Today we have more timber in our mountain forests than in the last several hundreds of years. Forests in remote locations like the European Alps are aging, due to the underuse of this incredibly valuable natural resource. The EU and local governments intend to extract much more timber in the future to ensure sustainable forest management.
Sledwinches, tower yarders and self-driving skyline cranes in combination with ropeway systems as well as helicopters are among the most important technologies used for harvesting timber on steep slopes far off any access roads.
Sledwinches are ideal for long ropeway systems, where they can be employed quite efficiently and be well productive. The drawback of these systems is that usually they require an additional person to operate the winch and their installation on the mountain side requires additional ropeway setup effort.
Self-driving skyline cranes have the advantage of not requiring moving ropes. However, their comparably low performance, high weight and sometimes inefficient and high wear traction concept has prevented their widespread adoption on the market.
Tower yarder systems eliminate many of these issues. Two people can operate the equipment via remote control, and the ropeway system is set up very quickly. Unfortunately, their applicability is limited to shorter ropeways and they cease to be efficient in downward transport of timber.
Helicopters are in some cases the only viable solution, if the use of a ropeway system is impractical. In most cases, their very high operating cost makes their use financially unreasonable.
While a whole range of equipment is available to cope with different harvesting conditions and terrain, there is no widely applicable harvesting solution with low operating cost and high productivity. As a result, harvesting firms often need a range of equipment to be well prepared for various conditions. We at Leitalpin believe there is a strong need for new developments to address these issues.