SP’s sharp new heads

SP was founded in 1978 and developed the world's first ever single-grip harvester head in 1980. Since then they’ve stayed ahead of the game in terms of sheer experience and productivity. During the past year the SP design and development team has focused on finalising all options and market adaptations to the SP 661 LF and SP 661 E harvester heads. These heads were released for sale in early 2018 and have quickly become SP’s best-selling models globally with more than 200 units sold so far.

SP 661 LF
The SP 661 LF is the latest design from SP. It is a compact and strong high performance harvester head designed according to SP’s Low Friction concept for maximum productivity. It is designed to be versatile and offers high productivity in both small and large diameter trees.

The well protected and robust design - in combination with state of the art hose routing - ensures high reliability and uptime regardless of tree size and harvesting conditions. The 661 LF can be customized to meet customers’ individual needs. Its versatility means it is equally at home on a wheeled harvester in Europe, a tracked harvester in Canada or an excavator in the Southern Hemisphere.

SP 661 E – the one-pass head
The SP 661 E is designed for one task only – one pass debarking of plantation grown Eucalyptus. Highest debarking quality and productivity is achieved through a unique combination of specially designed debarking knives, replaceable bark deflectors and high-speed feeding capabilities. Thanks to the proportional pressure function on knives and feed rollers the debarking process can be adjusted for different conditions, resulting in the best possible debarking quality and a minimum of fiber damage. The SP 661 E shares the same state of the art hose routing and protected design as the SP 661 LF, and offers unrivalled reliability and uptime. It was released at the end of 2018 and is currently working in Eucalyptus plantations all over the world. The latest development on the 661 E is the addition of the HD tilt frame for a better fit to suit tracked carriers for demanding operations.

Five innovations for maximum efficiency
SP harvester heads in the LF and E series are designed according to SP’s ‘Low Friction’ concept, which comprises five separate innovations and solutions designed to maximize production, optimize fuel and energy consumption, and drastically reduce maintenance costs. Together, these five solutions provide an unbeatable combination that allows SP to offer highly productive heads for thinnings, heavy final felling or harvesting hard wood.

The delimbing knives boast long, specially designed cutting edges, ensuring delimbing by cutting rather than snapping. This minimizes friction during delimbing, thereby increasing speed and productivity. The delimbing knives are cast in high-strength steel for maximum durability and service life.

Proportional pressure ensures that the head automatically always applies the optimal delimbing knife and feed roller clamping pressure on the stem, regardless of diameter. This minimizes friction between stem and head, ensuring the fastest and smoothest feed possible. Individual settings for different tree species further maximises production.

LogHold enables the delimbing knife clamping pressure to be lowered even further without any risk of dropping the stem. Should the stem start to slip, LogHold reacts instantaneously, raising the clamping pressure sufficiently to hold the stem in position.

Proportionally angled feed rollers ensure that the angle and carrying capacity of the feed rollers change in proportion to the stem diameter. When the feed rollers are fully open for processing large diameter stems, the feed rollers are set at their widest angle for maximum carrying capacity. This means that the clamping pressure to the delimbing knives can be minimised, which in turn reduces friction and enables the head to feed the stem quickly and easily. When the feed rollers are closed, this unique solution provides an incredibly narrow and agile head with compact dimensions.

Optimal hydraulics means that pressure drops are minimized by means of the size and design of each hydraulic component, such as the motors, valve blocks, couplings and hoses. This generates high energy efficiency and the lowest possible fuel consumption per cubic meter timber harvested, with power, force, and productivity maximized during feeding, delimbing, and cutting. Due to the fact that the heads in SP’s low friction concept only have two feed roller motors, the number of hoses, couplings, and bends can be significantly reduced, which also results in minimal hydraulic losses. The low pressure drops also reduce heat generation in the hydraulic system, which increases the service life of many machine components.

For more, visit https://spmaskiner.com

Conservation and forestry

The NCT Tree Farmer of the Year is awarded annually to tree farming operations that display excellence in sustainable plantation management. Candidates for the award are assessed against broad sustainability principles.

