First ‘new’ Falcon yarder launched
THE FALCON 171 THAT HAS JUST GONE TO WORK IN THE LOWER North Island for Moutere Logging is the prototype of a new line of yarders that will be produced by Nelson-based DC Equipment.
While this particular Falcon hauler has been re-built from an existing Madill 171, future models will likely be all new, as the supply of donor equipment dwindles.
DC Equipment has been looking to build its own line of tower haulers and swing yarders for some time, supplementing its growing range of forestry hardware that now includes the Falcon winch-assist system, Falcon Claw grapple carriages, Falcon harvesting cameras and the soon-to-be-released Falcon felling carriage.
“Contractors in New Zealand have been re-building haulers and yarders for years, but there comes a time when it just isn’t feasible to do that anymore,” says Dale Ewers, owner of DC Equipment.
He says the company has the ability to construct a complete new tower hauler or swing yarder from scratch and the latest Falcon 171 is a progression along that route.
The re-built hauler has been fitted with cutting-edge automation and diagnostic technology to make wood recovery safer and more efficient.
The Madill 171 was one of the most popular haulers in New Zealand and provided DC Equipment with a great base machine to improve upon. The original 171 was designed as a self-propelled, track-mounted hauler, with 5 drums, a telescoping tower built onto an M4A3 armysurplus base and powered by a Cummins engine.
Dale says operators need to be on point at all times to be productive and safe, which could lead to fatigue and increased risk for operators to bump the wrong lever and potentially cause unwanted incidents on the slope.
To reduce those risks, the experienced DC Equipment team set about updating the hauler, replacing the tracks with heavy-duty Hitachi EX450 tracks, a new John Deere 13.5-litre common rail diesel engine, electronically-controlled Allison transmission and a brand-new DC-designed cab.
Simplifying the controls in the cab were a major focus of the team, headed by DC’s tech guru Shaun Mills, and they replaced the oldschool air lever controls with modern joysticks and a computerised system.
This new control system allows DC to data log everything, enabling the team to record accurate data and once analysed, to make improvements to processes and potentially automate functions to lighten the load of the operator. The ability to analyse this part of the operation in such detail is something they have been unable to do previously.
“With these improvements, the operator has much more control, with less input and makes it a safer platform to operate. This is in line with our intentions to harvest the tree by the push of the button and then onto logging from afar,” says Shaun.
“The logging industry is pushed by safety and with this new system, we can analyse everything from the speed and direction of the drums to the tonnage being hauled and so on,” he says.
“The whole system is using cutting-edge control components and has cloud-based server capability for future development. It could be the most advanced hauler in New Zealand.”
The introduction of the computerised system is aimed at reducing driver fatigue, says Shaun, adding: “If you imagine a typical day for a hauler operator, they just don’t stop.
“Eventually we will be able to automate parts of the process, reducing the number of inputs the hauler operator needs to know and reducing the chance of mistakes being made. We want to make it simpler for the operator to do the job and reduce fatigue, which in turn will make for a safer, more productive extraction process”.
The new Falcon 171 is currently carrying out standard functions, but it is seen essentially being a stepping stone for further advancements.
The new Falcon 171 is a prototype of the hauler of the future.