BTB 46: WHEN YOU’RE ON A GOOD THING, STICK TO IT

This article originally appeared in Australian Forests & Timber News, May 2017. Reprinted in part with permission.

Remember that advertising catchphrase … when you’re on a good thing, stick to it! Well, after gathering material for this story that seems to be the perfect way to sum up how some contractors feel about Tigercat forestry machines.

First off the rank was Fennell Forestry Pty Ltd, a family owned business which is based in Mount Gambier in South Australia and runs a highly successful infield chipping operation, 24-hour timber haulage operations, plus clear fell large pine operations. This business was established in 1991 by Graham and Val Fennell and Ronnie Nilsson. Though it started small, it has since grown into a major plantation hardwood and softwood harvester and transporter. The company, which employs about 75 staff, is still managed by members of the Fennell family. Barry Fennell, executive director and sister Wendy Fennell, managing director at Fennell Forestry, have been a part of the business almost since its inception, so when you seek an opinion from them you know it’s backed by experience.

Actually, Fennell Forestry took delivery of the very first Tigercat 1085C (25-tonne) forwarder to be sold in Australia. The massive Tigercat 1085C shares some similar componentry with its cousin the Tigercat 1075C but boasts a superior Tigercat manufactured driveline incorporating significantly stronger bogies and transmission to allow a higher payload.

“The new Tigercat 1085C was commissioned into our clear fell softwood operation at the start of February 2017, as a replacement for an existing forwarder,” said Wendy. “Traditionally we operated Timberpro 840 forwarders in our clear fell operations, which have served us well as far as production went. The decision to change this was driven by operator comfort, maintenance costs and service/parts support.”

Tigercat 1085C forwarder in Fennell Forestry operations.

Tigercat 1085C forwarder in Fennell Forestry operations.

“It’s still early days with the forwarder only having 750 hours on the clock, however figures are indicating lower running costs. Operator acceptance of the machine has been positive with operators commenting on how comfortable the machine is to operate. Visibility from the cab as well as the addition of the slope bunk enables the operator a clear line of sight on the work zone,” she said. “Serviceability is good, all pumps, valve banks and engine bay is easily accessible. The cabin is spacious, enabling good ergonomics for the operator. The innovative sloped bunk with its larger capacity allows greater loads, whilst having butts all one way, combined with the safety of a lower centre of gravity.”

“Generally, the standout points of the latest machine – fuel efficiency, operator comfort, and serviceability,” said Wendy. “Sales and service from Onetrak (Onetrak Mt Gambier) provide us with superior support and service. They have a comprehensive knowledge of the Tigercat machines, combined with the understanding of their customers operational demands which means they are a valuable partner.” Fennell Forestry currently has eight Tigercat machines consisting of feller bunchers, skidders, harvesters and the forwarder.

From down south to up north, the Imbil, Queensland based family operated business GMT Logging has been operational for decades. GMT also has a close relationship with Tigercat as general manager Adan Taylor (also Chairman of the Australian Forest Contractors Association) explains. “We purchased a 1075C forwarder last November. Actually, we’ve been buying the 1075 size forwarders for quite some time. This is our fourth. Basically, we bought it because we recently won a tender for a new export contract, and needed to establish another crew to carry out the work and the 1075C was the newest model forwarder on offer from Tigercat. Joining the new 1075C is a new Tigercat LS855C set up with a feller-director boom and Tigercat’s 5195 felling head.

“This [1075C] came with the sloping bunks and fixed headboard and the [hooked] banana boom. We had seen it at AUSTimber and were aware of the new design because we had been to Canada in October and seen the new model over there,” Adan said. “We’re pretty happy with it. The sloping bunks, headboard and boom are well set up. It works quite well. There haven’t been a lot of changes in the cabin … a few little things to make it more comfortable,” he added. “We love our Tigercat forwarders, as they are a good and reliable workhorse all round, solidly built, efficient and comfortable to operate.

“We’ve had a long relationship with Onetrak. We’re very happy with their service and back-up. This is a major reason why we keep buying their machines. They’re also very well built machines.”

Back down south again to K.C. & M.R. Boult’s operations in the Mount Gambier region of South Australia. The company has recently purchased its third Tigercat H822C harvester after formerly being aligned with a competitor. “These new Tigercat H822C units are working in the Mount Gambier region of SA in pine thinnings. The machines are frequently double shifted and work with a high level of availability,” explained Gerard Boult, harvesting manager.

That’s vastly different to when the forestry business was kicked off. K.C. & M.R. Boult was formed in 1976 by Kevin and Margaret Boult, starting out with one truck, a White 4000, and a home-built NRM Mack Forwarder carting off pine fallers.

Boult’s third Tigercat H822C harvester

Boult’s third Tigercat H822C harvester.

“Today, we run ten harvesters, six forwarders and fifteen B Doubles. Three of those harvesters are H822C Tigercats running a double shift in T1 operations. With work picking up around 2014 and in need of a thinning machine, we looked at what purpose-built machines were available,” said Gerard. “Onetrak had one in stock in Dandenong and we also looked at an 855C they had in Mount Gambier at the time. Looking at the build quality, I made the decision to purchase our first Tigercat. Onetrak moved to Mount Gambier twelve months later and the second H822C was purchased. With a move from hardwood to all softwood, a hardwood machine was traded on our third H822C in January 2017.

“Our first H822C has clocked up 10,000 hours and that’s inside three years. They have proven their reliability in that time. All three machines are identical which is ideal for maintenance planning and operators being familiar with our machines.”

And there’s another underlying factor behind the Boult move to Tigercat. “Having the dealer support in town has been important to us led by Jotham Allright,” said Gerard.

Related Articles