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Washington Loggers Keep Eye on Quality

Gould-Sunrise relies on Log Max 7000 processing head for shovel logging crew. Company focuses on environmentally friendly forest management.

By Jack Petree
Date Posted: 2/1/2004


CASTLE ROCK, Washington — Ed Gould is a fourth generation logger, proud of the traditions established by those who came before yet looking forward and constantly working to improve his ability to provide customers with state-of-the-art timber harvesting.

        Working alongside and with the full support of Allen, his father, Ed has helped take the family business, Gould-Sunrise Logging, into the future. The company’s focus is efficient, environmentally friendly, forest management with the aid of advanced harvesting technology.

        One key ingredient of the company’s operations and equipment is a Log Max 7000 processing head. It is just one example of the way that technology has improved timber harvesting. Investing in the Log Max 7000 was as much a decision in favor of environmentally sound logging as it was in improving productivity, Ed noted.

        Both Ed and Allen are focused on doing a quality job and supplying the mills they serve with quality wood. In fact, they could produce more wood than they do but “...it would not be the same quality,” said Ed. The strong emphasis on performing a quality harvest — even if it means a somewhat lower production level — is one reason the company has grown substantially over the years, according to Ed.

        Based in the southwest Washington town of Castle Rock, Gould-Sunrise Logging has been operating as a family business  since1980, the year the nearby Mt. St. Helens volcano erupted. Allen decided to start his own business at the time. Some of the company’s first jobs involved working with Weyerhaeuser to salvage timber from forests impacted by the massive volcanic eruption.

        Ed joined his father in the business in 1995 and today assists in managing and running the company’s day to day operations. Ed went into business with his father because he was proud of Allen’s philosophy of doing quality work and conserving forest resources.

        “We try to do it right,” said Ed. “We’re not a fly-by-night operation. We’re a family-run operation, and we work to run the company in a way that makes people happy they’re working for us. We employ about 25 people at any one time, including my sister and mom, who both help take care of the books, and we all take pride in our work and in doing a good job.”

        In the eight years they’ve been working together, Ed and Allen have worked out a division of labor that allows them to manage their company smoothly and with a great deal of flexibility. To ensure they can provide their major customer, Weyer­haeuser, with all the services it might need, Gould-Sunrise runs both a shovel logging operation and a tower side logging crew. Ed oversees the shovel logging operations and manages the mechanical side of things in the company while Allen supervises the tower side logging crew.

        The company is well equipped for working harvests in the diverse terrain and landscape. In fact, having the right equipment available for a particular job is one of the key’s to the company’s success, said Ed.

        Gould-Sunrise has a Madill 172 Tower with an Eagle 4 carriage, a Madill 3800 loader, a Link-Belt 290 log loader, a Link-Belt 3400 log loader, a Madill 3200 feller-buncher, and a Cat 320 shovel-log loader equipped with the Log Max 7000 processing head. For transporting wood to the mill, Gould-Sunrise operates a fleet of five trucks – four Kenworths and one Western Star.

        Most of the company’s work is centered in the Castle Rock-Mt. St. Helens region. “The majority of our contract work is clear-cutting on Weyerhaeuser tree farms, although we will do a few additional harvests on private property each year,” Ed explained.

        “The main species harvested are fir and hemlock with a small amount at times of alder and maple mixed in,” he continued. “The size of our harvest tracts will run anywhere from between 30 acres up to 100 acres, with about 80 acres being the average harvest tract size. The terrain we work in will vary with the job. On all the acreage that is under a 35° slope, we will use the shovels; on anything over a 35° slope, we will use the tower yarders.”

        “Clear cutting is the main type of contract work our company is involved in,” said Ed, “and we are pretty much into tree length for everything on shovel side. Our Log Max 7000 processor handles up to 25-inch logs, but we like to keep them at 20 inches for easy handling. Generally the processor will buck all the stuff under 25 inches, and the hand cutters will do the bucking in some of our bigger settings that have the bigger wood on it.”

        When the company is preparing to cut timber on a new tract, landings are located in consultation with a forester, and a harvesting plan is developed. When the actual work begins, Gould-Sunrise will utilize both the feller-buncher and manual felling with chainsaws. The feller-buncher will work in tandem with the shovel machine, and the hand cutters will fell timber for the tower side operations. “We like to get a week or two ahead, and then we bring in the shovel logger and processor,” said Ed.

        From the landing, logs are hauled to the mill by company trucks and a few contract truckers. “Depending on the terrain and size of the wood we are falling, we will move up to 20 to 30 truck-loads a day to the different surrounding mills,” said Ed.

        “On our tower crews, we generally use a seven man crew — a yarder- engineer, one chaser, three guys in the brush, the shovel operator and the processor operator,” Ed explained. “For the most part, the ground men are putting in about eight-hour days and our equipment operators are working nine-hour days.”

