The $200 billion forest products industry plays a vital role in the economy. Without the efforts of these people, we wouldn’t have paper, lumber for construction, flooring boards, or timber for our DIY projects.
In turn, this industry relies on a wide range of heavy machinery to get the job done efficiently, with forestry trailers and cranes playing a major role.
Keep reading for more on the role of cranes in the forestry industry.
What are the Uses of Cranes in Forestry?
Grapples and cranes play a major role in every industry. They’re vital for lifting, moving, and placing heavy objects. Yet, forestry cranes occupy a league of their own.
They’re used for loading rail cars and trucks, offload trucks, and feed logs into manufacturing plants. Different cranes fulfill these roles at each stage of the process.
Forest environments mean heavy going for vehicles, with rutted tracks, dense muddy patches, and many obstacles to negotiate. That means you need rugged and reliable machines to get the job done.
There are five steps involved in harvesting trees from a forest. These are:
Moving to the Tree
In plantations, the trees occupy rows with enough space in between to allow access for forestry vehicles. Sometimes loggers use a horse and skidder for getting to the site.
Tree Felling and Preparation
Once they reach the desired spot, loggers prepare the tree for processing. There are three ways to do this:
- Full tree – loggers cut the tree and transport it intact to the landing site
- Tree length – they top the tree and transport it with its branches to the site
- Short wood – they top the tree, delimb it and cut it into segments
Extracting the Tree
Once the tree is ready to move, it’s loaded onto a trailer and transported to a central location for pick up. Once there are enough trees accumulated, the next phase begins.
Sometimes loggers will process the trees into further sections at this point instead of at the stump.
Loading the Trees
Large, long trucks arrive at the landing site to collect the logs. A crane loads them onto the waiting vehicles.
Transporting the Logs
From here, the logs travel to the nearest mill via road for processing. Once they’re prepared for sale, trucks then move them to a central storage area where they await sale.
Types of Cranes Used in Forestry
It’s easy to see how cranes come in handy at every stage of this process. That’s why certain manufacturers, like STEPA forestry cranes, Hiab forestry cranes, and Palms forestry cranes create a range of specialized crane models for this type of work.
Wood Harvesting Cranes
Although some trailer- and truck-mounted cranes fulfill multiple roles in the realm of forestry, there are also some cranes with specific tasks.
There are two main types of cranes employed for harvesting wood, as follows:
Harvester cranes comprise rugged, maneuverable, machinery mounted on carriers with rubber tires. They have purpose-built knuckle boom grapples and saws at the end of an extendable, articulated boom.
This integrated unit strips the branches from the trunk of the tree, then cuts a predetermined length off the log and places it on the ground.
These cranes have a knuckle boom log loader attached to a timber transport vehicle. They pick up the logs from the ground and moves them to the landing point.
This type of forestry crane comprises a knuckle boom log loader fitted to a durable forestry timber transport vehicle. It picks up the logs from their stacks and transports them to the roadside ready for the logging truck.
These cranes have telescopic sections and wide load cradles. These aspects give them added stability, so they can travel over uneven terrain with a slope of up to 80%.
Their tilt-able axes work well for carrying and depositing logs at any angle, and operators can even automate some of these functions.
S-boom cranes offer 12-meter high grappling power, while Z-boom cranes fold away compactly, so there’s no need to remove the grapple before driving the truck away.
Transporting the Logs
A grapple truck with a forestry crane trailer usually transports the logs onward to the mill. There are two major types of cranes used for this i.e. the L-crane and the Z-crane.
These cranes can reach far to grab the logs easily from the roadside and pack them for transport.
At the lumberyard, cranes unload the trucks onto piles where they await processing. These cranes usually unload trucks by day and then feed them into the mill at night.
There are three main types of cranes used for these tasks:
- Straight track portal or linear cranes that move on parallel tracks
- Radial log boom portal cranes rotating on a circular track around a center pivot
- Rotating or pedestal cranes that turn on a bearing
These cranes are durable, robust machines designed to withstand this hard labor.
New Frontiers for Forestry
Nowadays, manufacturers have fine-tuned forestry cranes to offer a host of new conveniences.
Digital safety sensors and weighing systems prevent overloading for the maximum lift within safe parameters, while enhanced features mean safe, smooth operation at all times.
Virtual reality technology helps crane operators to visualize what’s going on around them without having to strain, ensuring safe work procedures and optimum performance.
More Fantastic Facts
So, if you’re ever looking for a forestry crane for sale, now you know what you need. If you’re not in the market for cranes, you’ve still learned some interesting facts.
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