Construction Equipment New Zealand

Volvo excavators speeding up forestry operations in New Zealand

ATS Logging Limited owns six Volvo excavators. The excavators’ reliability and efficiency helps the company meet the growing demand for timber in New Zealand.

Forestry is New Zealand’s third biggest export industry, after dairy and meat, accounting for around $5 billion a year, and 3.2% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries in New Zealand. To support the country’s growing forestry industry, ATS Logging Limited is using Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) excavators at three plantation forests across New Zealand. Together, the six excavators are helping the industry to meet its target of $12 billion in forest and wood product exports by 2022, set by the Wood Council of New Zealand.

Exciting but challenging

“Timber harvesting is exciting but challenging. Trees are large and heavy and for cost-effective harvesting, the machines must be able to handle them quickly, efficiently, and safely. Volvo machines do exactly that,” said Toby Satherley, Owner of ATS Logging Ltd.

By 2025, Forest Owners Association in New Zealand is expecting forestry to be the country’s leading export industry, making New Zealand among the top five global suppliers. Currently, most of the timber is harvested from natural forests. As supplies diminish, New Zealand is turning to plantation forests, which occupies about 7% of the land, according to the New Zealand Farm Forestry Association.

Five more years

The six Volvo excavators – EC240BL, FC2924CL, EC250DL, EC300DL, EC380DL, EC290CL – work between nine and 11 hours daily at Bayview, Glenview and Eskdale forests, which are all situated within 30 km from Napier, a coastal city on the North Island. The excavators are expected to remain on site for at least five more years.

Among ATS Logging’s fleet, one of the most important excavators is the EC300DL forestry carrier. With its high and wide under carriage, it cuts down about 200 trees daily. In timber harvesting, processing is a very important step in keeping the tree’s value. This makes the EC300DL vital to Satherley as it processes the fallen tress into about 350 tons of log daily. Equipped with a smart electro-hydraulic system, the EC300DL provides increased power, digging force, faster cycle times and greater control. It is equipped with a Volvo D7 diesel engine that delivers up to 170 kW of power and 11% more fuel efficiency compared with previous models.

Smooth hydraulics

In June 2018, Satherley purchased the EC250DL crawler excavator with the complete forestry package including the newly designed forestry cabin, which offers superior visibility and comfort with very low noise levels. Designed to meet the tough conditions of New Zealand forests, the versatile EC250DL is a master at shovelling and loading. On site, the EC205DL moves an average of about 300 tons of logs and works about nine hours per day.

“I purchased the EC250DL as nothing comes close to Volvo’s smooth and powerful hydraulics that the crew are familiar with,” said Satherley.

Forestry grapple

In 2013, Toby and Amy Satherley of ATS Logging purchased their first Volvo excavator the FC2924CL, which loads logs onto the trucks. This machine was equipped with a live heal and a forestry grapple. Most of these logs (95%) are exported while the remaining 5% are sold domestically.

To help transport these logs, the company relies on the EC240BL to build roads for the trucks and the EC290CL as a back line machine for the log hauler. The long undercarriage provides good stability, making it reliable for use in the tough forest conditions.

Perfect for forestry

The latest addition to Satherley’s fleet is the EC380DL. This is the factory built forestry machine that sits on an EC480DL undercarriage. The forest machine processes up to 500 tons of logs per shift.

“Volvo excavators are perfect for the forest industry. They are safe for both the operations and the environment; and most importantly, cost effective,” Satherley said. “Volvo manufactures brilliant and reliable machines. The deal sweetener is the fact that I can count on the sales agents anytime.”

Established in 2010, ATS Logging Limited focuses primarily on the logging business and has ongoing contracts in forests close to Napier. All the company’s Volvo machines are purchased and serviced via Transdiesel, Volvo CE’s distribution partner which has 16 branches throughout New Zealand.