This is an extract from an article written by Roger Grafton, that appeared in the first issue of SA Forestry magazine, published in October 1986. The bundle trailer system of extracting harvested timber from in-field is still widely used today, but I have never seen a tractor without its two front wheels (see original photo below)? Can anybody explain this strange phenomenon?

The Highflats Estate of Saligna Forestry has streamlined the extraction of pulp logs by using self-loading bundle trailers. Productivity has risen steadily to over 150 tons per tractor, per shift. Under perfect conditions the extraction team went for a one-day record and reached an amazing 545 tons (109 loads) with one tractor.

Section Manager Roland Morgan said: “It took us nine months to get the system right but in the last three months we have really started performing. Yesterday for example we extracted 510 tons with three tractors in eight hours. That’s 170 tons each, from a poor site and including a breakdown.”

….. Highflats is progressively changing from hand-loading the tractor-trailers to the mechanised loading of pre-made stacks or bundles.

Mr Morgan explains: “For success, you must want to make this system work. You must plan the extraction details before you fell the trees. The bundles must be built in the right positions for the tractors to be able to reverse the trailers up to them.”

… Each tractor driver is assisted by one man who chains the bundles in-field and helps with loading. Two standard sugar cane slings go around each stack and the chains are later brought back from the depot by the tractor.

… Eric Hobson, who manufactures the self-loaders at Ixopo, said a major benefit of the new bundle system is the independence of the three components. For example, bundles can be built while tractors are being repaired; tractors can work when field staff have the day off; and road trucks can do the next haulage leg at night.

“The system does not grind to a halt just because one or two wheels fall off,” he commented.

*First published in SA Forestry magazine, October 1986

Related article: A long and winding road – NTE Centenary



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