When less is more, more is more and more is less – more-or-less
Over 20 400 forestry interested souls got some fresh air, a new tan and fresh input from the around 300 exhibitors during the recently concluded SkogsElmia 2019, a forestry tradeshow that was held on the Bratteborg Estate about 30 km south of Jönköping, Sweden. Focused on forest ownership, it could be summed up by saying less is more, more is more and more is less.
All things considered, it is a good inning and something that the all-new management team at Elmia ought to be pleased with, not least because it provides a solid platform from which to build Elmia Wood 2021 on. The “how, what, why and who” are of course issues for the said team to do battle with whereas the “when and where” has already been decided – May 18-21, 2021 at the Bratteborg Estate.
For Elmia forest show veterans, the when is of significance as clashing date-wise with LIGNA in Hannover, Germany is, well, unwise. Doing both tradeshows – LIGNA first followed by Elmia the week after – is an option, albeit a tough one, that quite a number of exhibitors with firewood processors, mobile sawmilling and other allied equipment do. Likewise for a number of visitors especially international long-haul travellers that tend to make it a 10-day fact-finding mission.
Dinky toys for hunters and DIY forest owners, not for forestry pro’s or big sticks contractors some may scoff. True to a degree but Discovery Channel’s portrayal of forestry contractor pro’s at work in the US south in its “Swamp wood logging” series a few years back is perhaps one reason why landowners are wary of allowing big and heavy machinery into their woods with operators that have mistaken it for a playground.
In its defense, the series was a reality TV show and Discovery Channel has had other forestry contractor and haulage series from other regions in North America depicting a better nuanced more work less play. Nonetheless, the point is that reality shows such as these tend to amplify existing biases. So for clarity, not all swamp wood loggers or swamp wood machinery operators are mavericks.
ATV’s have become full grown workhorses
Two decades ago – ATV’s and small-scale equipment displayed and demonstrated at SkogsElmia 99 were perhaps “dinky toys” but much has happened since. ATV’s, 6-and 8-wheelers have become robust, cost-effective and indispensable carriers for a plethora of tools, equipment, and accessories for almost every kind of land-based business – the mini-tractor of the farm, garden, municipality or golf course.
Speaking of professional tractors, Finland-headed Valtra via its Swedish dealers Lantmännen Maskin AB premiered a forest version of its new High Tech 4 tractor. Kitted with belly plates, a steel fuel tank instead of a plastic one, lamp guards, rear window grommet to run the crane cables into the cab, and diagonal tyres that are stronger than radial ones, it comes with a new power shift with 16 electric gears instead of a mechanical 12-speed gearbox.
With SkogsElmia 2019, tractor competition in the Nordics just got that bit tougher as compatriot Swedish forest and agricultural machinery dealers, Rosenqvist Maskin AB, premiered Pm Trac III from Germany-headed Pfanzelt Maschinenbau, a specialist utility tractor builder using Fendt as a base.
According to Maria Rosenqvist, the Pm Trac III is optimized for combined service in agriculture and forestry and landscape management with quick and flexible adaptation to different tasks and fills a gap in the Swedish market. The vehicle frame is designed from the outset for forestry applications and the new front axle, with hydraulic suspension and automatic immobilization, also forms an integral part of the new chassis.
Large-scale chippers, grinders, and shredders
Rosenkvist Maskin also has Kesla and Pezzolato woodchippers in their agency portfolio both of which were showcased. Indeed the chipping, grinding and shredding field was anything but dinky toys.
For US-headed Bandit Industries, it marked the Beast is back – a relaunch of its presence at an Elmia forestry tradeshow. Present on two stands, one being the tree-care section with hand-fed chippers and stump grinders along with a custom Mustang visitor magnet.
The second stand was the demo stand with a mid-sized tracked 3680 XP Beast with self-loading. The 3680 XP is available in a variety of engine types but when it comes to diesel, the engines come from Volvo Penta because they are “powerful and reliable” as Dean Ashton from Bandit put it.
The Beast machine series comes in several sizes and models, with engines from 300 to 1 200 hp and what differs it from most other similar machines is that it has two functions: chipping and grinding. As a chipper, it is designed to produce fuel chips; as a horizontal grinder, it fragments pallets, construction and demolition (C&D) wood, and other waste.
Morbark, a US colleague down the road at home in Michigan and at SkogsElmia, was showcased by the new dealer for Sweden – Allan Bruks AB (ABAB). Those in the know will recognise both the name and face of Anders Bruks as prior to the Terex acquisition of Continental Biomass Industries (CBI), ABAB represented CBI in the Nordic region.
SkogsElmia 2019 was the first tradeshow that ABAB showcased Morbark products with assistance from the European representatives, Netherlands-based Stoevelaar Recycling and staff from Morbark Inc.
On display and demoed was the new Wood Hog 3400X tracked horizontal grinder and new Chiparvestor 30RXL mobile disc chipper both of which were displayed, but not demoed, at LIGNA.
Not at LIGNA but at SkogsElmia was OP Erjo with a truck-mounted Erjo chipper. Some may recall that OP Group acquired chipper maker Erjo back in August 2016 and subsequently exhibited at Elmia Wood 2017. At SkogsElmia 2019, the company demonstrated its new truck-mounted chipper Erjo 9/93B LR.
