The projects listed below have been approved for the current fiscal year. Please contact the project lead listed for details of each project.

HSM 208F Winch-Assist Feller Clambunk Forwarder

In early July, the first operational dual-purpose winch-assist HSM machine in the Pacific Northwest was observed by FPInnovations in a Monticola Forest Ltd. managed steep-slope tree falling and forwarding operation near Trail, B.C. The tree size was quite variable with some large hemlock and aspen trees (2 m3 and above) and also smaller paper birch clusters (less than 0.1 m3 per stem). It was working in combination with a Tigercat LX 830C feller-buncher equipped with a Tigercat 5702 continuous rotation disc saw. The slope-capable feller-buncher was felling and bunching the majority of trees. The HSM machine, equipped with TimberMAX F65 chain saw felling head, was primarily used for forwarding to a processing skid-site approximately 200 m down the road; the integrated HSW-15 Slope Winch is built into the robust console of the tilt crane. After the feller-buncher and several HSM machine passes for felling and extracting the timber from the approximately 100-meter corridor there seemed to be very little soil displacement and virtually no ruts or channelization. FPInnovations observed the HSM machine achieve about 4 cycles per productive machine hour with estimated payloads ranging from 8 to 12 m3 during the visit, on slopes ranging from 35% to 55% (averaging 48%). An FPInnovations “Info Note” is currently available to FPInnovations members. A video of the system at work can be found here. Please contact for more information.


Winch-Assist Technologies available to Western Canada

There are several major winch-assist systems presently available to the forest industry in British Columbia. An FPInnovations “Technical Report” is currently available to FPInnovations members where these systems are reviewed and described. A short description of the winch-assist concept is provided and various winch-assist categories that currently exist on the market are compared followed by a description of the relatively new implementation of directional felling heads in steep slope harvesting. The New Zealand winch-assist technologies and manufacturers are then described (ClimbMAX, Remote Operated Bulldozer (ROB), EMS TractionLIne, and FFE Falcon Winch), followed by the European winch-assist technologies and manufacturers (Haas/John Deere, HSM, Ponsse Synchrowinch, Komatsu, and T-Winch). The winch-assist systems developed in the Pacific Northwest (T-Mar’s Rhino and Summit winch) are also described. Please contact for more information.



Winch-assist buncher equipped with a hot saw

Winch-assist felling systems typically use feller-director type felling heads. However, harvesting contractors in Washington State have started using feller-bunchers equipped with hot saws (continuous rotation disc saws) because they offer the potential of better productivity, particularly in small diameter stands and stands with a high number of non-merchantable stems. FPInnovations conducted a short-term productivity evaluation of a hot saw buncher using a Summit Engineering’s winch-assist system operating at a site in Washington. A video is available (Summit traction-assist with feller-buncher) and a report will be written in the Fall 2016. Please contact or for more information.

Winch -assist buncher equipped with a hot saw

Steep Slopes in Alberta

Harvesting on steep terrain in the Alberta Foothills has been reduced due to high costs, soil disturbance constraints and lack of suitable techniques to operate within the 5% soil disturbance limits. The FPInnovations’ Fibre Supply group was asked to evaluate safe, ground-based alternatives to costly cable extraction that meet ground disturbance standards. These methods were measured over a range of slope classes and the fuel intensity for each machine was measured by the Transportation and Energy group. Reports will be available in Summer 2016. Please contact for more information.

Steep Slopes

Environmental Impacts of Steep Slope Harvesting: Discussion Paper

With an increase in steep slope harvesting and the challenge of managing a larger haul road network in higher risk terrain, the risk of detrimental environmental impacts increases significantly. FPInnovations’ objective is to identify key issues, information gaps, and further work to ensure sustainable land management practices as the industry transitions to harvesting in higher risk steep terrain using new methods. A discussion paper is now available to FPInnovations members.  For more information please contact Janet.

FPInnovations’ Helicopter Costing Model

The forest industry’s interest in helicopter logging is growing as markets improve. In the past, FPInnovations’ did extensive work developing cost and productivity information for helicopter logging. This information was very valuable for our member companies that were involved in helicopter logging but much of this information is now dated. FPInnovations has updated its helicopter logging cost database and developed a costing tool to assist companies in the planning phase. This costing tool will make it much easier for planners with limited heli-logging experience to successfully implement heli-logging projects on their operations. This planning tool will benefit the industry by reducing planning time and costs, providing more accurate cost estimates and helping planners make better decisions about where and what to heli-log. It will also reduce logging costs due to better planning and providing companies with the information that they need to get the best rates.

