New Zealand Logger - - Contents -

As a brand, Ko­belco has tended to op­er­ate un­der the radar in forestry, but the in­tro­duc­tion of the gen­er­a­tion 10 mod­els could change that. The new Ko­belco SK300LC-10, op­er­ated by Stubbs Con­tract­ing in its road lin­ing crew in Gis­borne, has much to com­mend it.

THIS NEW KO­BELCO LOADER IS PROV­ING TO BE A REAL live wire, es­pe­cially with its live heel. Work­ing in one of Robert Stubbs Con­tract­ing crews out of Gis­borne, it has been show­cas­ing some typ­i­cal Kiwi num­ber 8 wire think­ing with that handy at­tach­ment.

Who’d have thought that a live heel could be used to cre­ate a brand new track in the bush in­stead of dig­ging it out with a bucket? Move a bit of dirt, yes, but not a whole damn track’s worth. That’s ex­actly what this ma­chine achieved just prior to the ar­rival of the NZ Log­ger Iron Test team at the Stubbs work site in the Whar­erata For­est to sam­ple the new­comer.

Yet an­other ex­am­ple of how use­ful a live heel can be in the right cir­cum­stances. More on that shortly.

Let’s start with the ma­chine it’s at­tached to, which is the first of the re­cently in­tro­duced gen­er­a­tion 10 Ko­belco SK-series ex­ca­va­tors to go to work in the for­est in New Zealand.

This par­tic­u­lar model, a 34-tonne SK300LC, is set up for forestry at the fac­tory with a stan­dard high and wide base, which was an­other good rea­son for NZ Log­ger to drop in for a closer look – just add guard­ing and your im­ple­ment of choice and it’s ready to go to work.

As a brand, Ko­belco has tended to fly un­der the radar in the for­est un­til re­cently, when Juken NZ de­cided to run with some of the big­ger mod­els for its pre­vi­ous com­pany-owned crews on the East Coast. They cer­tainly made in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors sit up and take no­tice.

And with the ar­rival of the new­est gen­er­a­tion Ko­belco, in­ter­est con­tin­ues to grow.

For Robert Stubbs, who runs a cou­ple of har­vest­ing crews and a road lin­ing oper­a­tion, it wasn’t so much a leap of faith, but more about hav­ing faith in the ad­vice of the lo­cal MIMICO ser­vice agent who also works on many of the ma­chines in his crews – MIMICO is the New Zealand agent for Ko­belco.

Robert has been a Cat cus­tomer for much of his time in the for­est. Still is. But he isn’t afraid to look over the fence and see what else is avail­able that might be suit­able for spe­cific tasks, pro­vided the price is right. That’s why you’ll find other in­ter­est­ing ma­chines scat­tered across his op­er­a­tions.

When the road lin­ing job came up in the Whar­erata For­est, he knew there would be a lot of shov­el­ling in­volved, which dic­tated the need for a live heel. Now, you’re ei­ther a live heel fan or you’re not – no half­way mea­sures. Robert is in the for­mer group. He thinks they are an ex­tremely use­ful tool and has al­ways had one fit­ted to a ma­chine when un­der­tak­ing road lin­ing over the years.

“It makes a lot of sense, not just for shov­el­ling stems on hill­sides, but for do­ing the odd bit of blade work – you don’t want keep stop­ping to change over ev­ery time you need to move a bit of dirt,” he says.

For the Whar­erata job, Robert wanted a new ma­chine in the 30-tonne range set up specif­i­cally for shov­el­ling and it had to be

equipped with a live heel.

That’s when his lo­cal ser­vice tech­ni­cian, Benny Fog­a­rty, came into the pic­ture. Be­ing the MIMICO Ser­vice Agent for Gis­borne, Benny men­tioned the ar­rival of the new Ko­belco gen­er­a­tion 10 mod­els to Robert as a pos­si­bil­ity for the task.

“The fact they came out of the fac­tory with a high and wide for the for­est in­ter­ested me, so we though we’d give it a go,” Robert adds.

“And I’ve got to say we’ve been im­pressed. It has plenty of power, good slew, good walk and the reach is just what we wanted with the live heel set-up. I’ve driven it and I like it. Some ma­chines can feel a bit jerky be­cause they are so light in the con­trols, this one isn’t jerky at all.”

To look at, you might be hard-pressed to spot the changes in Robert’s new Ko­belco SK300LC-10 when com­pared to the ear­lier gen­er­a­tion model – they look pretty much the same, with only a few mi­nor ex­te­rior changes, apart from the ob­vi­ous high and wide base (the SK260LC and SK350LC also come with the fac­tory high and wide).

