Australian Forests and Timber
It’s big, it’s powerful and yet it’s fuel thrifty
MAJOR FUEL savings and increased production are just two of the standout features of Komatsu’s new 951 wheeled harvester despite it being billed as the largest harvester currently on the market. It has been variously described as a giant packed with future technology that delivers completely new levels of productivity, operator comfort and ecofriendliness.
Jill and Colin Wescombe, of Shanbe Logging (based in Tumbarumba) bought their 951 in September last year.
“We bought it because the wheeled harvesters are much quicker than the tracked harvesters, and as we are working in first thinning this is a big factor. They have improved in the last couple of years and are now extremely advanced with their technology,” says Colin.
“Monitoring systems in the harvester are state-ofthe-art and help with ongoing analysis in the office,” says Jill.
“The computer system in the harvester is linked to the internet website and information can be viewed in the office just by logging into the site.”
“We replaced our Tigercat tracked harvester with the wheeled 951 and the first thing that we were impressed with was the savings on fuel. The 951 uses just over half the fuel that the tracked harvesters that we have use. This is a huge saving.
“We were also impressed with the increased production by the wheeled machine. It has a smaller impact on the environment as well – not as much damage in the forest as is done by tracked harvesters and because it uses less fuel there is and environmental improvement there as well,” Colin said.
Like any astute business operators Jill and Colin started researching the purchase of the 951 about six months prior to commissioning it in the bush. It is currently working in first thinning operations near Tumbarumba.
“We have just had one of the wettest winters in this area since 1991 and we were worried about the ability of the wheeled harvesters to get about the forests in these extremely wet conditions, but this has proven to not be a problem at all. We have not even had to put the tracks on the tyres.”
The harvester does not leave as large a footprint in the forest.
The new 951 focuses on the operator like never before, featuring a large cab volume, superb visibility, smart screen placement and key for remote control of locks and hatches, the main circuit breaker and the cab heater from a distance. There are also optimised storage solutions, air conditioning, lighting, as well as three alternative joystick systems, including EME.
“Our operator loves the machine and says that he is not as tired at the end of the day. He says it is extremely comfortable. This affects the operator’s overall production as well; the machine has a smoother ride.
“He also loves the computer and its accuracy as he can accurately determine his production each day. The visibility in the cab is very good, there is no boom impeding your view as it is not directly in front of you,” said Jill.
Colin said that productivity had increased from an average of 160 to 170 tonne per day to an average of 200 tonne per day. “We paired the harvester with a Komatsu S132 harvesting head and the combinations seems to be working well as the S132 harvesting head is very quick,” he said.
Matt Mangan (Mangan Logging) is another who has opted for the 951.
“We’ve had it for about two months now. The average size of our timber has been getting smaller and smaller, so, with Komatsu Forest help we went and had a look at a 951 in Mount Gambier and decided to give it a crack.
“This is the first one into the Oberon area... it’s a pretty big gamble.
“It’s only early days but fuel economy is second to none especially compared to a tracked machine.
“As I said, it’s still pretty early yet to be able to have any valuable opinion, but it’s doing everything it should be so far.
“The boom positioning is real good .... good visibility.
“The operator gets out of it at the end of the day as good as he got in,” said Matt.
For more information go to www.komatsuforest.com.au