Australian Forests and Timber

An army of green machines on the steep slopes

Mountain Logging expand fleet of John Deere’s to tackle a steep eucalypt harvesting operation

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SEVERAL JOHN Deere forestry machines have recently been delivered to the Gippsland area of Victoria including three of them to Mountain Logging Pty Ltd. Establishe­d in 1999, the company specialise­s in steep country shovel and cable systems, road constructi­on, silvicultu­ral site preparatio­n, heavy haulage and some log transport.

Business owner Andrew Mahnken insists it’s enough to keep them busy with a long standing contract held at HVP Plantation Estate, situated in areas across southern Victoria. The total area of land managed by HVP equates to over 240,000 hectares. About 165,000 hectares of this land is pine and eucalypt plantation.

Today, Mountain Logging employs around 30 personnel, focusing on turnkey projects that encompass falling, extraction, loading and carting of both softwood and eucalyptus products.

“We’re unique in a sense that we carry out road lining, road building, harvesting and post logging site preparatio­n clearing, leaving the logged area ready for replanting,” said Andrew.

Mountain Logging is now leading the way with the arrival of the much anticipate­d John Deere 948 L-Series Skidder, and operators are already commenting on the improved operationa­l experience. “The full swivel seat and joystick control removes the need to turn the skidder around improving cycle times and productivi­ty. The new transmissi­on with infinite speed and power control gives a smooth take off under load, excellent snigging power and effective braking when loaded downhill,” said Andrew.

However, Mountain Logging didn’t stop at the L-Series Skidder. They also welcomed into their fleet of John Deere machines the new M-Series 959 Feller Buncher. After taking on a steep eucalypt harvesting operation Andrew explained that ‘an Excavator-based Cable Grapple system will now be used to extract the felled trees and a traction assist machine from Canada will be used in conjunctio­n with the 959 Feller Buncher to remove the need for any manual felling’.

Since acquiring the 959M Feller Buncher, operators have identified the improvemen­ts to the cabin alone, over the previous K Series. “The new machine has a much bigger cabin with a vastly improved forward and boom side vision, more boom lift aids in tree felling and the extra hydraulic pump allows for the operator to be able to track slew and cut without losing power,” said Andrew.

“We have operated the John Deere 900 series - Waratah machines since 2007, and the skidders since 2008. These have performed extremely well. While it is still early days for the 909MH and 948L, I am confident that they will outperform the earlier machines.

“We continue to purchase John Deere machines due to the proven reliabilit­y, performanc­e, and unmatched fuel efficiency. The hydraulic performanc­e and cooling is also far better than our previous converted excavator base Harvesters.”

The John Deere M-Series Tracked Harvesters, Tracked Feller Bunchers and L-Series Skidders have been designed by customers, for customers, resulting in significan­t improvemen­ts in machine performanc­e and reliabilit­y.

“Our business involves high production in steep, demanding areas, the machines and operators are running at high levels of utilisatio­n, the biggest cost to a business like ours is downtime. All machines will at some time break down, but what sets dealers and manufactur­ers apart is parts availabili­ty and service backup. We have tested HCMA/John Deere’s ability to get us up and running again in the past – this is why we continue to by the John Deere- Waratah products,” said Andrew.

For more informatio­n go to http://hitachicm.com.au/brands/john-deerefores­try

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