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Elmia Wood 2017: “Better than Google”

The world’s largest forestry fair was bigger than ever both in terms of area and exhibitor numbers. More importantly, exhibitors provided a dizzying array of new product launches, world premieres and disruptive applications proving that forestry is very much at the cutting edge.

Over 42 000 visitors braved weather and traffic to attend Elmia Wood 2017.

Almost 42 000 visitors braved weather and traffic to attend Elmia Wood 2017.

A total of 555 exhibitors from 28 countries converged on the Bratteborg farm and forest estate around 30 km south of Jönköping, Sweden to showcase their forest machinery and allied equipment, wares and services.

We’re pleased that our new expanded fair was received so well. The exhibitors’ demonstrations, the fair’s seminar programme, and the shows and competitions attracted large crowds. The fact that our exhibitors presented so many exciting world premieres bodes well for the future development of forestry. This industry is not standing still concluded Jakob Hirsmark, exhibition manager of Elmia Wood.

Gremo bucked the heavyweight forwarder trend with its new 750F. It shaved 2 tonnes off its 12.5 tonne 1050F. The 750F weighs 10.5 tonnes and loads 8.5 tonnes.

And while inclement weather and Thursday’s traffic mayhem most certainly put a damper on overall visitor numbers that totalled almost 42 000, those that persevered were witness to a dizzying array of new launches, world premieres and disruptive applications proving that forestry as a whole is very much at the cutting edge.

We are pleased that an incredible number of people came to our stand. The rain just scared away people who are not in the industry. Our new products were met with great interest, said Dieter Reinisch, Head of information at John Deere Forestry taking the glass is half full view.

Of course, John Deere was not the only one to launch new forest machines – in short, all the big brands in the professional cut-to-length (CTL) sector had new releases Eco Log, Gremo, Komatsu Forest, Logset, Ponsse, Rottne and Tigercat all showcased new iron.

The number of international visitors has been greater than usual. Our distributors in our export markets have met their customers here. We have also received enquiries from countries where we are not represented, commented Tobias Johansson, the new CEO of Rottne, whose premieres included its new harvester, the Rottne H8D harvester.

With the exception perhaps of Gremo, a notable trend amongst large-scale CTL machinery manufacturers was the ”launch emphasis” on larger machines with Tigercat taking the top spot with its behemoth 1185, a 34-tonne 8-wheeled harvester albeit a prototype.

The new Eco Log 688E harvester.

Other 8-wheeled heavyweight harvesters for the big sticks include Logset’s 12H GTE, interestingly the only manufacturer to utilise hybrid technology and Eco Log’s ”gravity defying” 688E completing its E-Series fitted with Volvo Penta engines. The Eco Log 688E is slightly smaller than its 590 harvester.

Compact forestry machinery for pro’s

On the other end of the scale, Sweden-based Malwa Forest unveiled its new generation 560 harvester whereas colleague Vimek showcased the result of its ”DreamTeam facelift” to better accommodate the professional sector with its range compact forest machines including its 610 SE BioCombi, a forwarder equipped with an energy wood felling head and grapple. The facelift includes moving to new 68 hp (50 kW) stage 3B/4 Cat CRDI engines and Bosch Rexroth hydrostatic transmission.

The new generation Vimek 404SE harvester equipped with new powerful Common Rail engine at 68 Hp Stage 3B/4 Final and a modern hydrostatic transmission from Bosch Rexroth. The steering front axle offers alternative width of the machine (1,80 m or 2,15 m).

Vimek AB is a company and brand within the Swedish forest equipment manufacturer Cranab Group also present at the show with its other brands and products; Cranab cranes, Slagkraft roadside verge cutters and Bracke Forest scarification and planting equipment.

Firing up on forest fuels

For forest fuels, the show packed news too. Apart from a plethora of hand-tools, cut-off saws and log splitters for the cut-it-yourself firewood logger, advances in industrial firewood production could also be found. An example is Finland-headed Ylistaron Terästakomo Oy that showcased its Palax brand range of circular saw and chainsaw firewood processors.

