Sierra For­est Ser­vices puts new Cat ma­chine to work

Australian Forests and Timber - - Forest Machines -

Matthew Stoppa knows that ser­vice and sup­port from a man­u­fac­turer and its deal­ers are crit­i­cal for a com­pany that op­er­ates heavy equip­ment in or­der to avoid down­time and to keep run­ning.

The owner and direc­tor of Sierra For­est Ser­vices, Matthew owns log­ging equip­ment from sev­eral man­u­fac­tur­ers, but one com­pany dom­i­nates: Cater­pil­lar.

“I’ve sort of leaned back to­wards the Cat® ma­chines be­cause the deal­ers are close by,” he said, and parts are read­ily avail­able. “Just lo­cal sup­port. That’s what we’re mov­ing to­wards -all our sup­pli­ers just to be within driv­ing distance for parts.” Down­time is costly in terms of lost pro­duc­tion, he noted.

Sierra For­est Ser­vices is based in Healesville, about 65 kilo­me­tres east of Mel­bourne and lo­cated just west of Yarra Ranges Na­tional Park. Matthew and his com­pany were work­ing re­cently in Starth Creek, about 70 kilo­me­tres north of Healesville, where he talked about his com­pany’s op­er­a­tions and his ex­pe­ri­ence with

Cat forestry equip­ment.

Matthew(41) started work­ing in log­ging and launched his own com­pany in 2000. He pre­vi­ously worked in his fa­ther’s ex­ca­vat­ing busi­ness, help­ing to build roads for log­ging. He tran­si­tioned into hard­wood log­ging at first but has fo­cused on har­vest­ing trees in soft­wood plan­ta­tions the past 13 years. “This year we’ve done a bit of eu­ca­lyp­tus for the first time,” he said.

“It was more of a life­style thing,” said Matthew, to fo­cus on log­ging soft­wood. Work­ing in hard­wood forests was more re­mote and re­quired more travel. “I didn’t see a fu­ture in it...I saw a fu­ture in plan­ta­tion log­ging.”

His fa­ther has re­lied on Cat equip­ment in his ex­ca­vat­ing busi­ness, Stoppa Ex­ca­va­tions, for more than 40 years, and work­ing for his fa­ther, Matthew had plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence with the Cat brand and Cat ma­chines. His fa­ther has done busi­ness over the years with the Wil­liam Adams Cat, the deal­er­ship for Vic­to­ria and Tasmania. “I’ve been go­ing into Wil­liam Adams... since I was that big,” said Matthew, ges­tur­ing with his hand to show how tall he was as a boy.

Matthew has a mixed fleet of log­ging equip­ment, but most of his ma­chines -- four of the six -- are the Cat brand. The com­pany is equipped with a Cat 545D Skid­der, Cat 320C For­est Ma­chine, Cat 320D For­est Ma­chine, and the lat­est ad­di­tion, a new Cat 538 For­est Ma­chine.

Cat For­est Ma­chines are ver­sa­tile, pur­pose-built ma­chines on tracks that can be con­fig­ured for gen­eral forestry (GF) op­er­a­tions or pri­mar­ily for log load­ing (LL) and log han­dling tasks. Those set up for gen­eral forestry op­er­a­tions, for ex­am­ple, can be equipped with har­vest­ing, feller­bunch­ing, or pro­cess­ing at­tach­ments for har­vest­ing tim­ber or pro­cess­ing the stems. Cat For­est Ma­chines con­fig­ured as LL ma­chines can be used for shovel log­ging, han­dling and mov­ing trees, stack­ing logs, and load­ing logs onto trucks.

Sierra For­est Ser­vices em­ploys about three or four other peo­ple, some­times five. Af­ter the bush­fires of 2009, the com­pany had up to 20 peo­ple at work for it.

The com­pany per­forms tree-length log­ging op­er­a­tions. Track ma­chines with har­vest­ing at­tach­ments fell the tim­ber. Other ma­chines fol­low to shovel the trees to skid roads as needed, and the skid­der picks up hitches of trees and drags them to a land­ing or deck. At the land­ing, a ma­chine with

We’re tak­ing a whole move­ment out of the sys­tem.

a pro­cess­ing at­tach­ment de­limbs the trees and cuts them to length, and other ma­chines sort and stack the logs and load them onto trucks.

The new Cat 538 For­est Ma­chine is set up for gen­eral forestry work. It is equipped with a LogMax 7000XT at­tach­ment for pro­cess­ing trees at the land­ing. Matthew wanted a track ma­chine for work­ing at the land­ing, he said, for its reach and other fac­tors. His other Cat For­est Ma­chines are used for shov­el­ling or load­ing op­er­a­tions.

He con­sid­ered other man­u­fac­tur­ers, but he and his fa­ther have had good ex­pe­ri­ence with Cat ex­ca­va­tors and forestry ma­chines over the years “and never had any drama to them”.

Mathew has been do­ing busi­ness with Cat since he has been in log­ging, and his con­nec­tion through his fa­ther’s com­pany goes back even longer. That ex­pe­ri­ence has demon­strated that he can rely on Cat and its deal­ers for ser­vice and sup­port.

He has been par­tic­u­larly pleased with the Cat 538 For­est Ma­chine for its fuel econ­omy and quiet, sta­ble op­er­a­tion. “Fuel econ­omy is a big one,” said Matthew. He es­ti­mates he is sav­ing 2-3 litres of fuel per hour.

“It’s quiet,” he said, in the cab for the op­er­a­tor and out­side as well. He has been im­pressed by the heavy-duty track sys­tem and pur­pose-built un­der­car­riage. “Built sta­ble, very sta­ble.”

Op­er­a­tor com­fort is “re­ally good,” he added. “It’s the best seat I’ve ever had in a ma­chine.”

He’s plan­ning to buy another Cat For­est Ma­chine in the near fu­ture, a Cat 558 LL.

He owned For­warders in the past but de­cided to sell them. “I moved away from for­warders be­cause I wanted to get away from dou­ble-han­dling wood,” he ex­plained. With his ap­proach, trucks are loaded di­rectly at the decks. “We’re tak­ing a whole move­ment out of the sys­tem.

“That’s where a pur­pose­built log loader works bet­ter,” he added, “stack­ing and load­ing.”

Sierra For­est Ser­vices works in hilly and steep ter­rain at times. Log­ging on steep ground is “tough,” he ac­knowl­edged... “it’s in­ter­est­ing.” He is con­sid­er­ing the use of ca­ble-as­sisted har­vesters for felling tim­ber in steep ter­rain.

Matthew en­joys trav­el­ling when he has the op­por­tu­nity, and has vis­ited the USA and Canada over the years to learn about log­ging meth­ods in those coun­tries and to see demon­stra­tions of new equip­ment.

He and his wife, who han­dles the ad­min­is­tra­tive du­ties for the busi­ness, have two chil­dren, ages 10 and 13. The com­pany is named for their daugh­ter, Sierra.

■ Matthew Stoppa (in red jacket) and An­thony Wat­son (Cater­pil­lar's Forestry In­dus­try Man­ager based in Tul­la­ma­rine, Vic­to­ria) at the site in Starth Creek ,Vic­to­ria.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.