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Improved log load securing project underway

2 March 2022

As part of the FGR programme in Automation and Robotics, a project has commenced to develop a safe and efficient alternative load securing system in New Zealand for logging trucks.

Many logging truck drivers suffer musculo-skeletal injuries that are caused by throwing chains over the load and then manually tensioning the load restraints. An improved method of load restraint is required so this project is aimed at developing ways to automate chain throwing and tensioning.

In addition, as debarking in the forest becomes more common, there will be changes to the loads the trucks will be carrying with more debarked logs could be carted from the forest to the port. So, the industry must also consider any changes that may be required to current methods of load restraint to adequately restrain these more slippery debarked logs on logging trucks.

To date, the automatic chain thrower is well advanced with two trucking companies having developed working prototypes for field testing. In addition, two forestry companies have also built machines that lift all the chains over the load simultaneously. These machines are proving effective for use in log yards.The project will develop a system whereby:
– the chains are automatically thrown over the load.
– the chain tensioning is automatically done by winches that are driven off the truck’s auxiliary power system.
– chain tension will be monitored automatically and if any load settling during the journey is detected the winches will automatically retention the chains without any intervention by the driver.
– the status of the chain tension will be displayed on an in-cab system that will notify the driver if any corrective action is required.

This project is being undertaken with support of the Log Transport Safety Council, in conjunction with Trinder Engineers Ltd of Nelson.

These developments implemented across the NZ logging truck fleet should reduce driver injuries due to chain throwing and tensioning and result in longer driver retention in the industry, and safer log transport, a win for the whole industry.

Source: Forest Growers Research

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