Au­tomat­ing ca­ble yarder sky­line shift­ing

New Zealand Logger - - Forestry Innovations -

ANEW SKY­LINE CAR­RIAGE THAT AL­LOWS A YARDER OP­ER­A­TOR to per­form a sky­line shift in a mat­ter of sec­onds from the com­fort of his cab is in an ad­vanced phase of devel­op­ment. A prototype of the car­riage has al­ready been constructed by Gis­borne-based Aw­don Tech­nolo­gies Ltd and re­cently per­formed in-for­est demos in the North Is­land, but it re­quires fur­ther re­fine­ment be­fore go­ing into pro­duc­tion.

The Skyshifter Twin Winch Tail Hold Car­riage is another prod­uct of the Steep­land Har­vest­ing pro­gramme de­vised by the for­mer Fu­ture For­est Re­search or­gan­i­sa­tion, now re­named For­est Grow­ers Re­search (FGR), and backed by the gov­ern­ment’s Pri­mary Growth Part­ner­ship (PGP) fund.

Shift­ing the sky­line is a time con­sum­ing, dif­fi­cult and po­ten­tially haz­ardous task, but with the Skyshifter, it can be sim­ply un­der­taken re­motely from the yarder cab.

Don Scott, of Aw­don Tech­nolo­gies, has spent much of the past year de­vel­op­ing the Skyshifter, among other projects. Don spoke to a group of farm foresters at a demon­stra­tion or­gan­ised by FGR in April, say­ing: “The idea be­hind it is that when you are grap­pling you need to move side­ways to grab the wood.

“How it works is that it’s got two winches in a box, with each winch line go­ing to a stump (tail hold), so then it can pull the sky­line across by up to 60 me­tres. Ul­ti­mately, I’d like to get it so that it can do 100 me­tres or even 150 me­tres and to move even faster than it does now – cur­rently it takes 40 sec­onds to move 10 me­tres, which is still pretty good.

“This one is just a prototype and the next one I build will be dif­fer­ent and a lot more ex­cit­ing and less heavy.”

The prototype cur­rently weighs around 3.5 tonnes, in­clud­ing the small en­gine to power the winches, plus all the rope on board.

Spencer Hill, FGR project leader for the Skyshifter devel­op­ment, says: “This is about be­ing able to set up and log for two or three days with­out any­one near the sky­line.”

With the yarder up to 600 me­tres away and the Skyshifter sus­pended be­tween the sky­line and the two winch lines to a pair of tail hold spars, it is sus­pended off the ground. This en­ables the yarder op­er­a­tor to work within a large tri­an­gle, grap­pling logs over a huge area be­fore mov­ing to a com­pletely new po­si­tion. Max­i­mum pull on the sky­line is lim­ited to around 10 tonnes.

Spencer says: “Be­cause when you are grap­pling there will be no one near it for two days, in the­ory you can log a two-shift sce­nario, so it opens up the op­por­tu­nity for ex­tended shifts, or night op­er­a­tion.”

While the Skyshifter has been field tested in a hauler op­er­a­tion since it was built, FGR says the next step is to put it through its paces in real pro­duc­tion tri­als over a longer pe­riod of time and FGR is cur­rently look­ing for a suit­able crew to take up the chal­lenge.


The Skyshifter Twin Winch Tail Hold Car­riage built by Aw­don Tech­nolo­gies.

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