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Machine Upkeep Archive: It’s Time To Winterize

Deere-winter

By: Diego Navarro, Aftermarket Sales Manager, John Deere Forestry

Southern loggers and their equipment may not have to cope with the brutally harsh winter conditions faced by their Northern counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they can ignore colder weather challenges. Here are a few simple steps every logger can take to help ensure uninterrupted productivity as the temperature drops.

Change to a lighter-weight engine oil. Most forestry equipment manufacturers recommend switching from heavier 15w40 to lighter 10w30 for winter operation. The lighter oil makes morning starts easier, reducing the load on batteries. It also flows more quickly and smoothly through cold engines to better accomplish its engine-protecting mission.

Check engine coolants. For winter conditions in most of the region’s forests, a glycol concentration of 50% is more than sufficient, protecting against coolant freezing down to -30ºF. Test-strip kits make this check easy, even in the field. If the glycol concentration is low, add glycol to your cooling system until the concentration reaches the desired level. If the cooling system is full, you will need to drain some coolant before adding glycol.

Also test for the proper level of coolant additives, which protect the cooling system against corrosion and cavitation. Separate test strips are available for additive testing. If the additive concentration is low, add the concentrated coolant additive specified in your owner’s manual.

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American Loggers Council Holds Annual Meeting In Mississippi

DK Knight (right) with Gerry and Capella Ikola.

DK Knight (right) with Gerry and Capella Ikola.

By: David Abbott, Managing Editor of Southern Loggin’ Times magazine

The American Loggers Council held its 23rd Annual Meeting on September 28-30 in Natchez, Miss. As it does every fall, the ALC meets in the home state of the outgoing President, in this case Mississippi logger Ken Martin. ALC Presidents serve single year terms. Along with voting on many issues of great significance to the industry, attendees at the event have the opportunity to network with their peers from throughout the country.

Among the activities was a visit to the job site of a local logger. This year, the group toured operations of Chip Sullivan’s BLC Logging, based in Tallulah, La. What made the job particularly interesting was its location: on Davis Island in the Mississippi River, right on the line between Mississippi and Louisiana. The island has a lot of history: it was once owned by the family of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

After educational/technical seminars Friday and an auction Friday night, the ALC Executive Committee met on Saturday morning, followed by a meeting of all members present. Later, at a Saturday luncheon, several individuals and companies were singled out and honored for their support of the ALC and of the industry. Among these, DK Knight, the Co-Publisher and Executive Editor of Hatton-Brown Publishers, parent company of both Southern Loggin’ Times and Timber Harvesting, was recognized for his 50 years as an advocate for loggers.

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Regular Meetings Help Harness The Power Of Clear Communication

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From the ‘People Power’ column in Timber Harvesting magazine
Written By: Wendy Farrand, Owner of WFarrand Consulting

“What’s the big deal? You come to work, you get the wood out, and you go home.”

Those were the exact words of an old-time logger I worked with who was totally perplexed about the need for regular meetings in the woods. Smaller crews may be able to skirt the regular meeting recommendation, but if you are a leader, and you are not holding regular structured meetings, your crew isn’t as effective, productive or as safe as they could be, no matter what size it is.

I believe that with all my heart. Things may be flowing smoothly, but without the opportunity to regularly share, set expectations and hold people accountable, you will feel the impact somewhere down the road.

Strong, clear communication is key, and not just for communication’s sake, but for the sake of a lot of other things as well, including safety, accountability, raising the bar, setting goals, motivation, team building, squelching negativity, and education.

As a leader, contractor or supervisor, it is your responsibility to bring your crews together on a regular basis to build a strong structure in which the wood can flow. Ideally, this is a structure of respect created by the professionalism that you demand from the professionals that work for you.

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Keep Trucking Safety Awareness High

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By: J.J. Lemire, Director Of Loss Control, Forestry Mutual Insurance Company

Data compiled by the Federal Highway Safety Administration reveal that speed and driver distractions are the two main causes of truck accidents. Issues such as cell phone or CB radio use, becoming sleepy from long hauls, along with boredom, are main contributors. The driver has direct control of both speed and distraction factors. If you work to control them chances are good that you’ll make it home to family and friends, but do nothing and you could become a statistic for us to talk about.

