Re­gional Voice

New Zealand Logger - - Top Spot -

Nathan Tay­lor, Mechanised Ca­ble Har­vest­ing Limited - Nel­son

We are pretty pas­sion­ate about mech­a­ni­sa­tion at MCH and have been en­gaged with util­is­ing new tech­nolo­gies for the last 15 years. Our fo­cus is around mech­a­ni­sa­tion mak­ing it eas­ier to keep peo­ple safe in a cab en­vi­ron­ment rather than on the slopes. There are num­ber of op­tions out there and we pro­gressed with an EMS ma­chine teth­er­ing us­ing a grap­ple swing yarder for ex­trac­tion and a fur­ther EMS ma­chine with a fal­con car­riage. The cost is ex­pen­sive but it’s im­por­tant for every­one in­volved to ra­tio­nalise that against the cost of a life and keep­ing our peo­ple safe. From the health & safety as­pect mech­a­ni­sa­tion is key to tak­ing lives out of the most crit­i­cally dan­ger­ous man­ual sit­u­a­tions. We feel that there is great op­por­tu­nity for our peo­ple to train and get them­selves a new skill set as the op­er­a­tion of these ma­chines should not be un­der es­ti­mated. Most def­i­nitely MCH feel good that we have made every ef­fort to keep our crews safe.

Wayne McEwen, Black­s­tump Log­ging - Gis­borne

Fol­low­ing a two-day trip to Nel­son and be­ing hosted by DC Equip­ment who were very will­ing to share their in­for­ma­tion and show us dif­fer­ent tech­niques in har­vest­ing and us­ing the Fal­con grap­ple, I be­came fully sup­port­ive of mech­a­ni­sa­tion and the aware of changes in pro­cess­ing and to­tally be­hind tak­ing men off the slopes. With an open mind we have made changes to the way we log and we are able to shovel and feed our grap­ple be­cause we have no peo­ple on the slopes. Some set­tings are get­ting us 100% off our sys­tems and at times we have to re­vert back to man­ual but this is a pos­i­tive change to the crew not hav­ing to do the man­ual work day af­ter day. Un­der­stand­ably it takes a bit to get the sys­tem and op­er­a­tion right, but we are now see­ing poor and av­er­age log­ging con­di­tions achiev­ing bet­ter pro­duc­tion rates and oth­ers in the re­gion have teth­er­ing tech­nol­ogy and get­ting great re­sults. I also think there is more op­por­tu­ni­ties for crew to move around the com­pany and take up roles util­is­ing new tech­nolo­gies, pro­vid­ing di­ver­sity and that ex­tra chal­lenge to ad­vance them­selves and their learn­ing. We are find­ing that some of our younger crew mem­bers have some pretty good tal­ent in this area, we have a 20 year old “weapon” to quote and our main breaker out is now op­er­at­ing the hauler & grap­ple sys­tem. With the ad­di­tion of a Fal­con winch as­sist ma­chine ar­riv­ing in March, we are ex­pect­ing even greater pro­duc­tiv­ity and I am sure it won’t stop there.

Nick Tomble­son, Tomble­son Log­ging - Taupo

As a ground base crew Tomble­son Log­ging is a dif­fer­ent story in re­gards to mech­a­ni­sa­tion to oth­ers as hav­ing op­er­ated for 7 years prior with zero in­ci­dences, this was not a re­quire­ment only for safety. Ini­tially we felt that we did not want to be left be­hind with tech­nol­ogy ad­vanc­ing pro­duc­tion. We also recog­nised the so­cial im­pact that can come about go­ing mechanised, that so­cial aware­ness not want­ing to lose loyal staff and so were for­tu­nate that we did not have to lose any­one in the changeover. His­tor­i­cally look­ing back, you think it’s ex­pen­sive, but you have to con­sider all the ben­e­fits, the pro­duc­tion gains and cost ben­e­fits. There is a high level of ini­tial debt and I think for­est man­agers may not re­alise the enor­mity of that debt. Mech­a­ni­sa­tion is now mov­ing that fast, that if you’re not keep­ing up with it you will find you get left be­hind. Rapid ad­vance­ments with tech­nol­ogy in the last 6 months has pro­vided ef­fec­tive track­ing on checks and balances in your busi­ness and hav­ing ac­cu­rate data to be able to talk about re­sults with crew. That data is black & white and not hearsay and can be shared, mak­ing pro­duc­tion real. With crews spread from North­land to Taupo this is go­ing to mean we are more in con­trol of our busi­ness.

Al­lan Sole, Sole Log­ging Ltd – New Ply­mouth

We have a huge is­sue find­ing labour on the West coast of the North Is­land and we have had to con­sider tech­nol­ogy if we want to stay sus­tain­able. It is not a short­age of jobs but a short­age of skilled peo­ple. So, bear­ing in mind mech­a­ni­sa­tion is a huge cost to out­lay for rel­a­tively low pro­duc­tion har­vest­ing but fac­ing se­vere skill and labour short­ages, our op­tions were limited and to con­tinue op­er­at­ing we have in­vested in two dif­fer­ent grap­ple car­riages, the EMS hawk-eye and the DC Equip­ment Fal­con grap­ple. We know from oth­ers that there is a pe­riod of learn­ing, chang­ing habits and set­tling in so it is hard to say what the cost vari­a­tions are ma­chine vs man but that will be­come clear soon and ob­vi­ously there are few op­tions if you do not have peo­ple to take up man­ual roles. Tech­nol­ogy is also about test­ing the con­cept but un­less peo­ple are pre­pared to give it a go, sup­port it and sup­ply feed-back to equip­ment com­pa­nies then we will not move ahead. We also now op­er­ate 4 pro­ces­sors on the land­ings, again in re­sponse to the scarce labour re­source. It is a bal­anc­ing act to keep peo­ple on the ground as there are times when ma­chines can­not be used and phys­i­cal power ver­sus tech­nol­ogy is a to­tally dif­fer­ent skill set. With mech­a­ni­sa­tion these im­por­tant skill sets are slowly be­ing lost.

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