West coast loggers drawn to New Zealand technology

Tahlia HopkinsSteep Slope Logging

The tables are set to be turned on logging contractors in Washington and Oregon. For decades USA loggers have sold their old cable logging equipment to their New Zealand counterparts. Now, technology developed down under is rapidly gaining favor on the west coast. As a result, Kiwi loggers are set to show off their newest steep slope logging innovations on USA’s west coast on April 20, 2017.

New Zealand’s loggers faced massive safety challenges in tree falling, especially on steep slopes, in 2014. They simply had to reduce accidents or face massive workplace restrictions. A few innovative loggers led the way to a much safer way to harvest steep sloped forests.

The first innovation was a custom-designed traction-assisted harvester, the ClimbMax, built and commissioned by Nigel Kelly of Kelly Logging in steep South Island forests. Once he had proven winch-assist concepts in practice, others developed competing designs. This competitive spark drove innovations in other logging safety applications. The resulting innovations are set to provide benefits to loggers harvesting steep forests up and down the west coast.

Another logger-turned-manufacturer chose to use a twin-winch design. “We focused completely on key safety and engineering principles first,” says NZ-based logging equipment manufacturer Chris Hancock. He adds, “engineering standards come first, then we looked at performance expectations. So far it’s working well.” The result is a high-tech system mounted on an anchor machine remotely controlled by the harvester operator.

Quick to see the benefits of these New Zealand innovations was Frank Chandler, an experienced logger working throughout Washington state with his father, Frank Snr. Their company, C&C Logging has learned how to adapt and operate these new systems in USA west coast conditions.

Joining Kelly, Hancock and Chandler will be several other leading loggers with years of on the ground experience. They are just part of a strong contingent of forestry professionals heading to the Red Lion Hotel in Kelso, Washington for the first USA “Steep Slope Logging” Conference on April 20, 2017. The full conference program is now available online. To view the program and register, go to: http://steepslopelogging.events

Photo: ClimbMAX harvester