Mitch Jamieson, owner of Atlantic Tree Solutions, based in Truro, Nova Scotia, thought he needed a grapple saw added to his arborist tool kit.
It was in conversation with Jason Monk with M-C Power Equipment, also located in the Truro area, that he was introduced to the Nisula 205E energy wood harvesting head.
“I had the idea to attach a grapple saw to the boom of my truck-mounted Hiab material loader,” explained Jamieson. “The loader has about 40-feet of reach and I envisioned grappling limbs on trees, functioning the saw, and controlling the severed limb or trunk section to the ground safely.
“I discussed my idea with Jason at M-C Power, and he cautioned that grapple saws have a high risk of bending bars, and a high demand for hydraulic oil flow.”
Monk brought Jamieson’s attention to the Nisula 205 as an alternative, and after some study, Jamieson agreed to purchase the head and an order was made to the Nisula factory in Finland (please see sidebar story on Nisula Forest Oy on page 7).
As the deal for the Nisula head was completed, Nisula agreed to air freight the head to Montreal and deliver it ‘just in time’ to the M-C Power booth at the 2022 Atlantic Heavy Equipment Show in Moncton this past April.
Nisula energy wood harvesting heads are designed for harvesting small trees which are directed to wood energy installations, common in Europe. The heads consist of a set of two grapple/accumulating arms which close pull the tree stems against a sharp shear plate to sever them. The stems remain secure in the grapple until they are released into a pile.
Nisula offers seven models of energy wood heads with capacity to handle trees from 3.5” up to 10” in diameter. The weight of the heads range from 115 lbs. to 1,300 lbs. Recommended base machine carriers range from tractors/ATVs, mini excavators on the small side to forwarders and excavators in the twelve-tonne class.
Wood biomass from harvest and thinning operations are directed to energy plants which produce steam for electric energy production and steam for heating buildings. Energy wood is also directed to bio-refineries to produce bio-fuels for transportation uses. In Europe, energy wood reduces dependence on foreign fossil fuels.
Jamieson’s 205E model lands in the middle of Nisula’s model range, weighing 650 lbs. and handling up to an 8” diameter.
To hang the head on the Hiab material handling loader, M-C Power fabricated an adapter plate to bolt the head to the Hiab mounting.
The 205E functions by closing the grapple arms on a stem or limb, and holding the pressure on to activate a valve which tilts the head so the grapple arms face vertically down to the ground, as in the ‘piling’ position. As the grapple arms are opened to drop stems on the pile, and the control valve held open, the head tilts back up so grapple arms are parallel to the ground and in position to grapple and shear a standing stem.
The valves which function the head are adjustable so that the operator can control or limit the tilt, so that the head can be manipulated to grapple the cut horizontal limbs, and manipulate them to piles.
The Nisula hooked up to the Hiab with one set of hoses for rotation of the head and a second set to operate grapple/tilt.
“When we initially went to work with it, we did not have sufficient oil flow to function the grapple/tilt properly,” said Jamieson. “We could cut off a limb but often the grapple arms would lose grip power. As a construction material handler, the oil flow to the fork tilt function was low, so the operator can articulate tilt slowly and carefully, and avoid damage to the product and the property where it was landed. After a lot of trial and error, M-C Power figured it out and made modifications to the spool valve and achieved the required oil flow.”
Jamieson put the Nisula to work doing tree surgery, reaching into tree crowns up to 40’ to amputate infected or damaged limbs. The Nisula is also useful as a straight grapple to load stems and limbs on trucks, to remove them from a customers’ property.
In addition to the Nisula-equipped truck, Atlantic Tree Solutions’ machine fleet includes a one-ton bucket truck, an Avant 528 mini articulated loader with grapple and mulcher head and a Sany 6-tonne excavator equipped with a Nisula 205E. The Sany is rubber tracked and will be utilized to work in tight yards to do tree work.