Much of the new stuff is on the in­side.

It runs the lat­est ver­sion of the 7.7-litre Hino J08ETM-KSDQ 6-cylin­der en­gine that now puts out 185kW (250hp) of power at 2,100rpm and 998Nm of torque peak­ing at 1,600 rpm, thanks to im­proved elec­tronic soft­ware. Whilst the power and torque peak higher in the rev range than many of the SK300LC-10’s com­peti­tors, it doesn’t seem to af­fect the way the Ko­belco per­forms its du­ties.

And with win­ter now upon us, Ko­belco has also come up with a way to pre­vent con­den­sa­tion that can form within the fuel tank from get­ting into the en­gine, due to cold overnight tem­per­a­tures. There’s a new pre-fil­ter sys­tem with built-in wa­ter sep­a­ra­tor that has 1.6 times more fil­ter area than pre­vi­ously, elim­i­nat­ing for­eign par­ti­cles and stop­ping wa­ter from en­ter­ing the fuel sys­tem.

Good fuel con­sump­tion has al­ways been a fea­ture of the pre­vi­ous Ko­belco ma­chines work­ing in the for­est and the new one is reck­oned to be bet­ter again thanks to a com­bi­na­tion of var­i­ous fac­tors.

Com­pared to SK series-8 ma­chines do­ing the same work­load, fuel con­sump­tion is about 16% lower in H-mode, 14% in S-mode and 19% in ECO-mode. So there’s a good op­por­tu­nity for an ex­pe­ri­enced op­er­a­tor to make some sav­ings with­out af­fect­ing the work rou­tine.

An­other change sees a new travel mo­tor used, which boosts trac­tion force by 10%. The pump pri­or­ity sys­tem al­lows it to move, lift and swing si­mul­ta­ne­ously with­out los­ing power, and the new Au­to­matic Swing Pri­or­ity sys­tem de­liv­ers full swing power dur­ing com­bined op­er­a­tions with­out switch­ing modes – as high­lighted by the swing speed, which is a very im­pres­sive 10.3rpm.

A key com­po­nent to the SK300LC-10’s im­proved ef­fi­ciency is pri­mar­ily a re­sult of the Arm In­ter­flow Sys­tem, which is an hy­draulic re­gen­er­a­tive sys­tem that uses the boom’s weight to force hy­draulic fluid to the arm.

This elim­i­nates the need for fluid to be ar­ti­fi­cially forced from the pump, low­er­ing the work­load of the en­gine and hy­draulics.

All-in-all, some nice fea­tures that we can put to the test and see just how ef­fec­tive they are in this new model.

Ar­riv­ing in the Whar­erata For­est on a warm, dry day (rare for the time of year in this lo­ca­tion), the Stubbs crew is just a short dis­tance in from the main road that runs be­tween Gis­borne and Napier.

This is a purely ground base oper­a­tion, no need for a swing yarder or Har­vest­line-style yoader to as­sist with re­cov­er­ing felled trees from any of the steeper sec­tions, as they are all ac­ces­si­ble from the new tracks cre­ated by the crew.

Our first glimpse of the SK300LC-10 in action is of the ma­chine com­plet­ing the fin­ish­ing touches to a long track down from the skid site to pro­vide bet­ter ac­cess to stems at the bot­tom of a gully. The skid­der driver had been find­ing it dif­fi­cult us­ing the ex­ist­ing twisty track so Ko­belco op­er­a­tor, Bob Mear, vol­un­teered to cre­ate bet­ter ac­cess. All with­out hav­ing to re­sort to a half-hour break to swap from the grap­ple and live heel to a bucket.

Iron Tester, Sam Keefe, and I walk the old track down into the gully to wit­ness Bob putting the fin­ish­ing touches to his handy­work with the blade of the heel.

Ensign built and in­stalled this par­tic­u­lar live heel in con­junc­tion with one of its stan­dard 1730-series grap­ples and, as al­ways with the Ro­torua com­pany’s prod­ucts, it’s a nice piece of en­gi­neer­ing, dove­tail­ing into the ex­ist­ing bucket link­ages and mak­ing use of the Ko­belco’s over/over pis­ton lay­out to op­er­ate the heel.

