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October 2007 - The Logging and Sawmilling Journal

CONTRACTOR PROFILE

Successful small wood combo

A Tigercat equipped with a Quadco L220 processor head has been paired with a Tigercat with a G N Roy feller buncher head, making for a very effective combination handling small wood in Quebec.

By George Fullerton

Camp Lac Roy is just shy of 300 kilometres north of the appropriately named Forestville on the North Shore of the St Lawrence River. Berscifor operates the camp to supply black spruce and jack pine logs to its sawmill at Labrieville, 170 kilometres south.

Maurice Laurencelle is one of the contractors on the Berscifor operation and brings a great deal of experience to the work. Laurencelle has been a contractor for Abitibi-Consolidated on the North Shore for nearly forty years, and worked in a contractor co-op for a couple of years before moving to Berscifor, after they purchased the Labrieville mill in 2004.

“We spoke with the Berscifor people and we came to terms for the work and it has worked out quite well for us,” says Laurencelle from his home in Les Escoumins, just upriver from Forestville. “We came to an agreement to harvest 150,000 cubic metres annually, with the opportunity to take more cut if it presents itself.”

Although Laurencelle maintains a very active role in his contracting business, son Carl supervises the day-to-day operations in the woods, serves as mechanic and fills in as operator when needed. With seven machines and fourteen operators at the remote camp, Carl has plenty to keep him busy with around the clock operations for the four-and-a-half-day work week.

The Laurencelles have a lot of admiration for Tigercat carriers and have several on their operation, one with a G N Roy fellerbuncher head, another with a Quadco L220 processor, and two with Waratah processor heads. The forwarder fleet consists of a Timberjack 1710 and two Valmets: an 860 and an 890.

The Quadco L220 (left) measures with two stationary butt plates, which is ideal for the Berscifor operation, where the saw material is cut at 16-foot lengths and pulpwood is bucked to nine feet. In front of the L220 (below, from left) are Jean Pierre Roy, Quadco territory manager for Eastern Canada, contactor Carl Laurencelle and L220 operator Martin Gagnon.

Similar to most other harvest operations on the North Shore of the St Lawrence, the Laurencelle operation is dominated by cut-to-length harvesters and forwarders. Although most of the harvesting on the North Shore has moved to cut-to-length, the Laurencelles have held on to their feller buncher and rely on it for profitably handling the poorest of the small short wood that dominates in the northern forest they work in. Over the past year, the Tigercat feller buncher with G N Roy head has been paired with the Tigercat with the Quadco L220 processor, which Carl says has been the best combination they have seen for handling the smallest wood they work with.

Carl emphasizes that the L220 is the heart of their entire operation. With a tree volume that requires eight to nine stems to make a cubic metre on average, he points out that it is not uncommon that—in poor stand conditions—to require up to 20 trees to make a cubic metre.

“When the stem volume gets very low, it is virtually impossible to operate a harvester economically,” Carl says. “On the other hand, a feller buncher can harvest a lot of very small trees very quickly, and the L220 is the ideal for processing the small trees. It is the best system we have seen for small wood.”

The L220 is mounted on a 1999 Tigercat carrier with 25,000 hours on the clock. “Since there is much less demand on the carrier when it is used for the processor, it is providing a second life for the carrier,” explains Carl. The processor follows the trail established by the feller buncher and obstacles are visible and avoidable. There is much less requirement for moving and swinging the processor, as compared to the feller buncher.

At 8,400 pounds, the processor requires a 25-ton carrier and 100 gallons-perminute oil flow. The 1,300 cubic centimetre roller motors generate 7,800 pounds of limbing force and feed speed is 15 feet per second. The unit will handle wood down to two inches in diameter and has six delimbing knives; two fixed and four retracting.

The L220 has proven to be ideal for processing the small trees in northern Quebec. “It’s the best system we have seen for small wood,” says Carl Laurencelle.

The L220 measures with two stationary butt plates, which is ideal for the Berscifor operation, where the saw material is cut at 16-foot lengths and pulpwood is bucked to nine feet. There are no diameter measurement devices on the 220—diameter measurement is a judgment decision on the part of the operator. However, the L220 operators have honed their skills at achieving the diameter specifications, and maintain those skills through periodic quality checks on processed wood throughout their shift.

Gilles Lesveque designed the L220 and built the prototype in the Levesque Brothers shop in Pennfield, New Brunswick. Levesque explains that the L220 (for 22-inch capacity) was an advancement on their 816 processor.

“The 816 was a solid mount processor and Chuck MacLennan at Quadco wanted to see a rotator on it, so we engineered the L220 and it has proved to be pretty impressive in northern Quebec,” says Levesque. “We used the same engineering principles for hose routing and placement as our early Target heads, so there is no dragging or chafing which means higher production and a clean environment.

“The traction spikes are in a spiral arrangement on the rollers so that each spike contacts the wood separately, and a spike never hits a hole from a previous spike. It provides superior traction and control on the stems.”

With the nature of the forests in northern Quebec, the average tree diameter is relatively small. In stands where the average diameter drops below 10 inches, a feller buncher and the L220 becomes a very efficient harvesting tool, explains Levesque.

“The Quadco processor is the centrepiece of our operation,” says Carl Laurencelle. “We carefully choose which areas with small wood where we put the feller buncher and processor, and we put the harvesters in areas where they can be more productive. We focus the operation on maximizing the productive time for the processor.”

Carl says that the production goal for the processor is 300 cubic metres per shift, with a weekly target of 2,000 cubic metres. He says that in better quality stands, the processor has easily achieved 3,000 cubic metres per week. The weekly production target for the harvesters is 1,000 cubic metres per week.

Carl indicates that the success of their operation comes in large part from the skill and dedication of the operators. “Our operators are proud of the work they do and gain a lot of dignity from their job. They are highly motivated to achieve production targets and maintain the equipment in good working order.”

In order to achieve maximum productivity with the processor, Carl operates the machine during the end of shift overlap, when the operators are taking their regular work breaks.

Operator Martin Gagnon was working with the Quadco processor this summer and very competently illustrated the speed and precision that it was designed to achieve. With an extremely smooth operating style, he made very short work of the piles of small diameter black spruce—and had very little interference with the remaining advanced regeneration on the site.

With the 220’s remarkable delimbing power and speed, stems were rapidly processed singly, often two at a time, and occasionally three small trees at a go. It was very seldom that a particularly malformed stem had to be reversed and put through the delimbing process a second time.

Carl remarks that they have been impressed with the availability with the L220. He says that there has been virtually no downtime with the processor since they started operating it. He adds that the L220 is very practical, with a strong design, and it is simple to troubleshoot any small problems. They have been very happy with the support provided from Quadco in setting up the processor, and the follow-up.

“There are a lot of different forestry machines available and many different applications. Contractors are continually looking for opportunities to innovate and gain an advantage for their operation. We constantly look at different machines and study how they can be utilized. When we saw the Quadco L220, we saw a very good opportunity for profitably adapting the machine to our needs.

“We always look to gain an advantage and create an opportunity to increase our operational productivity, and the L220 continues to be a success for us.”

 

 


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