BTB 36: E&R Langille Believes in Tigercat TH575

BTB reported on the operations of Nova Scotia based E&R Langille Contracting Ltd. back in 2008, not long after the company purchased, sight unseen, the third ever TH575 harvesting head to be produced by Tigercat.
One of the new H855C harvesters. E&R Langille now operates four TH575 heads.

One of the new H855C harvesters. E&R Langille now operates four TH575 heads.

Six years later BTB checks in with the Langille family once again.

The Nova Scotia government announced in July, 2013 that it would ban full-tree harvesting provincewide. Harvesting company, E&R Langille was well positioned for this inevitable outcome, having years of experience with the cut-to-length model. The company, established in 1981, is owned by brothers, Ron, Darren and Craig Langille. Ron is responsible for the harvesting operations. Craig runs the company’s two wood yards and Darren is in charge of equipment fleet service. Shop facilities and service capabilities are top notch, allowing the company to run its fleet of predominantly Tigercat branded machines productively at very high hours. All new Tigercat machines are sold and serviced by Wajax.

Craig, Darren and Ron Langille out front of the shop in New Glasgow.

Craig, Darren and Ron Langille out front of the shop in New Glasgow.

The Langilles have been quite proactive in their attempts to ensure the viability of the chipping operations. The company has developed two wood yards to centralize the chipping function. One is located at Mt William near New Glasgow where the company is headquartered and the second at the Strait of Canso, the gateway to Cape Breton Island.

Ron explains that they used to do infield chipping but “We went to the yard model because the block sizes got too small and also because of poor roads, trucking bottlenecks and too much moving from site to site. On bigger cut blocks, we were even moving too much within the blocks.” Ron goes on to say that the yards improve chipper productivity and utilization while reducing costs. Everything except stud wood, which is transported directly to the sawmill, flows through the Mt William yard. At Port Hawkesbury, 300 000 tonnes of biomass logs are inventoried and dried at the yard, chipped and finally transported to the local co-gen facility owned by Nova Scotia Power.

The 60,000 hour plus H860 harvester still produces reliably every day.

The 60,000 hour plus H860 harvester still produces reliably every day.

The harvesting systems

The Langilles have had excellent results with their first Tigercat TH575 head, citing strength and durability as well as multi-stemming capability as the primary advantages. “It has been very reliable,” says Ron. The first unit has over 21,000 operating hours.

The brothers have experience with other brands, having run the Waratah 622C and the Log Max 750. Ron and Darren say that the TH575 has higher uptime than the others and longer life. On the strength of this experience, the Langilles purchased two new H855C carriers equipped with TH575 heads in June 2013. These machines are currently working in mixed hardwood forests in Cape Breton cutting eight foot logs and random length pulp and fuel wood for the Port Hawkesbury paper mill and the neighbouring power generation plant.

Operator, Brett Smith, ran the H860 for most of its life. Now he is operating one of the new H855C units.

Operator, Brett Smith, ran the H860 for most of its life. Now he is operating one of the new H855C units.

The processors achieve average production of 16 tonnes per hour in challenging timber. (The trees are typically crooked and limby and average piece size is at the low end of the scale.) The machines are double shifted, working about 90 hours per week. The Port Hawkesbury system is comprised of one Tigercat feller buncher, two Tigercat H855C processors and an 18-tonne forwarder along with two 14-tonne back-up forwarders. Ron comments that the company is fortunate to have many highly experienced processor operators, although he laments that most of them are in their mid-fifties. “There is a crisis situation for the forest industry in general. There is just not enough young people [coming into the industry].”

Aside from the H855C/TH575 combination, the company also operates aging Tigercat H860 carriers with Hornet attachments following Tigercat feller bunchers to supply the Mt William yard for a Northern Pulp chip contract. The oldest machine, purchased in January 1999, had 62,000 hours on the clock as of December, 2013. Incredibly, the Tigercat- Hornet package still achieves 80-85% availability including servicing and operator breaks and achieves 10-12 tonnes per hour, again in very small timber. The current operator, Todd Hillier replaced Brett Smith who ran the machine for most of its life. (Brett is now operating one of the new H855C units in Cape Breton.) The Langilles also added an H855C/TH575 to the Northern Pulp operation, purchasing the machine in December 2013. In addition, they purchased a Tigercat 845C with a 5400 saw and high rotation wrist in October, choosing the R7-150-2 undercarriage for the extra durability of the FH400 components and the longer track frames.

The Langille brothers cite multi-stemming ability and overall durability as major advantages of the TH575.

The Langille brothers cite multi-stemming ability and overall durability as major advantages of the TH575.

There are two chippers in the Mt William yard working two ten-hour shifts per day producing pulp chips, and one in Port Hawkesbury producing fuel chips for the power plant. Clean chip production is around 50 tonnes per hour per chipper and 100 tonnes per hour for fuel chips. The fuel chipper works seven days a week, one ten-hour shift per day.

To improve trucking efficiency, the company is using a new Hitachi 210F loader – purchased from Wajax – at roadside to load softwood logs on four-axle trailers with a 35 tonne payload versus the 24 tonne payload of a conventional trailer equipped with a centre-mount crane.

See the H855C harvester and TH575 harvesting head in action by clicking on the video below: