydraulically operated boom so an operator can raise and lower the boom at will when either landing a turn or picking up a turn in the brush. We also integrated a two-piece boom, so the boom can be separated in half to reduce weight in areas where people have weight restrictions.

The 180 has a large footprint, purpose-built undercarriage with a blade stabilizer in the front. Depending on factors such as the amount of deflection, the soil type, stability of the landing, and the yarding distance, a guyline may not be required, which reduces setup time. Tigercat, however, recommends the use of guylines.

We have a large monitor inside the cab connected to a camera on the carriage, so the operators are able to see exactly what they are doing. A second monitor is a split screen showing the views of two cameras. One camera points to the top of the boom to show the sheaves, and the other camera shows the drums at the back of the machine. The yarder has auto return technology and a skyline mapping feature that reduces operator fatigue and reduces turn cycle times.

YarderTigercat 180 Yarder

How has the yarder improved productivity?

The 180 is very productive up to 1,600 feet whereas most yoders and excavator-based yarders are productive up to around 500 feet. With a live skyline, we can independently control the height of the carriage providing more deflection. This is a big advantage over a running skyline swing yarder. The standing skyline also allows the machine to be productive over greater distances when compared with running skyline equipped machines.

Another big advantage of a ground-up purpose-built carrier is that it allows the machine to operate in a tight landing and narrow roads. The backend of the yarder is angled up in such a manner that it can clear the bank on the other side. It’s also very mobile and easy to move from one point to another.

What grapple is paired with the yarder?

Customers have the choice to use whatever motorized grapple carriage they choose. All motorized grapple carriage or drop line carriages can integrate into this yarder.

What has been the reaction to the new yarder?

It’s hard for some of the old-school yarder guys to really wrap their heads around what we are doing with this machine because they’re so used to seeing the conventional machines. Yet the interest at the Oregon Logging Conference was through the roof. It was absolutely phenomenal. We also brought the machine to the Intermountain Logging Conference and had the same reaction at that show.

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