We don’t need to tell you how tough of an environment logging is.
This harshness of forestry conditions is why most of the components used in forestry equipment are made up of steel that could withstand heavy use. With the arrival of new technologies in material science and computer simulation, there lies a great opportunity for the forest industry to benefit from latest innovations and lighter yet equally sturdy solutions.
Why lighten forestry equipment?
Cable rigging components are usually made up of thick steel for a longer service life. This adds weight that could lead to more injuries, higher fuel consumption, and other inefficiencies in the operations.
Given the current worker shortage, one of industry’s top goals is to retain existing workers and attract new workers. Keeping riggers injury-free by reducing haulback block weight is therefore key.
And so, as a first case study and to fulfill this industry need, FPInnovations is working on reducing the weight of the haulback blocks used in cable yarding operations.
FPInnovations has partnered with Calmar Fibreglass Ltd, a local composite manufacturer, as well as Opsal Steel, a local block manufacturer, to develop the lightweight haulback block.
Calmar produces composite parts for automotive companies such as Electro Meccanica and Porsche. Ronald Kaschula, owner of Calmar FibreGlass says the new haulback blocks could be made from composite ballistic materials, thus making it suitable for forestry application to withstand the abuse that the block incurs in logging.
Improved safety: a must in the forest industry
Developing lightweight haulback block that meets the needs of British Columbia’s logging operations is long overdue. This project aims to improve safety in cable yarding with large skylines that are commonly seen in B.C., especially on the coast.
One of the components of cable yarding is a 90 lbs steel haulback block that riggers must carry on their shoulders uphill and downhill in challenging terrains in order to form the skidding line. The average age of a rigger is over 50, and carrying these heavy blocks is causing safety incidents.
The goal of this project is to develop a light and durable haulback block with an average life of 6 years or more. The new haulback block would be 25% lighter and would be available at a competitive cost.
The benefits are many:
- Fewer injuries in B.C.’s cable yarding operations
- Retention of existing working labor pool and attraction of a new, younger workforce
- Supporting new innovations in Canadian manufacturing
- Opening up new opportunities for innovations in forest operations