A South African designed and built all-terrain loader, known as the Lizard, made its debut at a field day in the Greytown district of the KwaZulu-Natal midlands recently.
The field day, organized by FSA and hosted by Bracken Timbers, was well supported by local timber and sugar farmers who were eager to see the Lizard in action, as well as a bunch of other equipment that was on display.
The Lizard was designed and built by China Govender, of China’s Engineering in Greytown.China has been manufacturing an array of sawmilling and loading equipment from his workshop for many years, and knows the kind of equipment required by timber and sugar farmers.
The story goes that China was on a fishing trip, waiting patiently for that big one to bite, when he saw a lizard climb up the trunk of a tree. What caught China’s attention was the way it moved and how efficiently it climbed over any obstacle that lay in its path.
Back in his workshop, China used this basic concept to design and build his unique, all-terrain loader, aptly named ‘The Lizard’. Its unique patented design and geometry gives it improved manoeuvrability and enhanced traction, which enables it to be used in a wide range of sugar and timber farming applications.
Its axles are linked and turn on two turntables, allowing it to ‘walk’ up a 30 degree gradient. It has a turning radius of just 1.5 meters, with the wheels tracking directly behind one another, thus protecting in-field rows, loading zones and prolonging tyre life.
The Lizard has been trialled with a grab attachment as a log loader, a skidder, a slew 180 degree cane loader with push-piler, and with a bucket attachment. At the field day it was used as a logger to load large pine logs into a trailer. It was also used as a skidder, extracting large, tree-length pine stems with a cable and winch.
“You can skid the logs to roadside and then load them into a trailer with the same machine,” China told SA Forestry.
He says it is quick and easy to change attachments on the Lizard, which could also be used with a pitting head, a boom sprayer, an excavator head, a trenching tool and a grader blade and firebreak cleaner.
It features top-of-the range components including ZF axles, Bosch hydraulics and an 86kW John Deere diesel engine, which runs at a constant speed of 1800 rpm @ 65 kW torque, in constant 4×4. Fuel consumption is claimed at a miserly 5.5 litres/hour.
It has a comfortable, well-protected cab with good visibility, and is equipped with a basic steering wheel so if you can drive a tractor, you can drive the Lizard.
Apparently the Lizard has been through an extensive R & D process with lots of input from farmers. It will be supported through Mascor’s branch network.
The talk among farmers in attendance was that the winching speed on the demo machine was a bit slow, but this has now been increased from six metres per minute to 20 metres per minute.
Also on show at the field day were a range of John Deere tractors, a couple of mulchers, self-loading trailer, a JCB loader, KM Hydraulics water pumps used in fire fighting, Stihl chainsaws and hand-operated planting tubes from Midlands Spraychem.
An excellent presentation by Deon van Wyk, Agri-business Manager for ABSA set the tone at the start of the field day. He said that there is growing demand for timber products around the world, and that the investment climate is ‘stable’. However he said that timber businesses need to be improving their productivity by 3% every year in order to stay ahead of the cost squeeze “otherwise you are going backwards”.
*First published in SA Forestry magazine, April