Hauling Over Old Technology


Hauling Over Old Technology

DC Equipment’s latest release, the Falcon 171 Hauler, brings today’s technology to the forefront of modern logging. Having refitted an old Madill 171 for the Moutere Logging crew with cutting-edge automation and diagnostic technology, making their operation safer and more efficient.

The Madill 171 was a self-propelled, track-mounted hauler, with 5 drums, a telescoping tower with an M4A3 Army surplus base and a Cummins engine. The Madill 171 was one of the most popular hauler’s in New Zealand logging and provided DC Equipment with a great base machine to improve upon.

Operating a hauler in general is a very specialized job. The operators need to be on point at all times to be productive and safe. This could cause fatigue and increased risk for operators in bumping the wrong lever and potentially causing unwanted incidents on the slopes of the hillside.

This is where DC Equipment’s, experienced team comes into play. Head of engineering for this project, Andrew Moore replaced the tracks with heavy duty Hitachi EX450 tracks, a new John Deer 13.5l turbo motor, electronically controlled gearbox and a brand new DC designed Cab. Where things get especially interesting is in the cabin, with the old-school Air lever-Controls being replaced with modern joystick controls and a computerised system. Handling the design of this new control system is DC’s tech guru Shaun Mills.

This new control system allows DC to data log everything, enabling the team to record make accurate data and once analyzed, can make improvements to processes and potentially automate functions to lighten the load of the operator. This analysis of the operation in such detail is something that they have never had access to before.

Making these types of improvements gives the operator much more control, with less input, and makes it a safer platform to operate says Shaun.

“The logging industry is pushed by safety and with this new system, we can analyse everything from the speed and direction of the drums to the tonnage being hauled and so on. The whole system is using cutting-edge control components, and has cloud-based server capability for future development. It could be the most advanced hauler in New Zealand.”

Another positive of using a computerised system is that it reduces driver fatigue. “If you imagine a typical day for a hauler operator, they just don’t stop. They have their smoko and lunch in the cab – because when they stop, the whole operation stops. Eventually we will be able to automate parts of the process, reducing the number of inputs the hauler operator needs to know and reducing the chance of mistakes being made. We want to make it simpler for the operator to do his job and reduce fatigue, which in turn will make for a safer, more productive extraction process”.

So far, the Hauler is carrying out standard functions, with it essentially being a stepping stone for further advancements. The learnings DC will get from this machine will shape future machines as time progresses.