The company also demonstrated its automatic firewood production plant; a Giga log step-feeder paired with a 550 Titan firewood processor. Add to that a Vepak firewood packing unit from Norway-based Vepak AS along with new UV resistant netted bags for Euro-pallets from compatriot Tommen Gram Folie AS and industrial firewood production can be managed by one operator.

The Palax automatic firewood production plant being demonstrated, log in on the left, firewood out to the right.

Biomass boilers for pellets, woodchips and firewood could also be found, though combined heat and power (CHP) solutions from companies such as the Austrian duo Hargassner and Fröling provided perhaps the closest possibility for a forest owner to close the loop to become more or less energy independent.

American biomass beasts

Numerous chippers, grinders and shredders could be found throughout the site, many of which were operated. Both Först and Bandit brands of hand-fed brush chippers were showcased by third-party dealers whereas both Heizomat and Vermeer had hand-fed units on their respective stands.

On the industrial-scale, there were no ”Beasts” from Bandit that was conspicuously absent as was Rotochopper though other US-manufacturers more than adequately filled any void. Morbark, which also has hand-fed chippers though none were on show, displayed its recently unveiled 3400XT Wood Hog tracked grinder.

Peterson Pacific Corp, had both its 2710D tracked horizontal grinder and its new tracked European style 3310 drum chipper. Although the latter made its debut at CONEXPO in Las Vegas earlier this year, the first wood it chipped was in Sweden.

At just under 24-feet long, Peterson Pacific’s 3310 utilises a transverse feed design allowing for a much smaller operations deck than typical drum chippers.

Apart from hand-fed chippers and stump grinders, Vermeer via its Nordic dealers Vermeer Viking demonstrated both its recently launched WC2500TX tracked whole tree chipper and its HG4000 T4 grinder, the latter finding a new home with one of Sweden’s largest independent chipping, shredding and grinding contractors Maskinflisning i Laxå.

A bright idea, a LED light in the drum feed-in of Vermeer’s WC2500TX.

Terex Ecotec, a recently formed division within Terex demonstrated its CBI brand, a truck-mounted ChipMax 484VR chipper and an all-new model, the CBI 6400 tracked grinder straight from the workshop in New Hampshire. Notably, Terex did not showcase any Neuson or Woodsman branded chipping and recycling equipment that belong to the same division.

Truck-mounted and truck like chippers

As expected quite a number of European manufacturers such as Albach, Bruks, Eschlböck, Erjo Doppstadt, Heizomat, Jenz, Kesla, Komptech and Pezzolato had also large chippers and grinders on show whereas Doppstadt and Komptech demonstrated shredders too.

In contrast to US-manufacturers that showcased tracked machinery, truck-mounted was a clear trend amongst European manufacturers and on various truck brands such as MAN, Mercedes, Scania and Volvo whereas Bruks and Erjo were the only companies to showcase forwarder mounted.

Pezzolato’s PTH 1400/820 ALLROAD is an example of an emerging niche on the European market for self-propelled purpose-built chippers.

Also notable was the emergence of several truck-like dedicated chipping units from Albach, Jenz and Pezzolato. This new hybrid class of machinery seems to have moved from concept to taking a commercial hold albeit a very specific niche market.

Loads of logistics

Whilst the logistical capabilities of the organisers were put to the test though in fairness it should also be said that a new traffic plan was hashed out and successfully implemented for the remaining two days of the event, the new Load and Transport section with its theme of logistics and timber handling, was a success.

We’ve had many visitors. Our main target group is industrial customers, and they were here. We operate in an international market, and at our stand international visitors clearly dominated. In that way Elmia Wood is a good match for what we want to achieve at a trade fair, said Carl-Johan Thell, Sales Representative for Liebherr in Sweden.

