Mon February 06, 2023
Falcon Forestry Equipment
Logging steep slopes presents safety risks as well as challenges that affect production.
Overcoming both has been a mission for DC Equipment, manufacturer of the Falcon Forestry Equipment (FFE) Falcon Winch Assist, which recently saw completion of its 200th unit with the help of Modern Machinery Inc.
"The 200th is one of a significant number of units DC Equipment has built during the past several years," said Territory Manager Russ Smith, who was instrumental in bringing the Falcon Winch Assist to the Pacific Northwest.
"Customers love the ability it gives them to more productively and safely log steep ground."
Modern Machinery equipped the 200th unit the same as it did with others it has set up, starting with a previously used Komatsu PC290LC excavator. After removing the counterweight and thoroughly inspected the machines, Modern service technicians mount Falcon's winch on the back of the excavator, which gives it approximately the same operating weight as a traditional excavator.
The winch houses approximately 1,640 ft. of 1 1/8-in. swaged rope with nearly 80 tons of breaking strength. The rope runs through rollers on the excavator's main boom and a tension monitor where the boom and arm meet senses the load.
Excavators equipped with the Falcon Winch Assist serve as the "uphill" machine in the mechanization process. They sit stationary with no operator and the bucket is dug into the ground for added stability.
"The PC290 gives us a great base machine to start with because it's stout with plenty of capacity," said Smith. "At the same time, at about 80,000 pounds with the Winch Assist, it's easy to haul."
The Falcon Winch Assist is designed for constant tension and attaches to a log loader, feller buncher, harvester or skidder to allow those "downhill" machines to work on steep slopes where it would be dangerous to operate without cable assist.
A control box and antenna are mounted inside the cab of the excavator for communication with the downhill machine. Operators use the winch to move uphill and downhill, controlling it with foot pedals. Winch mode, tension settings, manual pay out or wind in of rope and emergency stop are controlled via joystick in the harvester. A control screen displays rope tension, length of rope payed out and additional important information.
"We have two locations that build the units and install the controls, and usually put four to five technicians on them," said Modern Machinery Equipment Coordinator Matt Moore. "If they see anything during inspection that needs to be addressed, it's taken care of.
"In addition to the Winch Assist components and the bucket, all are equipped with a thumb. That, along with the bucket, gives customers added versatility because they can use the machine for other tasks as needed."
No Longer Just a Trend
Modern Machinery and DC Equipment representatives say the Winch Assist System increasingly is contributing to the logging industry's change to mechanization and less work done by hand. That's largely being influenced by felling machines and the support of winch assist methods on steeper slopes.
An example of this can be seen in New Zealand (where DC Equipment is based) where mechanization for ground-based felling has increased from 50 to 90 percent between 2009 and 2019. This movement is happening across the globe, including in Modern Machinery's territory.
"It's no longer a trend, but an adoption in the industry because loggers see that it's the most effective and practical method for most steep-slope situation," said Smith. "We are looking forward to building more of these units going forward, and we encourage anyone who does this type of work, or is interested in adding steep-slope logging to contact us for more information."
On Show at Oregon Logging Conference
The newest generation of the Falcon Winch Assist in its fourth evolution (GEN 4) is a clear sign that Falcon Forestry Equipment are all about innovation. With a drive of continuous improvement, the GEN 4 Falcon Winch Assist has seen additional benefits added since the predecessors including the ability to winch for both tracked and wheeled machines via a dual mode winch feature along with an improved swept-back rear design increasing functionality for tight areas such as benched roads.
The latest Falcon Winch Assist machine will be available to see on display at the Oregon Logging Conference held on Feb. 23, 24 and 25 in Eugene, Ore.