        The tower yarding crew uses the Eagle 4 carriage in association with a 172 Madill tower. The equipment is well suited to the tasks it is called on to perform, said Ed. The Link-Belt 290 usually is stationed at the tower “in case we need to do a little shovel logging and sorting out of wood. The machine is big enough and has enough power to help out with both types of operations. It’s just a good, all around versatile piece of equipment.”

        In the shovel logging operations, trees are felled with the Madill 3200 feller-buncher, then processed by the Log Max 7000. The Link-Belt 3400 is used for loading logs. “It’s a real work horse and will load anywhere from 15 to 20 loads a day onto our trucks,” Ed said. “We have been using Link-Belts for about 20 years and just can’t say enough good things about them.  They are just a great machine and are very dependable. They do not give you much to complain about.”

        Ed was equally complimentary about the Log Max 7000 processing head. It is the kind of advanced technology that Gould-Sunrise embraces to improve productivity while maintaining high quality.

        “About five years ago we started trying out different processor heads and eventually settled on a Log Max 750,” said Ed. “I was immediately impressed with its capability and handling, and we all took a liking to the machine. We had tried other processors prior to the Log Max 750, but none stood up and performed as well.”

        The Log Max 750 performed so well that when Ed and Allen decided to upgrade processing heads a few years ago they again called on Log Max. “They allowed us to try out one of their demo heads for three days, and that’s all we needed to be convinced,” said Ed. “The new head just seemed to have more power, ran smoother, measured more accurately and could handle a bigger size log more easily. It also appeared to be better built with improved design features and durability. I liked it right away.”

        The installation went quickly and easily, according to Ed. “The entire installation change-over only took a couple of hours. Once the change-over was finished, the only thing left was to reprogram the computer, and it was all set to go.”

        “The Log Max people came right out and assisted with the entire change-over and upgrade. Log Max has a great service department along with great staff, and all of them really know their stuff.”

        The new processor, a Log Max 7000, has preformed up to Ed’s expectations. “Last year we did a private job that had a lot of alder mixed in, and I was really impressed with the way our Log Max 7000 handled and processed the alder. We changed over to the rubber wheels and new chain in about an hour, did the job, sold the alder to the mills and had no complaints about fiber damage from any of them. The Log Max 7000 Processor is just a great machine and does a fantastic job of processing.”

        Gould-Sunrise has a considerable investment in equipment. It is an investment both Ed and Allen believe to be critical if the company is to provide the environmentally sensitive harvest capabilities its client companies both expect and deserve. And the investment has paid off in continued growth.

        “Our company started out small but just keeps expanding little by little,” Ed remarked.  “We have been moving along business-wise pretty good and don’t have too many things to complain about. Business has been real good for us lately. We are high on quality, take pride in our work and just like doing a good job.”

 

SIDEBAR

 

Log Max: ‘We Try to Work Smarter’

        Log Max is a Swedish company that has been designing and manufacturing forestry machines since 1980. Its most recent product line includes four harvesting-processing heads that can be mounted on a variety of carriers with a fifth — the Log Max 12000 — scheduled for introduction in 2004. All the heads can be equipped with a variety of options to customize them for specific harvesting requirements.

        “The first concepts leading to the Log Max mechanized processing head were developed 25 years ago,” said Kurt Moncini, general manager for Log Max in the U. S.

        The company ended 2003 by building its 2,000th head, he said. About 500 Log Max heads are at work in North American forests. “Basically out of all the head suppliers, we are probably tied for number one among the independents who do not manufacture a carrier,” he said.

        Log Max sells its equipment through a dealer network. “Between us and our dealers,” said Kurt, “our number one emphasis is product support. Customer support and parts availability are key features stressed by the company. It doesn’t really matter how good a product you have — if you can’t get the right part, it’s not worth a hoot.”

        Kurt believes his company’s commitment to providing the right equipment for the right application and then supporting it with service is responsible for its success in North America.  “Our Log Max engineers in Sweden have really done their homework and have come up with an outstanding piece of machinery that has been fine tuned for North American forests,” he said.

        “Shortly after entering the marketplace, Log Max learned that forests over here were a lot different from Sweden’s, and that a lot more protective guarding was needed on the heads. Our 7000 head now has only three or four exposed hoses. Everything else is guarded.”

        “Weight is one of the features we pay a lot of attention to,” Kurt added. “As a result of that emphasis, our heads today are in the 4,000-pound range…To achieve those weight reductions without loss of performance, we use a good combination of weld-ability, repairability, and high tensile steel and try to engineer through intelligence. You can work smarter, or you can work harder. We try to work smarter.”

        “Another big difference with our heads,” Kurt added, “is in the way we run the tree through. We use a pivot with a sensor on our very top delimbing knife. As the tree gets smaller, the knives adjust their grasp, so the tree is not physically sucked in against the back of the frame, which in turn causes a loss of pulling power. It’s a fairly simple system that gives excellent tree control, and in the woods, control means better quality and productivity.”

        The combination of strong performance and service has made Log Max an industry leader, said Kurt. Progressive harvesting contractors like Gould-Sunrise Logging are discovering Log Max heads and using them for added production and quality.




 






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