A final version of the model is now available. For more information please contact Brian Boswell at


Kiwi Tech tool report

FPInnovations collected and summarized information on several technologies developed for steep terrain harvesting in New Zealand – camera systems, software tools, worker safety, management support tools and others. Many of the innovative technologies presented in the report were developed under the auspices of the steep terrain program designed to improve safety and productivity in forest harvesting operations under the NZ-based Future Forests Research (FFR) vision of “No worker on the slope, no hand on the chainsaw”. To view the report, please click  TR 52 – New Zealand Steep Terrain Harvesting Technologies with Potential Application in Western Canada. Please contact for more information.

Kiwitech tool

Electronic Chokers

Electronic radio release chokers offer the potential for better safety and improved productivity at cable yarding operations. Similar to conventional chokers, electronic chokers are set manually but release automatically through a radio signal sent from a transmitter. FPInnovations conducted a study of the Ludwig electronic choker system at a site in southern B.C. The study compared the productivity of the Ludwig chokers to conventional chokers. A report on the study has been written. Please contact Peter. Dyson for more information.  Electronic Chokers

Grapple Camera Summary

FFE Grapple










A live feed transmits video taken by the grapple camera to a screen in the yarder cab. The yarder operator can view the screen to assist him in positioning the grapple over a turn. The camera is particularly useful when terrain conditions and or rain or fog prevent the operator from seeing the grapple. Safety is improved as a spotter is no longer needed. The camera mounts on either the scab block or the grapple. FPinnovations is assessing Falcon Forestry Equipment and T-MarIndustries grapple cameras. A Field Note will be written in Fall, 2016. Please contact for more information.



Grapple Yarder study

Grapple yarding mechanically felled and bunched stems is more productive than grapple yarding hand felled stems. The question is, how much more productive is it? To help answer this question FPInnovations conducted a short term productivity study on a Madill 124 yarder that was yarding bunched and non- bunched stems. The study took place near Courtenay, B.C. on TimberWest’s private forest land in November, 2015. For more information about the Grapple Yarder Study Report please contact Peter Dyson at:

Yoader Summary

Forest companies are looking for lower cost alternatives to conventional grapple yarders. A combination yarder and loader known as a yoader may be a potential solution. Yoaders are loaders that are modified so they can yard logs, but also perform other tasks such as loading or excavator forwarding (hoe forwarding or hoe chucking). They offer the following advantages over larger conventional grapple yarders.

  • Faster set up and demobilisation as there are no guy lines
  • Quick conversion to hoe forwarding or loading
  • Capability to yard off the road
  • Lower operating costs
  • Lower capital cost
  • Capability to reach areas that are not viable for grapple yarding

FPI conducted a short-term productivity study on a yoader operating near Hope B.C. in February 2015. The observed yarding productivity was 12.7 m3/PMH (Productive Machine Hour) and the cost was $18.35/m3. A report has been written and available through FPinnovations.

In early 2016 a Vancouver Island contractor purchased a yoader. FPI observed the yoader operating and published a Field Note and produced a video. To view the video please click here. For more information please contact Peter Dyson or Colin Koszman at:, or Colin


Herzog Alpine winch on a Ponsse harvester and forwarder

The Herzog Alpine winch system provides tractive assistance to machines operating on steep slopes. The winch mounts on a harvest machine and the winch cable is attached to a standing tree or stump. FPInnovations observed a Herzog winch equipped Ponnse harvester and forwarder thinning a second growth Douglas-fir plantation in Oregon. Although the site was not steep enough to require winch assist FPInnovations was shown a site with 70% slope that was clearcut harvested with the Ponsse equipment. Miller Timber owns the Ponsse machines and the owner stated harvesting costs are much lower compared to a cable logging system. A Field Note on the Ponsse equipment has been published. Please contact for more information.

Herzog Alpine

Steep Slope Road Design and Construction

The focus of this project is to develop innovative techniques and technologies to reduce costly end-haul and cut and fill style road construction on steep slopes. In collaboration with member companies, FPInnovations is currently gathering data on innovative steep slope road construction techniques and technologies to use as part of a report comparing these methods with conventional ones. This includes field tours to review steep slopes road projects where significant end-haul or cuts and fills were required.   FPInnovations is also working with Softree Technical Systems Inc. to evaluate their new Softree Optimal technology which determines the most cost effective vertical road alignment based on horizontal alignment and cross-section template, in addition to other user inputs. This technology automates vertical alignment location which saves time on the design, optimizes planned earthworks and reduces overall project costs. Another component of this project is flyrock from blasting which has been identified as an issue by member companies. Flyrock damages and degrades the value of standing timber and embedded rocks pose a significant safety hazard to fallers and mill workers. FPInnovations is reviewing methods to reduce flyrock, and is producing an Information Note on the topic. For more information please contact