The ERJO 9/93B LR is equipped with OP Teknik’s new “load-assistant system” – 3D OP-RATOR, which OP says makes it possible to remotely control the crane using a camera-based 3D technology. Interesting is that OP Group also represents Germany-headed Doppstadt in Sweden but kept a low profile with the orange coloured brand. Come to think of it Doppstadt were not at LIGNA either.
On the forestry machinery side, there were several professional small-scale manufacturers like Malwa. A new-old idea was showcased by Finland headed Usewood Oy, the “harwarder” – a combined harvester and forwarder – machine.
Usewood was not alone, with this idea at SkogsElmia. Sweden-based Vimek AB, now part of Italian majors Fassi Group, hosted a world premiere for the Vimek 404 DUO. Basically, it is Vimek’s proven harvester, the 404 SE, which has been equipped with a power take-off and a powered forwarder trailer.
The concept is that the trailer is first parked and then the machine begins by functioning as an ordinary harvester. Then the trailer is attached and the harvester head is replaced with a grapple. The time to switch from one function to the other is about 15 minutes. According to Stefan Asp of Vimek, the response has been tremendous with the entire planned 2019 production of the 404 DUO already sold.
Compatriot Hypro AB is known for its tractor-mounted processors but at SkogsElmia, the company presented a complete machine system, consisting of a control and measuring system that serves both an advanced timber trailer and a trailer with a two-grip harvester head. Just swap out the trailers and your agricultural tractor switches from a forwarder to a harvester.
Not all agree that combi-machines are the best solution. Compatriot machinery manufacturer Kranman AB had previously developed a hybrid machine but came to the conclusion that using two machines – a harvester and a forwarder – works better. At SkogsElmia the company launched what it says is the world’s first harvester for woodlot owners who actively manage their forest holdings – a new harvester for the cost of a used professional harvester that has gone hard at it for 14 000 hours.
According to Magnus Johansson, who helped design new harvester, the idea is to make a simple, stable machine that starts and does its job when you go out on the weekend to do some thinning. The newly developed crane is equipped with parallel linkage, and the Jobo harvester head is customised to Kranman’s specifications so that it can handle trees with up to 30 cm butt diametre and includes a basic measurement and control system that keeps tabs on diameters and lengths.
Less is more, more is more while more is less, simultaneously
Everything reported thus far is bound to have certain environmental non-governmental organisations (ENGO’s) readying campaigns and demonstrations against what is undoubtedly perceived by them as an orgy of slaughter on carbon sinks and wildlife habitat that are forests.
What has not been mentioned yet are the drones, software and big data technologies referred to in the preview. These will be covered elsewhere but suffice to say that the convergence of people, technologies and market opportunities in the right place at the right time is at the very least disruptive but potentially revolutionary when it comes to how data is captured, aggregated, stored and shared in a digital infrastructure along the forest to final product value chain.
As noted during a panel discussion on bioenergy, also held as part of SkogsElmia, forest-based bioenergy, in particular, is perceived as being too complicated by the broad general public. It is after all full of paradoxes and seeming contradictions.
The forest to the market ecosystem and value-chain is a system with many interdependent components – yet a commercial working forest tree has essentially only three value outcomes once felled: sawlog, veneer/peeler log, pole or other higher value; pulpwood or board; and finally energy which is almost always the lowest value.
Depending on a range of factors such as species, diametre, quality, age, taper, bow, butt flare, length to lowest branch or knot whorl, knot size to mention a few, log(s) from the felled tree will fall into at least one if not all categories.
Logs from a thinned or harvested stand will generate certain volumes of these assortments and it is in the interest of the forest owner to implement management regimes that generate volumes of value – thinning is one such operation where less is more. Fewer stems per hectare mean better quality and larger volume per ha in the remaining stand. Typically thinning will yield small-diametre sawlogs, pulpwood and/or energy wood depending on if it is pre-commercial or final thinning.
Another example also highlighted during the seminar is the recent interest in mass timber construction with engineered mass timber products such as glulam (glue laminated) beams, cross-laminated timber (CLT) and other wood dense methods. Here more is more, more sawn wood is needed to produce these solid wood products requiring more trees from working forests to be cut.
This goes against the grain when it comes to resource efficiency – use as little as possible – as well as giving rise to more residues, in the forest and at the sawmill, available for bioenergy and biomass fuel purposes eg. sawdust for wood pellets. However, the more solid wood used in construction means more carbon dioxide (CO2) is locked in the short to medium term while less non-renewable fossil fuels – and geologically derived products (eg concrete) are used.
Therein lies the biggest challenge – to make the forest’s many possibilities and uses comprehensible to politicians, the media and the general public, so that bio-based materials, products, chemicals, and fuels can make inroads into the market. Understanding the fundamental difference between the carbon cycle domains and that it is the carbon transfer, from slow to fast in IPCC terms or from fossil-geological to biogenic, is what is behind the anthropogenic CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere would go a long way.
Slideshow from SkogsElmia in Sweden, June 2019