Sometimes external sources or hazards beyond your control contribute or cause these accidents. How often have you seen another driver race to get in front of the truck because they did not want to be stuck behind the tractor and trailer? You do not have control over bad drivers, but always remain alert and be on the lookout for situations that can lead to an accident. Look ahead and constantly scan!

If you keep the truck and trailer on the pavement, you lessen the chance of rollovers from soft shoulders or sudden weight shifts. Let’s consider some simple ideas on how to keep safety awareness at a high level.

Animals on the road. Do not try to swerve suddenly to avoid them, as the center of gravity can move and cause rollovers.

Fog and heavy rain. Slow down when visibility is not good. These conditions reduce the distance you can see in front of you.

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Machine Upkeep Archive: AC Care

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Machine Upkeep articles are taken from the archives of Southern Loggin’ Times.

By: Barry O’Leary, Technical Support Specialist, Caterpillar Forest Products

Now is the time to make sure the air conditioning systems in your equipment are ready for the long, hot summer. Here are tips on what to check and how to maintain the AC.

Air Filters—Clean air filters are the most important aspect of keep­ing AC in working order. Cab fresh air and recirculation filters are designed to provide clean air to the system and keep the cab pressurized. Clogged filters reduce airflow to the operator and reduce cab pressurization, which allows dirt to infiltrate the cab. If filters are not properly maintained, the evaporator coil will be coated with dirt, retarding cooling.

Filters should be inspected daily. Intervals for cleaning or replacing air filters depend on the severity of the application and the environment. If conditions are extremely dusty, filters might need to be cleaned/replaced daily; weekly intervals might be sufficient. In addition to inspecting filters for dirt, look through the filter toward a bright light to check for holes. Check for damaged gaskets or dented metal; toss damaged filters.

Replacing filters is preferable to cleaning them. The filter’s efficiency is reduced every time it is cleaned. However, if you choose to clean, you can remove loose dirt with compressed air. Do not exceed 100 PSI from an air nozzle that is 0.125 in. in diameter. Keep the air nozzle at least 2 in. from the filter.

The fresh air filter should be replaced at least two or three times a year, or when damaged or so caked with dirt that it cannot be cleaned. Recirculation filters are foam and can be blown out with low-pressure air and also may be gently washed with a mild detergent. After washing filters, dry with low-pressure air.

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Building Blocks: A Silent Partner That’s Truthful About Your Business Performance

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From the Building Blocks column in the May/June issue of Timber Harvesting magazine.

There are a lot of moving parts involved in running any type of business, but this is especially true in logging. You make big investments in equipment and in training and retaining good operators. You carry insurance, incur big fuel bills, fork over a lot for repairs, may be involved in trucking, and sometimes may lose sleep at night trying to keep track of it all.

Given all these moving parts, how can you keep accurate track of everything so you can run a profitable operation?

To succeed you need well-maintained equipment, follow productive harvesting and hauling methods, and rely on competent, dedicated employees. But there is one not-so-obvious asset critical to financial success: a well-designed software system to track core business information such as job type and characteristics, compensation, load tickets and time sheets. A good software system is like a good business partner—you come to rely on it to tell you the unvarnished truth about how your business is doing and where you need to improve.

General accounting package such as QuickBooks or Sage 50 are great for the big picture tracking of revenues and costs, but are not designed to incorporate the detailed information that an astute logger needs to understand business economics. Nor do they provide the checks and balances needed for ensuring that you are paid for all the wood you harvest.

Managers at Hadaller Logging in Kelso, Wash. understand just how valuable it is to have an industry-specific software tool to supplement an accounting package. They adopted Caribou Software’s Logger’s Edge system four years ago, primarily with the objective of tracking weekly production and paying truckers, but they have come to rely on Logger’s Edge for much more.

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Use All Tools Available To Help Control Trucking

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By: Nick Carter, Agency Manager, Forestry Mutual Insurance Company

Not a day goes by that I do not receive a call about some company’s commercial auto premiums increasing. This cycle starts with the logger or log trucker who is experiencing the pain of his operating cost falling into negative territory. Comments I hear include: “I cannot find acceptable drivers,” “I cannot find reliable contractors,” or “My insurance costs are driving me out of business.”