EMS Tractionline

The EMS Tractionline winch installed on an excavator enables harvesting equipment to work on steep slopes. Two cables connect the harvest machine to the EMS Tractionline-equipped base machine. Line pull is provided by planetary drive units that incorporate a sophisticated winch braking system and comprehensive safety features. FPInnovations observed a Tigercat felling machine tethered to an EMS Tractionline winch system operating at a site in southern Washington. This EMS Tractionline is the first in North America and is owned by C&C Logging. FPInnovations conducted a productivity study on the EMS with C&C Logging early in January 2016. A report is in progress. Please contact Dzhamal for more information.
EMS tractionline

Remote Operated Buldozer (ROB) - New Zealand Study

As part of FPInnovations’ Steep Slope Initiative, a detailed study was carried out on the Remote Operated Bulldozer (ROB) traction-assist harvesting system operating with Rosewarne Contractors in New Zealand in July, 2015. The ROB system is a double winch mounted at the rear of a 21 tonne Liebherr 734 bulldozer with a 7/8th inch swaged rope attached to a John Deere 909KH Harvester. Detailed time and motion data on the tree falling system as well as the grapple yarder extraction was collected as well as tension monitoring during operation. Data has been analyzed and a report is in progress. Please contact for more information.

ROB - New Zealand

Remote Operated Buldozer (ROB) - Vancouver Island

The first operational Remote Operated Bulldozer (ROB) in Canada was observed in a steep slope tree falling operation near Chemainus, BC on Vancouver Island. Developed and manufactured in New Zealand, the bulldozer-based traction-assist system is now adopted by Lyle Newton of Island Pacific Logging who is also the sole distributor for North America. Operators have been working with the system for more than six months on slopes of 80% and greater for productive tree falling. An Information Note has been published. Please contact for more information.


Full Life-Cycle Steep Road Development

The overall goal of this project is to create best practices for full life-cycle steep road development. This includes design, construction, operation, deactivation and remediation of steep roads. FPInnovations is upgrading its’ steep descent calculator for use as a design aid, and to account for switchbacks. FPInnovations is using a DJI Inspire 1 UAV to better understand how various logging truck configurations track through steep switchbacks. Information Notes will be released throughout the year to update membership on the exciting knowledge this research uncovers. For more information please contact

Full Life-cycle

T-Mar LC150 “The Rhino”

Traction-assist technology for steep slope harvesting and forest operations has been gaining momentum worldwide in the last 4-5 years. Interest in this technology in Canada is growing and BC manufacturer T-Mar Industries Ltd has designed a purpose-built, 100% remotely operated winch-assist equipment. Blueprinted, built and delivered to the Washington state-based customer in a 5-month timeframe, it has been operating flawlessly and as intended for nearly a month now. It features high 3’ (90cm) clearance, 1500’ (460 m) of 1” swaged line, independent guyline and anchor blade, cable tension monitor and 3 cameras for operator feedback of machine surroundings. View the The Rhino in action. Please contact for more information.

T-MAR picture

Cable yarding systems in the British Columbia interior – productivity benchmarking

As fibre supply limitations in the BC interior drive forest harvesting operations onto steep terrain, there is increasing interest in cable yarding systems. In response to member requests for productivity assessments of cable yarding in the interior in regards to small piece sizes, the Fibre Supply group at FPInnovations completed a series of studies. The Fibre Supply group also completed studies benchmarking productivity at coastal operations. The interior and coastal benchmark studies provide useful comparisons for contractors to gauge their productivity. A summary report is expected in Summer 2016. For more information contact Vladimir.

Summit Winch Assist System

Winch-assist machines enable ground-based harvesting on slopes that would be too steep for conventional equipment. The machines are attached by cable to an auxiliary anchor machine or in some situations to a stump or standing tree. Winch-assist technology provides tractive assistance enabling logging machines to climb or descend steep slopes. The technology is used in Europe, New Zealand and South America but has only recently been introduced to North America. A Field Note on the Summit Winch –Assist System is available. Please contact for more information.

