FFR Steep Slope Harvesting Update

The Steep Slope Harvesting program supported by the Primary Growth Partnership continues to make good progress. The Beta prototype of the Trinder steep slope harvester, named the Climb Max is now operational on steep slopes in the Nelson area and productivity trials are planned for June. A North Island contractor has already ordered one of these new machines and following further planned enhancements of the winch hydraulic system this is expected to be Trinder Engineers commercial version.

Another project that has been completed is the development of a simple grapple constraint device and an off the shelf vision system for grapple hauler operations is at the commercialisation stage. Both are aimed at improving the productivity of grapple extraction systems on steep slopes.

A new project recently added to the Steep Slope Harvesting project is the evaluation of a South African designed and built grapple carriage powered by a hydraulic accumulator that is charged up as the grapple moves down the skyline. The grapple is much lighter than a conventional motorised carriage at less than 1,000kg.

The tele-operation component of the program, a more forward looking part of the steep slope harvesting project, is now well underway with the first of the two PhD students being engaged at Canterbury University Mechatronics Department. This project is being undertaken in conjunction with Scion and Trinder Engineers and is a good example of the collaboration between providers with different skill sets that is developing in this programme to deliver the best outcomes for the industry.