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Cut-to-Length In Quebec

We visited contractor Antonin Beauséjour along with operators Cedric Laferrière and Kevin Correnti to get their thoughts on the two new Tigercat H822E/570 harvester packages purchased in late 2021.

— Samantha Paul

Forestier Beauséjour is a Quebecbased harvesting company operating north of Mont Tremblant National Park. On the day of our site visit, Antonin’s crew was harvesting outside of Saint- Michel-des-Saints, the northernmost municipality in the Lanaudière region of Quebec. Snow squalls, icy road conditions and minus 20° Celsius (-4°F) made for a true winter day in the bush.

Antonin started in the industry as a mechanic for his father’s logging business. At the age of eighteen, he purchased his first machine and started subcontracting for his father. Over the years, Antonin has owned twelve Tigercat machines. He currently runs one crew with two Tigercat H822E/570 harvesting packages and two 1085C forwarders. In total it is a 40-person operation with fourteen direct employees and 26 subcontractors.

Antonin was the first owner of the new Tigercat E-series H822 harvester. He needed a machine that could perform selective cutting and meet the necessary environmental regulations in his area of operation. The H822E harvester was the right fit. “Plus, Tigercat resale value,” says Antonin. One-third of Antonin’s jobs are selective cutting. The wood is a mix, typically 60% softwood and 40% hardwood. The company extracts 30 loads per day, working out to approximately 200 000 cubic metres per year. All the softwood goes to Groupe Crête’s sawmill in Saint-Faustin-Lac-Carré. The hardwood is marketed to several other mills in the area.

Antonin’s wife, Christine, is a mapping specialist and handles all the paperwork and administration. “She puts 110% into the business,” says Antonin. They met in a forestry camp many years ago. They have two girls, Alycia, age thirteen and Meganne, age fourteen. The girls briefly became interested in the logging business when they were given pink hard hats by their father. “But the interest faded pretty quick,” laughs Antonin.

Cut-to-length

From 2004 to 2011, Antonin operated as a subcontractor – cutting with a Tigercat 822 feller buncher and skidding full-tree timber to the roadside with a 635D. The trees were delimbed at roadside, loaded tree-length, and transported to the mill. In 2011, Antonin secured his own contract that entailed road building, harvesting, and road transport. In 2017, he decided to transition to a cut-to-length method.

Antonin’s rationale? It is much easier to conform to environmental regulations concerning ground disturbance and ground pressure with a cut-to-length fleet. “You can run on your branches, and it’s less damage with a forwarder than with a skidder,” explains Antonin. “It is also easier to transport the wood from the job site to the mill with a cut-to-length method.” With a tree-length method, the different species are stacked up on top of each other. Antonin explains that the wood on top always needs to be hauled first. “Even if you need the species underneath.” He also knew that cut-to-length was the future of logging in Quebec. “For all those reasons, it was a no brainer to make the switch.”

Antonin and Tigercat district manager, Yannick Lapointe attended the DEMO International forestry show in Vancouver in 2016. Yannick and Antonin were walking around what at the time was a very new 570 harvesting head. Antonin, who had never owned a harvesting head before, was unsure about it. As he recalls, “Yannick told me, ‘If you get in, I’ll get in. I’ll be there with you, and I won’t let you down.’”

The timing was right for Antonin. In early 2017, he purchased the prototype 570, fitted to a Tigercat H845D carrier. The machine came to him with approximately 1,000 hours from previous field testing and demos. From there, Antonin and Yannick worked together. “It was a learning curve for both of us,” says Yannick who made regular site visits to set up and analyze the head. He would relay his findings back to the engineering department at the factory, going back and forth on adjustments and improvements. A couple of years later, armed with a great deal of newly acquired knowledge and experience, Antonin purchased two additional 570 harvesting heads on new H822E carriers. He based his decision on performance, versatility, low maintenance and high uptime experienced with the original unit.
Antonin and Tigercat district manager, Yannick Lapointe attended the DEMO International forestry show in Vancouver in 2016. Yannick and Antonin were walking around what at the time was a very new 570 harvesting head. Antonin, who had never owned a harvesting head before, was unsure about it. As he recalls, “Yannick told me, ‘If you get in, I’ll get in. I’ll be there with you, and I won’t let you down.’”

The timing was right for Antonin. In early 2017, he purchased the prototype 570, fitted to a Tigercat H845D carrier. The machine came to him with approximately 1,000 hours from previous field testing and demos. From there, Antonin and Yannick worked together. “It was a learning curve for both of us,” says Yannick who made regular site visits to set up and analyze the head. He would relay his findings back to the engineering department at the factory, going back and forth on adjustments and improvements. A couple of years later, armed with a great deal of newly acquired knowledge and experience, Antonin purchased two additional 570 harvesting heads on new H822E carriers. He based his decision on performance, versatility, low maintenance and high uptime experienced with the original unit.


JUST KEEP LISTENING TO CONTRACTORS, LIKE YOU ALREADY DO.


— H822E/570 operator, Cedric Laferrière


An operator’s perspective

Antonin has given the H822E/570 harvester operators, Cedric and Kevin the opportunity to be partners in the ownership of the machines. “I want to give them a chance to become their own contractors,” says Antonin. “It also helps ensure I keep the best operators with me.”

Twenty-nine-year-old operator Cedric Laferrière has been operating logging equipment for ten years, six of them with Forestier Beauséjour, and two-and-a-half of those as a partner in the ownership of the machine. Cedric’s father and grandfather worked in the logging industry. “I will not become a millionaire, but it’s my passion, and I love it,” he says.

Before the H822E, Cedric operated Tigercat 870C, 822C and 822D feller bunchers. He was used to the Tigercat brand but not used to running a harvester. “As far as the machine goes, the D to the E-series is a similar geometry. But going from a feller buncher to a harvester is different work.”
On the day of our visit, Cedric was harvesting in a mixed stand. “Everything from very small softwood to very large pine, yellow birch, or maple up to 65 to 70 centimetres [25 to 27 inches] at the butt.” Cedric must ensure the trees are not too crooked, and if they are, he must cut them into the right sized pieces. “I was amazed at how precise the length measurements are, especially with the speed it has.”

Antonin adds, “The most important part is the reliability and toughness of the head. We have no downtime.”
Effective debris management was a crucial objective in redesigning the 822E platform. The redesigned engine enclosure reduces debris build-up, providing improved roof access for clearing debris, and a new boom slider reduces debris build-up in hard-to-reach areas. “I complained so much about this in the past. Now, I am very happy,” says Cedric. “The machine has 1,500 hours on it, and there is nothing that needs to be cleaned in the swing area.”

Further improvement to the operator environment was also a key element in the redesign. A new, wider, air ride seat was added to improve comfort during long shifts. The seat is fully adjustable with seat angle and extension adjustment, reclining back, and lumbar support. “Out of all the machines I’ve run, this is the best seat I’ve had,” Cedric confirms.
Machine stability is something Cedric wishes he had a bit more of, but he understands the compromise that comes with a compact, near zero-tail swing machine for selective harvesting. “If I wanted more stability, it would have to be an 855E.” The requirement for him to have a zero-tail swing machine is more important. As for Cedric’s parting words. “Just keep listening to contractors, like you already do.”

Antonin is also impressed with how Tigercat reacts to feedback. “When I have an issue, and I bring it up, you’re coming back with the change within a reasonable time.”

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