Factory Forest Machine
Purpose-built for forestry applications, the first Cat 320C FM in BC is at work for a Prince George contractor.
BC’s first new Cat 320C Forestry Machine went to work early this past summer at Grizzly West Logging, east of Prince George. Ready for action with a Waratah HTH 620 Warrior processing/felling head, the new machine joins three Cat 320 processors in service for varying periods over the past several years.
“We know exactly what the 320 can do but we were still very much looking forward to seeing this new one,” says owner Dwayne Holmes. “On first view, it is quite an impressive machine.”
Purpose-built at the Cat factory for forestry applications, the 320C FM can be configured for log loading, processing (stroke or roadside), or silviculture. Operating weight with the Waratah head is 59,000 lb.
Contracting to forest company Canfor since the mid-1990s, Grizzly West also runs a separate value-added side, harvesting small lodgepole pine for the Woodland Group, which operates Woodland Windows, a Prince George value-added manufacturer.
Holmes notes the Woodland contract has enabled the firm to continue to expand gradually over the past several years. The company employs 16 to 20 people in the two sides depending on the season.
“We started out in the late 1980s harvesting blowdown and moved into fully mechanized logging with the Canfor contract in 1995,” says Holmes. “We are now producing about 15 highway loads a day from the value-added side and 15 off-highway loads from the Canfor side, so things are going well. At the same time, we are always looking for opportunities to expand, the goal being to keep our people and our equipment busy through as much of the year as possible.”
Of the three older 320 processors from Finning, BC’s Cat dealer, two are fitted with stroke delimbers and one with a roadside processing head. Other equipment in use at Grizzly West includes a 320 excavator, TK723 and Cat 227 bunchers, a 525 rubber-tired skidder, a Cat 527 track grapple skidder (also used for road and trail construction) and 300 and 330 butt-n-top processors. Given the variety of work the company is involved in, Holmes says versatility is a primary consideration in choosing new equipment.
“We want as much flexibility as possible in our mechanized systems, and make our equipment decisions with that in mind. When we signed the Woodland contract, we started looking for a processor specifically for small lodgepole pine, but it also had to be able to handle larger wood as well. That meant a middle-of-the-road machine, not too large or too small, which is exactly where the 320C fits.”
This past summer, Holmes had only run the machine for a short time, but liked what he saw. “This machine has about 10 hp more than the 320B, which doesn’t sound like much but it makes a big difference in larger wood. The hydraulics are more responsive and it has all of the creature comforts you could want.”
He equipped the machine with an optional Weldco Beales forestry cab for the added room and visibility. “You can actually stand up inside so it is quite roomy. The visibility is better and it makes it easier to train new people. I think it looks better as well. We mounted a couple of additional lights on the cab for night work and—as we do with all of our processors—added a bumper rail on the right front corner to keep the logs from hitting the machine when they swing. Otherwise, the factory guarding is excellent.” Given the company’s success with its older 320 machines, Holmes says the main decision with the new machine was the processing/felling head. The Waratah HTH 620 can be used strictly as a processor or for harvesting as well if desired. No modifications to the 320C FM were required for the attachment.
The dangle-style HTH 620 features a sophisticated merchandising/measuring system, which includes automatic stops at up to 20 pre-programmed bucking lengths for up to six different species. Minimum and maximum diameter requirements can be programmed for each log length, as well as selected alternate automatic log values.
The system can also be programmed to provide scaled volume in cubic metres or cunits, with the data printed out on a cab-mounted printer. Other notable features include a topping saw, automatic chain saw tensioning, a three-roller feed system (one in each drive arm), built-in diagnostics and 330-degree rotation with a 60,000 pound capacity sealed Rotec Rotator bearing. Rubber-feed rollers are optional.
“This is a new head for us but there are a number out there in this area and it has a good reputation,” says Holmes. “I liked it for its simple design—only four cables connect it to the cab—and it is pretty sturdy so it looks like it will stand up. It also has the versatility we want—you can use it as a processor or a harvester/processor if you wish.”
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last modified on Thursday, October 07, 2004