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Centipede – the sustainable forest machine of the future

Centipede – the sustainable forest machine of the future
Undergoing test trails, the Centipede test machine is based on a Komatsu 855 forwarder (photo courtesy Komatsu Forest).

A new type of forest machine is currently driving around the Swedish forests. It combines gentleness, increased productivity, and an improved driver environment and is the result of a large collaborative project that has been ongoing since 2019. Called Centipede, the concept machine has been developed by eight Swedish forestry companies and one forest machine manufacturer. Test runs are currently underway and the results look promising.

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Swedish forestry is facing important challenges and the issue of sustainability is at the center.

Therefore, Södra, Sveaskog, SCA, Holmen, Norra Skog, Mellanskog, Stora Enso, and BillerudKorsnäs and the machine manufacturer Komatsu Forest AB, part of Japan-headed plant and machinery manufacturer Komatsu Ltd, have jointly developed a new forest machine for more gentle forestry.

The Centipede is designed with innovative technology to achieve the most sustainable forestry possible – for both the environment and people.

The forestry industry and Komatsu are now taking a big technological leap together with a machine that is kinder to the environment and the driver, while at the same time we get a more efficient timber flow. With the Centipede, we can meet the challenge of ever shorter periods of snow-covered land, and therefore the machine is one of forestry’s most important development projects, said Magnus Bergman, Head of Technology at SCA Skog and Chairman of the project’s steering group.

Gentle, productive, and pleasant to operate

Centipede is developed to meet the challenges of forestry and has three important advantages – lower ground pressure increased productivity and improved operator environment.

This is an extensive project, where the parties invest long-term to benefit sustainable forestry. In the project, we have fundamentally challenged today’s technology and taken a step into the future, said Erik Nilsson, CTO at Komatsu Forest.

The machine is built to reduce the risk of ground damage, increase transport speed and reduce whole-body vibrations for the operator. The machine has a newly developed track system for forestry with a large support surface against the ground.

The machine also has a fully sprung chassis that handles the unevenness of the ground, which means that the speed of the machine can be increased significantly without vibrations.

With the newly developed technology, the Centipede can be driven in both areas that are usually considered winter areas and areas that are heavily affected by precipitation.

We in forestry know how important it is to use the forest without damaging the land. Our forest-owning members want to hand over a carefully managed forest to the next generation. It strengthens the economic, social, and cultural values of the forest. By being involved in developing the next generation of forestry machinery, we are doing something that is highly valued within family forestry, said Magnus Petersson, Head of Entrepreneurial and Technology Development at Södra.

In addition to the fact that Centipede can meet the timber supply throughout the year and thereby create better conditions for profitable felling, it has several direct production-increasing properties.

The innovative design allows the Centipede to move significantly faster in the terrain and it also allows a larger load than the Komatsu 855 forwarder, which was used as a reference.

Both of these characteristics create the conditions for significant increases in productivity. In addition, Centipede has been shown in simulations to reduce fuel consumption by up to 15 percent in soft terrain, which is also positive for both the environment and profitability.

Minimizing the impact on the land in our cultivated forests is an important issue. Therefore, this is an important and long-awaited step in the development and also completely in line with Sveaskog’s long-term orientation for more sustainable forestry. We see here an opportunity to take a big step together in the forestry industry with an efficient forest machine that is gentler on both the environment and the driver, Anders Järlesjö, Manager Forest Technology at Sveaskog.

During the project, a thorough preliminary study has been carried out and a new machine concept has been developed. The machine has been thoroughly evaluated through simulations and test runs.

In the spring of 2022, extensive tests will continue and after that, a decision will be made about the continuation of the project.

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