Upping production to the Lim-mit
Alberta logger Dale Giroux is working with a new Risley LM2600 Lim-mit delimber that has increased his production by 15 per cent without sacrificing quality.
By Tony Kryzanowski
Alberta logger Dale Giroux is into high performance equipment both on the job and off the job. In his spare time and during spring break-up, Dale and his two sons are well-known and successful drag racers on the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) drag racing circuit. During logging season, Dale is a stump-to-dump contractor for Alberta Plywood and Slave Lake Pulp, facilities owned by West Fraser Timber and located in Slave Lake, Alberta. He harvests between 200,000 and 300,000 cubic metres of timber per year during a season that spans September through to March.
In addition to working for West Fraser, he often picks up extra contracts from other area forest companies. Giroux has been a logging contractor for 20 years, and his business, D Giroux Logging, is headquartered in the small community of Driftpile, between Slave Lake and High Prairie. For the past four years, he has been salvaging burnt timber due to the number of forest fires that have occurred in the Slave Lake area. Now he is back in green timber, where he logs about 70 per cent aspen and 30 per cent conifers. Giroux recently purchased a new LM2600 Lim-mit delimber from Risley Equipment to replace a model 2000 Lim-mit delimber that had a lot of hours on it, and in the process increased his production by 15 per cent without sacrificing quality.
The unit is mounted on a Komatsu PC270LC carrier, which features a 300 series undercarriage and 200 series upper. Giroux says he wanted this particular configuration because it would provide him with the ability to drive the carrier over rougher terrain and on softer ground. It even gives him the option of delimbing and bucking at the stump if necessary. “We also find that with this combination, you get a lot better life out of the undercarriage,” he adds. He owns a fairly large fleet of equipment and tends to favour certain brands for certain jobs. For example, he uses Komatsu and John Deere carriers for his four Risley Lim-mit delimbers.
He only operates Tigercat feller bunchers —two model 870 units and one 860. His skidders are John Deere 748’s as well as one 635 Tigercat. Then he owns two Hitachi backhoes, two Komatsu dozers, a Madill butt ’n top loader, and a Championgrader. “All the equipment manufacturers make good equipment,” he says, “but I tend to do a lot of research on what’s available depending on the job I need done. Some manufacturers are just a little bit better at doing certain things, so I base my decision on the research I do and the performance I have seen.” Given his experience in drag racing where one mistake could mean either the pits or the prize money, he understands the consequences of poor performance.
The Lim-mit LM2600 has been on the market for about a year, and is a smaller version of the LM3600 delimber. Giroux says he chose the LM2600 because it was properly sized for his usual wood diet. He says it will delimb and process more than 98 per cent of the logs that he harvests. He can delimb and process logs up to 28 inches at the butt. Aspen is processed and delivered tree length, while conifers are bucked to 17-, 61-, and 71-foot lengths. As usual, he shopped around a lot before settling on the LM2600 delimber on the PC270LC Komatsu carrier. “There are a lot of delimbers out there that do a really good job, but their production is a little bit slower,” says Giroux. “I was looking for something that would produce high quality logs but still maintain high production. Also, the mills are putting a lot of emphasis on log quality and better utilization of the wood. We needed something that worked well within their quality program.”
He says the combination of larger rollers, a new knife configuration, and the new COMS3 computer system have helped to improve the delimber’s production speed. But with features such as adjustable pressure on the roller wheels, “there is less damage to the wood.” In addition to a new angle on the delimbing knives, it has the ability to delimb in both directions. The knives close to three inches and open up to 42 inches. One of the unique features of the LM2600 is that it can measure either from the top saw or from the butt saw. According to equipment supplier Risley, the advantage of measuring from the top down is that there is the potential for greater fibre recovery.
One sawmill in Prince George, BC estimated that by measuring from the top down, they could achieve additional savings of $1 million per year in fibre recovery. Giroux, however, measures his logs using the traditional bottom up method, and says that he has experienced many benefits just the same. “The day we got the machine, the performance was unbelievable,” he says. “It was just amazing to see how accurate the computer was, and how quickly the rolls worked. We were really happy with the quality of the work it was doing.”
Giroux has also succeeded in achieving better fuel efficiency with this configuration. Prior to the LM2600 becoming available, his options with the Risley line were to purchase another Lim-mit 2200 or the LM3600. Both require carriers the size of his John Deere 892 carriers or something in the 30-ton category. “I was looking for something that I could mount on a 22 to 25 ton carrier that would still handle a 28-inch tree,” he says. “I was able to mount the LM2600 delimber on a smaller carrier, but still get the production of a big machine.”
Delimber operator Dennis Giroux, the owner’s cousin, has about eight years experience operating delimbers for Dale. He says what he likes about the delimber is that is comes with an optional bar and chain topping saw instead of a circular saw. “With this system, you don’t have to wait for the topping saw to speed up,” he says. “You also get a better cut—like no split ends.” Dale adds that it is more efficient when they are bucking logs. “With the new top saw, we are able to cut and buck a larger diameter top,” says Dale. “That means a lot when you are in aspen, because those logs have a lot of big tops.”
He was, in fact, instrumental in helping to design the bar and chain top saw system for this delimber. The new measuring trail wheel on the delimber also allows for precision bucking for all log lengths. The delimber’s COMS3 computer control system has a number of functions that Giroux says result in better measuring accuracy.
For example, there is a proportional feed function that lets the operator make fine adjustments to achieve more accurate measurements. There is also a proportional squeeze function on the rollers that allows the operator to set the amount of pressure on each log depending on its size. In terms of measurement functions, it has the capability to measure down to a 4-inch top as well as collecting diameter, length and volume data. “When we are measuring log stems over log distances, it is very, very accurate,” says Dale. “With the bigger roll wheels and the adjustable constant pressure feature on the wheels, we get less slippage. When we are in conifers, we are able to produce a lot more volume because of those features.” Operator Giroux says that he appreciates that the delimber roller wheels are further down on the attachment, which provides him with better visibility.
The location of the rollers also gives the delimber more stability. It also comes with a new mounting bracket so that the machine is centred over the carrier for easier transport. Giroux says he needs less decking space with this delimber and carrier combination because he can deck logs about six feet higher. He adds that the Risley Lim-mit delimber has earned a reputation for its ruggedness, which explains why he has stuck with that particular brand given the large volume of aspen that he needs to harvest.
Risley has beefed up the LM2600 even more. Features include more three-quarter inch retaining bolts on the top saw door, a larger butt support area, double bearings on all horizontal carrier rolls, increased strength to the grab arms, strengthened design for the boom support structure, and a support tube that is 4.5 feet longer. Dale concludes that after more than 3,000 hours of production, the delimber has been very reliable. “That machine actually shocked me with how reliable it is,” he says. “I’ve never owned a machine that came out on a job, went to work, and just kept on working. It’s been very, very reliable, with minimal downtime.” Given the co-operation, and opportunity for input he says Risley has provided, Dale feels confident that he has the right high performance delimber for his particular environment.
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Tuesday, September 28, 2004