First ‘new’ Fal­con yarder launched

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

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.

NZL

The new Fal­con 171 is a pro­to­type of the hauler of the fu­ture.

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