When Bob just wants to use the grap­ple on its own, the pis­ton on top of the stick draws the heel out of the way so that it doesn’t im­pede the oper­a­tion. A flick of the con­trol on his right joy­stick (where the bucket oper­a­tion would nor­mally be found) brings the heel into use for bal­anc­ing those long stems when he’s in shov­el­ling mode. And for blad­ing work, Bob can push the heel up into the jaws of the grap­ple, close them up to hold it tight and, hey presto, he’s got a makeshift dig­ging im­ple­ment.

The bot­tom of the blade is straight, with a ser­rated edge that not only as­sists when grap­pling stems by hold­ing the wood tighter dur­ing shov­el­ling, but also works well for cut­ting into the sur­face of the ground for blad­ing.

Bob is putting the heel to good use as he pushes and pulls dirt from the track to ex­tend it down to where a num­ber of stems are lay­ing on the ground. Who needs a bucket?

It’s ob­vi­ous he has done this many times in the past be­cause he doesn’t muck around. In be­tween bunch­ing stems into piles and mov­ing waste wood out of the way, he pushes more dirt off the track and cre­ates a smooth sur­face for the skid­der with­out any break in pace. Good blade oper­a­tion is what you would ex­pect of a wellde­signed and en­gi­neered ex­ca­va­tor and this one seems to de­liver on that score.

Af­ter Bob com­pletes this task, he closes the ma­chine down and we join him next to the live heel to com­ple­ment him on his dex­ter­ity.

Bob con­firms that he’s had a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with live heels since he ar­rived in Gis­borne from Toko­roa a few years back.

“There is a lot of call for them up here,” he says. “I use the live heel all the time, shov­el­ling and get­ting my­self around places, cre­at­ing tracks like this.

“The beauty of do­ing the track with the heel is that I don’t have to stop and change to a bucket – I might only use it for five min­utes, but it means I’ve got a whole face of wood avail­able to me im­me­di­ately. I could lose half-an-hour or more go­ing up to swap over to a bucket.”

Bob and Sam agree that live heels seem to be much more pop­u­lar in Gis­borne, com­pared to other re­gions, yet there is no spe­cial rea­son why that should be. Some­times it just comes down to proper train­ing for the op­er­a­tor in how to use a live heel for best ad­van­tage. For shov­el­ling, a live heel al­lows the op­er­a­tor to speed up the process, so more stems can be han­dled per shift, and there is gen­er­ally less dam­age caused – when used in the right way.

Be­ing able to do some track work in a road lin­ing oper­a­tion is just a bonus.

“They are very good once you get used to them,” says Bob.

“I find I use it for reach and lift­ing those 50 tonne trail­ers, be­cause you can just bring it out a lit­tle bit and grab the trailer and lift them no sweat. If you have it hang­ing right down you run out of lift.”

The con­ver­sa­tion turns to the ma­chine it­self and Bob tells us it’s the first Ko­belco he has op­er­ated, hav­ing come out of a Cat 325DFM loader (no live heel at­tached), which has gone into an­other of the Stubbs crews.

He goes on to say: “I quite like it now – I was a bit spoiled with the Cat, but this one is re­ally good eh. They’re very good on fuel – I can do a 12-hour day and there is still a quar­ter of a tank in there. That’s not bad. I only work that long when I need to, when weather in­ter­rupts and jobs need do­ing.”

When asked which op­er­at­ing modes Bob uses, he adds: “It de­pends on what I’m do­ing. I’ll go to low mode if I’m on steep coun­try but if I’m on the flat I’ll use the high set­ting with the revs turned down and that gives you more power.”

And, like his boss, Bob is also im­pressed with the slew and drive power, es­pe­cially when head­ing up a steep hill and also where ground con­di­tions are par­tic­u­larly heavy, thanks to the 260kN of draw­bar pull.

“You get more drive go­ing up steep places when it’s in low,” Bob


While we’re down here by the big stems it’s a good op­por­tu­nity for Sam to test out the slew power and live heel by shov­el­ling some of the wood still ly­ing out of reach of the skid­der to a more ac­ces­si­ble spot. Af­ter a quick brief­ing on the con­trols, Sam climbs into the cab and gets busy mov­ing and then bunch­ing the stems next to the newly cre­ated track, tak­ing full ad­van­tage of the Au­to­matic Swing Pri­or­ity sys­tem when ma­noeu­vring some of the re­ally big wood.

Although it has been dry to­day, this area was hit with a lot of rain re­cently and the ground cuts up eas­ily, but the Ko­belco’s dou­ble grousers on longer and wider tracks, com­pared to the stan­dard model, pro­vides plenty of trac­tion and there is good sta­bil­ity when Sam gets hold of a heav­ier stem.