Both Liebherr and Volvo Construction Equipment showcased wheeled-loaders for forest industries whereas timber haulage trucks from MAN, Tatra and Volvo could be spotted along with allied equipment such as timber bunks and cranes.

We’ve had an excellent stream of visitors to our stand. Our main market is hauliers. A predominant proportion of visitors to our stand came from abroad and there’s been a lot of interest in our products, said Daniel Persson Nyström of ExTe Fabriks AB.

Cameras on the crane and VR goggles in the drivers’ cab have replaced the crane cabin and seat.

No doubt many became interested in automated load securing system after having been to Hiab stand to check out its HiVision crane loading system whereby the crane is operated from the truck drivers cab using virtual reality (VR) technology – if one thought that virtual reality (VR) was just a gadget for training simulators, gamers and geeks then Hiab proved overwhelmingly otherwise, a real eye-opener to the practical possibilities and benefits of VR in timber haulage and beyond.

Drones, data and the Internet of Trees

Another key trend was the various data capture technologies and forecasting services showcased at the show suggesting that it is already possible to track and trace a single tree pre- and post-harvest along value chain until log-breakdown. For instance, new onboard bucking software for harvesters from Dasa Control Systems or the Fovea app that uses photo-optical woodpile measurement, GIS and an ERP system integrated into its forest management system.

This has been a terrific fair. We’ve made contact with high-tech companies we didn’t know existed and met potential partners and customers from around the world said Edna Keane, CEO of Treemetrics.

Treemetrics FitBit for trees provides data on actual growth and thus a real-time response to management regimes. SMHI’s new Timbr service assists forest operations planners and Svensk Skogsdata log-end imagery provide an identity at the point of harvest.

There has been a lot of people and a lot of business done in the Drone Zone. I estimate that two-thirds of our visitors came from outside Sweden, said Urban Wahlberg, CEO of Wabema and coordinator of the Drone Zone.

Drones proving a public magnet at the new “Drone Zone” section.

Drones can be used as carriers for a variety of aerial surveying and measurement technologies including imagery enabling better forest management and land using planning and the new Drone Zone section, where conferences and live testing demonstrated the usability of drones in forestry applications proved a public magnet.

IRL – better than Google

Impressive to have a forestry fair in the middle of the forest. We don’t have anything like this in Japan. There’s a lot to learn here and a lot to take home said Naganori Kiyaoji from Japan.

Who knows, perhaps Kiyaojl took home a laser pointer with a built-in compass from Haglöfs, which ought to be one of the most useful pocket-sized product launches. According to its inventor Mats Balte, few things can cause so much dissent between neighbours as property boundaries. Using Google Maps on a cellphone is likely to just excarberate the situation and to call out the land registry office to resolve a boundary dispute is expensive so the issue just festers.

By simply finding the first boundary marker on the map, two people do the job – one goes first wearing a special vest that makes the laser beam visible at a distance and the other person follows behind holding the instrument and pointing out the direction on the map to find the other markers on the ground.

A fantastic fair, I have been here for two days and it is better than Google. Elmia Wood gives an overview of what’s available for the international forest industry, commented Jan van der Sijde from South Africa.

It’s not difficult to agree. Aside from the inconvenience of inclement weather and frustration over initial traffic issues, Elmia Wood 2017 in real life (IRL) with all the hum and drum of forestry and biomass machinery and equipment in a working forest was by all accounts better than Google.

Come rain or shine – inclement weather during Elmia Wood did little to dampen spirits for exhibitors like Heizomat that showcased a range of woodchip boilers and PTO-chippers. Here Bernd Winter (left), Johan Huss and Nikolaus Eckstein in front of the all new “Heizotruck” that was launched at the show.

Furthermore, the event clearly demonstrated that all across the value-chain, the forestry sector is very much at the cutting edge pushing the boundaries of new technologies and applications.

This article was first published in Bioenergy International no. 4-2017. Note that as a magazine subscriber you get access to the e-magazine and articles like this before the print edition reaches your desk!

Slideshow Elmia Wood 2017

 

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