The Fastfell machine (above) and the Skogger (below) work together as a well-balanced, mechanised harvesting system that is economical and simple to operate and maintain.

An innovative, new timber harvesting system, designed and manufactured by Zululand-based Matriarch Equipment, offers growers and contractors an affordable solution for efficient felling and extraction. The FastFell and Skogger work in tandem to provide a well-balanced mechanised system that is economical and simple to run.

While the FastFell fells the trees and presents the timber for the extraction machine, the Skogger works quickly to extract the timber to roadside where it is efficiently stacked and presented for processing.

Matriarch’s system involves a lower capital outlay compared to imported, purpose-built equipment. The Matriarch units are cost-effective to run and maintenance is simple for any mechanic to carry out. The intuitive operator controls make for easy adaptation to these machines, with just some basic training required.

The Matriarch team, brothers Ashley (top), Justin (right) and Kelvin Bell with the new generation cane loader, the ULTECO6, in their Empangeni factory. They are the designers and manufacturers of the Skogger and Fastfell machines, as well as a range of Matriarch grabs.

“Our objective when developing these products was to provide a simplified, low-cost mechanised system bringing a cost per ton benefit,” says Justin Bell, head of Engineering at Matriarch.

“The FastFell uniformly presents trees in bunches on the ground after cutting. Bunch sizes are optimised to suit the Skogger,” said Justin.

Ashley Bell, who is responsible for Sales and Marketing at Matriarch, explained that they had developed the FastFell and Skogger to suit current conditions in South African forestry, where tree sizes are getting smaller in both pine and Eucalyptus.

“The timber equipment we are developing at Matriarch is tailored to the changing South African environment,” said Ashley.

He believes that the simplicity and cost effectiveness of their system makes it a manageable step up into mechanisation, particularly for emerging contractors in South Africa. The FastFell also brings with it a significant safety benefit over manual felling operations.

The Skogger … versatile, tough and made in South Africa.

“The FastFell and Skogger system should consistently deliver around 250 m3 of timber per shift, but this should be viewed with due consideration of the variables influencing productivity,” says Ashley.

Matriarch’s Skogger is a new concept machine, essentially a hybrid between a logger and a skidder, hence the name ‘Skogger’. This 4wd machine brings versatility to an operation in a number of ways. The MT500 (0.5 m2) grab offers a good balance between timber handling finesse and extraction capacity; and the boom and grab configuration lends itself to a multitude of tasks such as timber accumulation, extraction, sorting, stacking and loading.

“The roadside stacking ability of the Skogger makes for more efficient use of the roadside area and excellent presentation for the processor,” says Ashley.

Ashley Bell presents the Skogger at the Focus on Forest Engineering field day, 2017.

The Skogger can also be fitted with the Matriarch MT50FH Felling Head, which is the same head that is fitted to the FastFell. This brings greater versatility to a harvesting operation as the Skogger can be used as a wheeled feller-buncher on steeper terrain or in poor underfoot conditions necessitating 4wd.

“We are currently working on developing a medium production winch system to offer as an option on the Skogger, following a number of requests from customers,” commented Justin.

Both the Skogger and FastFell are fitted with JCB Dieselmax engines which have proven to be a reliable and economical choice on all Matriarch products. These machines offer unrivalled fuel economy with the Skogger averaging less than 7.5 litrs/hour and the FastFell around 6 litrs/hour.

The Matriartch factory is ramping up production of both the Skogger and FastFell as demand for these machines is growing. Distribution and support of Matriarch Equipment machines is being handled through the Bell Equipment network.

The Skogger and Fastfell work effectively together in Eucalyptus and pine.

*First published in SA Forestry magazine, Aug 2017



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