He doesn’t have to worry about the stumps, rocks and mounds of dirt that lit­ter the ground here be­cause the SK300LC-10 has a gen­er­ous ground clear­ance of 785mm. That’s as good as any pur­pose-built ma­chine we’ve sam­pled re­cently.

And if the base does come into con­tact with any­thing big­ger, the belly is re­in­forced, as part

of a pro­gramme to make the gen­er­a­tion 10 ma­chines with­stand the rigours of harsh treat­ment in the bush.

The beefed-up crawlers fea­ture full track guides to elim­i­nate de-track­ing con­cerns, a re­in­forced guide frame built to with­stand heavy im­pact and large, dou­ble-sup­port, outer-flanged up­per rollers un­fazed by pow­er­ful vi­bra­tions.

Ko­belco also says that the boom and arm have been fur­ther strength­ened, with an in­creased and im­proved boom foot cross­sec­tion, along with new heavy-duty joints, for longer life.

We want to get a closer look at some of these, and other im­prove­ments, so when Sam has fin­ished shov­el­ling, it’s time to take the SK300LC-10 back up Bob’s newly cre­ated track to the skid site.

Once on the skid site, Bob takes a smoko break while Sam and I crawl over the SK300LC-10, us­ing the re­designed and roomy walk­way

up to ac­cess the en­gine through the top hatch. There’s more space mov­ing through the steps and walk­way be­cause Ko­belco has shifted the fuel tank on the SK300LC-10 and it now sits fur­ther down.

Fur­ther­more, this has also al­lowed Ko­belco to im­prove the up­per deck lay­out, pro­vid­ing a large flat space for the tech­ni­cian to place a tool­box with­out it en­croach­ing on work space. The hinged hatch to the en­gine isn’t very large, so to im­prove ac­cess the sur­round­ing pan­els can be un­bolted to al­low the techie to get to all parts of the en­gine and trans­mis­sion. Reg­u­lar main­te­nance items, such as fil­ters, are ac­cessed through the side pan­els from the ground. There’s a new com­pact and eas­ily re­place­able can­is­ter-type hy­draulic oil re­turn fil­ter and a new re­in­forced air-cleaner el­e­ment.

Ko­belco has de­signed an in­di­rect flow cool­ing sys­tem, dubbed the iNDR, for use in ex­ces­sively dusty lo­ca­tions, but it was de­cided that the stan­dard sys­tem could eas­ily cope with con­di­tions in the Gis­borne forests, so long as the op­er­a­tor keeps an eye on the ra­di­a­tor fins and the air-cleaner el­e­ment.

Fi­nally, to the stan­dard ROPS/FOPS cab, which still needed to re­ceive more pro­tec­tion be­fore it headed out into the for­est. So Robert com­mis­sioned Ro­torua’s Ac­tive VMA to fab­ri­cate the cage around the work­ing area, con­sist­ing of front screen and side guard­ing rails, roof pro­tec­tion, and the beefy steel rails around the top perime­ter of the en­gine com­part­ment.

From the op­er­a­tor’s seat the guard­ing does re­mind you that you’re not in a pur­pose-built cab, which would nor­mally fea­ture Mar­guard glass, but Bob says the vi­sion is still quite good through the bars and he doesn’t think about them now.

The fac­tory-de­signed and built cab is mod­ern, well trimmed, com­fort­able and still very light and airy even with the steel cage around it, due to the ex­pan­sive use of glass on all sides. And AC­TIVE VMA also in­cor­po­rated a line of four lights into the top of the guard­ing frame above the front screen, so there’s much more for­ward light than on a stan­dard ma­chine. A cou­ple more lights half­way up the boom and an­other built into the guard­ing next to the steps on the right of the ma­chine sup­ple­ment the night vi­sion.

A by-prod­uct of the re­design of the walk­way up to the bon­net on the right-hand side is that it also im­proves the op­er­a­tor’s view in this area.

A fur­ther vis­ual aid for the op­er­a­tor is the in­stal­la­tion of a rear­fac­ing cam­era on top of the coun­ter­weight that pro­vides a nice view of the area be­hind the ma­chine on the new LCD dis­play mon­i­tor fit­ted to the front-right pil­lar in the cab. The op­er­a­tor can also dial up a range of in­for­ma­tion, from fuel burn to when the next ser­vice is due on the mon­i­tor. This in­for­ma­tion is also avail­able to Robert Stubbs and his team in their of­fice in Gis­borne city via the Geoscan Ex­ca­va­tor Re­mote Mon­i­tor­ing Sys­tem so they can see how the Ko­belco is work­ing when they choose.