BC Coastal - Steep Slopes (Steep Roads)

The long-term goal of this project is to create best practices for full life-cycle steep road development. This includes design, construction, operation, deactivation and remediation of steep roads. During the 2015/2016 fiscal year, FPI completed a number of initiatives on this project including updates to the FPI Steep Descent Calculator (SGD) tool and a new user manual; several information notes; digital aerial photogrammetry (DAP) of several steep switchbacks; and filming of loaded logging trucks traveling down steep switchbacks. Furthermore, a case study on steep switchback layout and construction will be released late 2016. Project initiatives planned for the 2016/2017 fiscal year includes; design versus as-built conditions of steep roads, improving traction through road surface stabilization; and the use of fjords on steep roads. Information Notes will be released throughout the year to update membership detailing the exciting knowledge that this research is set to uncover. For more information please contact

The Summit Winch-Assist

Understanding Steep Slope Machine Stability and Traction

Since 2010, FPInnovations has been investigating methods, technology, and procedures for harvesting steep terrain safely and efficiently.   This includes the development of a test procedure for evaluating harvesting equipment on steep slopes and subsequent field testing using feller-bunchers.  A simulation model for assessing the stability of feller-bunchers on steep slopes was developed in 2015.

The objectives of this project were:

Center of Gravity (CG) Testing 

  • To develop and test a methodology for determining the physical centre of gravity (CG) location for forest machines operating on steep slopes
  • To obtain representative machine CG positions to allow the estimation of machine stability and traction through modelling

Machine Stability Modeling

  • Improve the current model by adding improved CG information
  • Add the effect of a winch-assist cable to the model
  • Conduct a sensitivity analysis considering machine stability under a range of conditions
  • Use the model to estimate machine operating limits for a range of conditions

Traction Testing

  • Develop a method to test traction for tracked machines
  • Test traction in a range of BC conditions and calculate coefficients of frictions

Key project findings were:

CG testing – Actual CG locations determined from testing were found to be substantially different than then the calculated locations

Machine Stability Modeling – Operating in the uphill direction allows for slopes of up to 70% to be harvested safely with traction line tensions of 20% of machine weight. The operability range in the downhill direction is more limited with maximum slopes of 50% and 40% for tilting and non-tilting machines respectively. It is likely that higher slopes could be achieved at higher line tensions. However at these increased line tensions, the harvesting system would no longer be traction assist and becomes reliant on the traction line to support the harvesting machine.

Traction testing – An inexpensive and efficient method was developed for testing traction for local conditions. Tractions tests were successfully completed in several different conditions

Next steps for this research include:

  • Add friction to the stability model
  • Use the model to estimate machine operating limits for a range of conditions
  • Develop operator tools on machine operating limits
  • Develop a method to test traction for wheeled machines
  • Develop traction and stability modeling for wheeled machines

Centre of gravity testing


Stability modeling for winch-assist machines


Traction testing

Evaluating Advanced Ground-Based Harvesting Systems on Steep Terrain

Timber harvesting on steep terrain presents several challenges around safety, costs, investment in equipment, timber supply, regulatory compliance, environmental impacts, availability of skilled labour and planning. Increased mechanization on steep slopes is required to mitigate safety risks associated with manual tree falling. In 2012, one in six tree fallers were off work for more than 30 days of the year. In light of these factors, this project aims to:

  • Identify domestic and international steep slope ground-based harvesting technologies that can provide cost-effective opportunities for innovation.
  • Facilitate the introduction and application of new harvesting technologies.
  • Assess the costs, productivity, safety benefits and environmental impacts of new ground-based technology compared with conventional techniques.
  • Support a regulatory environment that favors the deployment of safe, sustainable and cost-efficient steep slope operations.
  • Investigate the effects of advanced steep slope harvesting methods on timber supply analysis.
  • Investigate innovative road building methods and equipment to reduce cut and fill volumes on steep terrain.
  • Communicate key learnings to field practitioners.

Evaluating Advanced Cable Harvesting Systems

Harvesting on steep terrain is expensive and was often deferred during the economic downturn; that reservoir of fibre is now being actively harvested. There is a need to ensure the industry’s social license is maintained by mitigating environmental impacts that could occur from harvesting on steep terrain. Studies on site disturbance, erosion, terrain stability, and visual impacts are needed to make certain that harvesting practices are sustainable.

There have been relatively few technological innovations in cable harvesting methods in Western Canada, for example, grapple yarding has changed very little over the last 30 years. This project aims to:

  • Identify domestic and international cable harvesting technologies that can provide cost-effective opportunities for innovation.
  • Facilitate the introduction and application of new harvesting technologies.,
  • Assess the costs, productivity, safety benefits and environmental impacts of new cable or helicopter technology compared with conventional techniques.
  • Support a regulatory environment that favors the deployment of safe, sustainable and cost-efficient steep slope operations.
  • Document road building methods for rebuilding de-constructed or re-activating first pass roads on steep terrain and recommend innovations in technique and technologies.
  • Communicate key learnings to field practitioners.