Dragging timber-filled sledges through a tropical environment, an Indonesian contractor relies on a fleet of Volvo excavators to grapple with 200,000 tons of wood a year.
Sumatra, western Indonesia, is the sixth largest island in the world with a 480,000km2 landmass and a population of 50 million. Its elongated shape measures almost 1,800km from tip-to-tip, giving it a diverse landscape that encompasses mountains, rainforests, swampy plains and even active volcanoes. The island’s third largest city, Pekanbaru, sits on the equator and thanks to its hot and wet climate the area is abundant in Acacia and Eucalyptus trees – a hardwood species that originates from Australia and is a particular favorite of the paper and pulp industry.
Indonesia’s agroforestry sector is improving sustainable logging practices in the Sumatran rainforest and is closely monitored by the Indonesian government and not-for-profit environmental organizations, such as the WWF. Local businesses are encouraged to improve forest management strategies and to plan for a sustainable future.
PT Prima Kas Lestari is a family-run contractor that is owned by Mansudin and his son Nico Jonathan, specializing in felling Acacia and Eucalyptus trees, the company delivers the wood to a mill owned by PT Riau Andalan Paper & Pulp (RAPP), 80km from Pekanbaru.
Mansudin is dedicated to minimizing his company’s impact on the environment, so all of the trees that are cut down are replaced within two weeks – planted by hand to achieve a balanced forest density, biodiversity and good quality wood. While certain species of tree take hundreds of years to grow, the varieties that are planted here can be rotated every six years – and are usually felled when they reach a diameter of 70mm and a height of 10-15m.
The company was founded in 2004 and has expanded from a log transporter into tree felling and forest management, operating at various sites in and around Pekanbaru. In total, Prima Kas Lestari has 100 employees, including 60 machine operators and 10 on-site technicians. At one of its 35-hectare operations, the company uses a fleet of six Volvo EC140 BLC excavators. “To meet the demand we need reliable, good quality machinery – something the Volvo brand is known for,” says Mansudin.
At the plantation, the trees are felled using handheld chainsaws, and cut to size (usually 2m in length) using a harvesting head. Then, the Volvo excavators are unleashed to collect the logs from across the site and transfer them onto a sledge – a local innovation that keeps the logs in a tidy pile and can be dragged across the bumpy terrain, reducing the time taken to clear the area. When the sledge is full, the excavator pulls it to the transporter-truck loading area – on more even ground – where it uses its log grapple to move around 30 tons of wood in just 15 minutes.
The Volvo EC140 BLC hydraulic excavator features a Stage III Volvo D4 diesel engine with high torque, even at low revs, for fast and powerful ground clearing. It combines a high lifting capacity with a stable undercarriage to safely transfer the long logs onto transporter trucks and delivers higher fuel efficiency and uptime, even in tough operating conditions such as the unstable terrain of the Sumatran jungle.
“I have always been aware of Volvo machines’ quality – but what really stood out to me was the excellent back-up support they offer,” says Mansudin. “So far the fleet has clocked up 10 hours a day for six months and they are all still going strong with minimum downtime. But if a problem does arise, our local dealer sends a technician to the site within six hours – which is impressive bearing in mind the remote locations our sites tend to be in.”
PT Indotruck Utama (ITU), a subsidiary of Indomobil Group, was established in 1988, and is now one of the largest distributors of heavy equipment in Indonesia. As the only authorized Volvo CE dealer for Sumatra, Java, Bali, Nusa Tenggara and Papua, ITU has strategically located sales, service and spare parts premises close to its customers in order to deliver fast, effective support.
In Pekanbaru, the tropical climate means that operations must cease during the three-month rainy season. Mansudin says: “When the ground gets too wet, we have to stop work. So, when the rainy season ends, it’s vital that our machines are up and running straight away so that we can make up for lost time. That’s why we rely on ITU’s support to maintain our machines well.”
Pekanbaru’s paper and pulp market is forecast to grow by 5% during 2015 due to increasing global demand and a rise in paper consumption, especially in China. “We have faced a period of uncertainty in the industry with the change of government and a slowdown in the economy, so this news couldn’t come at a better time,” says Mansudin. “If business continues to go well, we’ll add more EC140 BLCs to our fleet in the future. The machines are a good investment for us, offering lower fuel consumption.”
Mark Gabel, managing director at PT Volvo Indonesia, adds: “Sales of Volvo Construction Equipment machinery into the agroforestry sector have almost doubled in the past year, accounting for more than a fifth of our sales. We’re delighted that businesses in this segment are recognizing the benefits of our machines in terms of the quality and aftermarket care we offer with the help of our dealers in Indonesia – and we hope to see this trend continue.”
Picture 1 : Moving around 30 tons of wood in just 15 minutes.
Picture 2 : Replanting trees by hand for the best growth
Picture 3 : Grappling with wood