Current issue: 55(3)
Under compilation: 55(4)
Chain flail delimbing and debarking may improve value recovery from small tree harvests, without renouncing the benefits of multi-tree processing. The technology is mature and capable of excellent performance, which has been documented in many benchmark studies. This paper offers new insights into the relationship between the performance of chain flail delimbing and debarking and such factors as tree volume, load volume, tree form and bark-wood bond strength (BWBS). The study was conducted in Chile, during the commercial harvesting of a Eucalyptus globulus Labill. plantation. In an observational study, researchers collected production data from over 780 work cycles, and work quality data from over 1000 individual trees. The analysis of these data shows that productivity is affected primarily by load volume. Work quality is affected by BWBS and by the number of trees in a load. Work quality degrades with increasing BWBS and tree number, since more trees tend to shield each other. Tree form has no effect on either productivity or work quality. Regression and probability functions are provided, and can be used for predictive purposes when trying to optimize current operations or to prospect the introduction of chain flail technology to new work environments.
A time study was conducted to determine whether stem crowding had any impact on harvester productivity in Eucalyptus grandis stands. This represents an important element when trying to balance the advantages and disadvantages of coppice management in fast growing plantations designated for mechanized harvesting (i.e. machine felling, delimbing, debarking and cross-cutting). The study material consisted of 446 coppice stems, half of which grew as single stems per stool and half as double stems per stool as a result of different coppice reduction strategies. The dataset was balanced and randomized, with both subsets replicating exactly the same stem size distribution and the single and double stems alternating randomly. Harvester productivity ranged between 6 and 50 m3 under bark per productive machine hour, following the variation of tree diameter from 10 to 40 cm at breast height (1.37 m according to South African standards). Regression analysis indicated that both tree size and stem crowding (e.g. one or two stems per stool) had a significant effect on harvester productivity, which increased with stem size and decreased with stem crowding. However, operator experience may overcome the effect of stem crowding, which was not significant when the harvester was manned by a highly experienced operator. In any case, the effect of stem size was much greater than that of stem crowding, which resulted in a cost difference of less than 10%. However, this figure excludes the possible effects of stem crowding on volume recovery and stem development, which should be addressed in the future.