The 2021 winners in the Commercial Tree Farmer category are Brendon Raw and his wife Ninette, who manage their forestry business from a smallholding in the Karkloof in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. They have built up an integrated timber business including 1 000 ha of plantations and a sawmill.

Brendon and Ninette are also enthusiastic conservationists, and have taken on the role of protecting highly sensitive grasslands and wetlands at the headwaters of a major catchment that feeds into the Umgeni River which serves agriculture, industry and rural and urban settlements all the way from the Karkloof to the coast. These grasslands and wetlands are teeming with wildlife, including threatened and endangered species. The conservation areas have been successfully integrated into their highly productive plantation operation which produces sawlogs for their own sawmill and other markets.

NCT Forestry is a leading marketing co-operative catering for the needs of independent timber growers in South Africa. It has 1 800 shareholders/members who collectively own 300 000 ha of timber, which constitutes 21% of afforested land in SA.

See the video here...

Solutions for thinnings

Growing a productive forest requires hard work and commitment. Correctly timed thinning improves the forest’s growth conditions and makes trees grow sturdier more quickly. Thinning supports forest biodiversity when part of the forest is always in the growth phase.

“Thinning can also be called improvement felling, as it ensures the productivity of the forest, and the high quality and health of trees,” says Tuomo Moilanen, forest specialist at Ponsse. “The better a forest grows, the better it sequesters carbon. Thinning ensures that trees can be processed into high-quality products that sequester carbon for dozens or even hundreds of years,” says Moilanen.

In cut-to-length (CTL) harvesting, trees are already processed up to the intended length in the forest, enabling thinning to be ecological. When the harvester operator plans trails so that they can also be driven by the forwarder, trees can be both felled and transported without needing to move around unnecessarily in the forest.

“At thinning sites, the distance between trails is roughly 20 metres, and trees remaining by the side of the trail will grow in Finnish conditions 20–25 % more quickly, because they will have room to grow, both above and below,” Moilanen says.

Most premium forestry equipment manufacturers have machines designed to handle thinning operations in different conditions. One of these is the Finnish-based Ponsse. These machines are distributed and supported in South Africa by MTS Parts, based in Piet Retief in Mpumalanga.

The six-wheeled PONSSE Beaver and the eight-wheeled PONSSE Fox are ideal solutions for first thinning. PONSSE Fox is an excellent choice, especially when operating in soft terrain. High-flotation tracks should be selected as optional equipment for softer terrain to prevent surface damage.

At heavier thinning sites, the PONSSE Cobra and Scorpion harvesters, combined with the H5 or H6 harvester head, are the best choices in terms of productivity. In PONSSE Scorpion, the unobstructed visibility in all directions, together with cabin and crane levelling, makes working smooth even at dense thinning sites. As eight-wheeler machines, both models are also excellent in soft terrain.

While Elk and Wisent are the most popular PONSSE forwarders for thinning sites, Buffalo is also a good choice, especially when distances are longer, and the aim is to improve productivity. The forwarder can easily pick up trees from thinning sites when trails are properly protected (with branches) and as straight as possible; the fewer sharp bends there are, the less surface damage is caused.  

At thinning sites, the harvester head should be selected according to the dominant tree species. However, it should be considered that damaged trees and other trees in poor condition must also be removed from thinning sites, calling for sawing and feed force from the harvester head. The harvester head must be reliable at thinning sites because a large number of trees are produced quickly during each shift.      

At thinning sites, much rests on the forest machine operator – the operator decides what trees are removed and what are left standing. The forest owner hands over their assets to a professional forest machine operator to receive the highest possible profit, also in the future.

During September Ponsse organized an online event where customers and specialists explained more about solutions for thinning sites.

Watch the web event here...

Tigercat 1185 Harvester in action

The giant Tigercat 1185 harvester felling pine on the muddy slopes of a plantation in Richmond, KZN.

Check out the new Tigercat 1185 wheeled harvester in action in Richmond, KZN. It's the first harvester of it's kind to be brought in by AfrEquip forestry equipment. The Tigercat 1185 is one of the biggest, toughest wheeled harvesters on the local market. Keep an eye out in the next edition of SA Forestry magazine for the full story...