Timber is not purchased at $20/ton and sold to mills for $15/ton. It is simple math. Losses, lawsuits, medical and underinsured/uninsured motorist costs are pushing premiums out of control. Once a claim occurs these costs escalate very quickly and the insurance company has to pay.

Commercial auto carriers are steering away from writing all types of truck insurance. Companies such as AIG, Zurich and Progressive are just a few examples. Carriers will continue to withdraw until the market is profitable. No business should continue to operate with excessive losses year after year.

What is driving these costs and frequencies upward?

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Machine Upkeep Archive: Analyze, Then Repair

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Machine Upkeep articles are taken from the archives of Southern Loggin’ Times.

By: Barry O’Leary, Technical Support Specialist, Caterpillar Forest Products

When a machine fails, the result is downtime and repair costs. Making a repair, without analyzing the cause, can result in further costs. Avoid this by following eight steps to gather the facts, determine a sequence of events and then identify and correct the root cause.

State problem—The problem should be stated in a clear, concise manner in two parts: the failed components and symptoms.

Symptoms observed in the component may include fractures, unusual wear or deformation. Note other symptoms that may be related, such as unusual noise or odor, vibration or loss of power. Take care not to state the problem too broadly or too narrowly. Here’s an example of what can happen with a too narrow approach: An operator detected low power, black exhaust smoke and no turbocharger “whistle.” He concluded the turbo was bad and replaced it, but the symptoms persisted. The problem turned out to be a bird’s nest in the air inlet pipe.

Organize fact gathering—An organized analysis will include a list of conditions that could have led to the observed symptoms and failure. Don’t let preconceptions mislead you. If engine bearings get hot and seize, it is reasonable to suspect low oil. However, the problem could be a failed oil pump, for example. Basic equipment for fact-finding should include a flashlight, camera, magnifying glass and filter cutter.

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FET, JM Wood Auction Announce Partnership

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ForesTree Equipment Trader (FET), the premier online platform for buying and selling quality pre-owned forestry equipment and more, is now partnering with JM Wood Auction Co., the South’s leader in pre-owned forestry equipment auctions and appraisals.

JM Wood is providing auction results data for all forestry equipment it sells to FET, which is posting the data on its web site, ForesTreeTrader.com Auction results are accessible in several ways, including as a database searchable by such criteria as year, make, model and selling price range.

“We are really excited about our partnership with ForesTree Equipment Trader,” says JM Wood President Bryant Wood. “The people at Hatton-Brown have always been committed to promoting our industry and we look forward to working closer with them going forward.”

Hatton-Brown owns FET, along with several trade magazines, including Southern Loggin’ Times and Timber Harvesting.

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Machine Upkeep Archive: Maintaining Logging Roads

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Machine Upkeep articles are taken from the archives of Southern Loggin’ Times.

By: Cliff Caudill, Product Marketing Manager, John Deere

You probably know that there are a couple of reality shows on TV about logging. If you have seen the shows, then you probably remember chuckling (or sympathizing) during episodes where a trucker—usually a rookie—gets a full load bogged down in a poorly maintained section of logging road. Of course, this is followed by many bleeped-out profanities.

But rookie or not, anyone who has worked in the woods knows how important a properly maintained logging road is, or how life-threatening a poorly maintained one can be. Ignoring road maintenance means you are heading down a path that will require road reconstruction. Here is something to ponder: An estimate of typical costs (not site specific) for road grading is approximately $300 to $2,500 per mile, while clearing an area for a new road can cost upwards of $4,000 to $7,000 per mile. By following a proper road maintenance regime you can conserve cash flow and minimize damage to local water and soil resources.

Your first step is to get a detailed maintenance plan in place. Know your land and road systems. Get out a topographical map of your property or aerial photos, if possible. Ask yourself: How many miles of road do I currently manage? Where are the culverts, bridges, streams and steeper terrain? Have an employee drive around the property to assess trouble areas, i.e., places susceptible to slump, or places where water drainage has obviously had an impact. This type of assessment could be done on a monthly basis to ensure action is taken before the problem becomes an expensive one. If possible, you should inspect roads and culverts around current cutting operations more frequently. Sometimes the maintenance is as simple as getting out a shovel and clearing a blocked culvert and other times the required action may be to bring in a motor grader.

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