One in­ter­est­ing as­pect of this sys­tem is that it can be set up with a geo fence around the ma­chine to alert the op­er­a­tor if he goes out­side a cer­tain bound­ary, which would be ideal for keep­ing Bob and the SK300LC-10 away from any known danger zones when he’s out shov­el­ling or mak­ing one of those im­promptu tracks.

Among changes that have taken place in the cab is a new air­con­di­tion­ing sys­tem, with im­proved venting be­hind the op­er­a­tor that pro­vides a more pow­er­ful air­flow around the in­te­rior to com­pen­sate for the hot sum­mers in the Gis­borne re­gion.

The seat is now air-sus­pended and also has a heat func­tion so that Bob can get warm through the seat of his pants on cold win­ter morn­ing starts.

Ko­belco has also de­signed new light-touch con­trol levers, which it says are smoother and less tir­ing to use, re­quir­ing 38% less ef­fort – prob­a­bly more no­tice­able if used in a dig­ging oper­a­tion in con­struc­tion and road-build­ing work, than for load­ing and shov­el­ling, but still very wel­come for any op­er­a­tor.

I’ll leave Sam to de­scribe the con­trols and cab en­vi­ron­ment in greater de­tail in his Iron Test col­umn on page 36.

With the main in­spec­tion com­pleted Sam is now given the op­por­tu­nity to test the fleet­ing and stack­ing abil­i­ties of the new SK300LC-10 to­wards the back of the skid site.

To the right of this area is where the skid­der drops the stems that are dragged up the new track Bob cre­ated. Sam uses the live heel and grap­ple to ma­noeu­vre these away from the main thor­ough­fare un­til they can be pro­cessed. Some are quite large, in ex­cess of four tonnes, but they don’t seem to bother the Ko­belco, thanks to the com­bi­na­tion of good hy­draulic set-up. No rock­ing on its tracks, ei­ther.

Should heav­ier stems ar­rive on the skid, the op­er­a­tor can se­lect a spe­cial heavy lift mode, a first on this ma­chine. This works by de­creas­ing the flow and rais­ing the pres­sure, to make lift­ing heav­ier ob­jects eas­ier whilst pro­vid­ing finer con­trol of the pro­ce­dure – handy for lift­ing big 5-axles trail­ers off the back of a truck.

In be­tween mov­ing the stems to one side, Sam sorts the pro­cessed logs into their var­i­ous stacks, oc­ca­sion­ally stay­ing fixed to the spot and try­ing out the reach, which is around the 11-me­tre mark with the live heel. At max­i­mum reach, he can still pick up a grap­ple-full of logs weigh­ing in ex­cess of 4 tonnes.

With day’s end rapidly ap­proach­ing, we hand the Ko­belco back to Bob to fin­ish the rest of the fleet­ing du­ties, sat­is­fied that his boss has pur­chased a ma­chine that can han­dle all the work asked of it – and some tasks that might not be fully ap­par­ent when you see it fit­ted with a live heel. We cer­tainly dig this Ko­belco.

Fac­ing page: Up­graded hy­draulics de­liver a very speedy slew on the new Ko­belco SK300LC-10.

Above left: With the blade of the heel tucked into the grap­ple, Bob Mear, has a handy tool for mov­ing dirt.

Above right: This track was con­structed com­pletely with the live heel blade.

The Ko­belco comes straight from the fac­tory with a high and wide base – the rear-fac­ing cam­era sat up on the coun­ter­weight is stan­dard.

For pick­ing up ex­tra-heavy stems and also lift­ing trail­ers off log trucks, the Ko­belco SK300LC-10 has a spe­cial heavy lift mode that in­creases pres­sure in the boom and arm pis­tons.

The live heel comes in just has handy for mov­ing large stems to one side on the skid site.

Above left: Good ac­cess to the top of the en­gine through the hatch. The sur­round­ing pan­els can eas­ily be un­bolted if re­quired.

Above right: Ac­cess to the cool­ing sys­tem and fil­ter is through the left-hand side panel.

Left: The re­designed walk­way pro­vides more room for get­ting up onto the top deck.

Right: This is the first Ko­belco for reg­u­lar op­er­a­tor, Bob Mear.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.