The Nisula head went to work on Atlantic Tree Solutions work sites in June, and became a very valuable and versatile tool in the toolbox. Atlantic Tree Solution’s typical operating zone is within an hour’s travel of their base in Truro. One exception is a winter contract for tree maintenance in Metro Halifax.
In September, Hurricane Fiona roared through the Maritime provinces and proceeded across the Gulf of St. Lawrence, delivering devastation to Newfoundland and Labrador. The storm caused severe damage to property and services. Downed trees and wind cut power to customers, some for more than two weeks.
Atlantic Tree Solutions, like many other trees service companies, were recruited to provide emergency services in Nova Scotia.
“Initially, we were focusing on clearing trees from streets to allow emergency services to get mobile and to assist electric power crews to repair service. Following that, we were directed to the emergency needs of home owners and businesses to remove trees impacting them. I expect that we will be continuing to address those emergency removals into March or April 2023,” said Jamieson. “I expect there will be lots of work in the coming few years as result of Fiona damage to trees.”
In late November, the Nisula energy wood head was the tool of choice to handle a large maple tree filling a front yard and laying against a house on Queen Street in Truro. A significant portion of the crown was laying against the side of the house and complicating the ability to fix damage caused by Fiona.
The large crown was in a precarious position and had very real potential to roll as it was limbed, jamming chainsaws, rolling on saw operators or rolling on the house, causing additional damage.
With the Nisula, Jamieson carefully reached across the crown of the tree and strategically grappled and cut the limbs and placed them in a corner of the yard. The head comfortably sheared limbs up to 6” in diameter.
As limbs were cut and the main stem became visible, Jamieson was able to lift and stabilize the trunk, and chainsaws were able to get in to cut off sections of the trunk. As processing continued, the Nisula was carefully maneuvered to grapple, and carefully lift large limbs off the house without any damage.
“The Nisula is my ultimate tool,” said Jamieson. “It is fun to work with, it improves our efficiency, it allows workers to work more safely, and it sets us apart from other companies. The Nisula can turn a conventional three to four-hour job into a twenty-minute job. We are the first tree company east of Quebec to have a mechanized grapple tool to handle arborist work.
“If we did not have the Nisula, the job on Queen Street would probably require a boom truck, and putting chainsaw operators in there to make a hundred cuts to handle the tree. Chainsaws working on downed trees offers a multitude of risks for injury—risks we would rather not take.”
Jamieson commented that the success with the Nisula has been a direct result of the support he gets from M-C Power. “M-C Power has the technical expertise to build and service equipment we rely on to make our business work, and be both efficient and profitable. They are one of our most important business partners.”
Nisula Forest is looking to grow its dealership network.
“We are looking to expand our market territory all over North America,” says Timo Savornin, Sales and Marketing Director at Nisula Forest.
“At Nisula Forest, customers come first and we always offer top notch customer service,” he says. “That’s the reason why we always choose great dealers that have a close relationship with their customers.”
In addition to M-C Power in New Brunswick, its other dealers include Top Down Enterprises Inc. of Kamloops, B.C., and Équipement JYL Inc. of Chicoutimi, Quebec.
Nisula Brothers moved from logging to producing harvesting equipment
Finnish company Nisula Forest Oy started in 1978 as a harvest contracting business owned by Seppo and Ali Nisula. The brothers built their first forwarder in 1978, and that initial venture put them on track to become designers and manufacturers of forest harvesting equipment.
They built a double-grip processor in 1981 and their first single grip in 1984. In 1986, they designed and built the first HN125 crane for Ponsse, and later designed and built the H53 and H73 single grip heads for Ponsse.
Around 2000, they helped develop equipment for Partek/Valmet (prior to assimilation into Komatsu Forestry). In 2005, they began manufacturing and distributing harvester heads under the Nisula brand. Currently, they export products to 24 countries around the world. Nisula also continues to serve domestic customers modifying forwarders to be combi harvesters (harvest and forward with one machine), as well as modifying tractors and excavators to handle forest thinning/harvesting, adhering to their goal to develop cost effective and productive machines that provide low operating costs for their customers.