Scottish forestry and woodland news

Our First Year (and a bit) with the Malwa 560F Forwarder

10 January 2016  post by Nick Marshall

We have now had our Malwa forwarder for a little over a year so I thought I would share some of our experiences of using it in UK conditions.  

Treeline carries out a wide variety of timber harvesting work concentrating on early thinnings, farm and estate woodlands and sensitive or difficult sites.  Due to this our work often has many different constraints or challenges compared to a conventional, commercial harvesting site. These include sensitivities to ground damage, both within the wood (due to amenity, recreational and sporting use), and outwith the wood (crossing farm fields, using estate roads etc.). We often have to deal with restricted access due to narrow gateways or bridges, and frequently harvest small volumes of varied timber spread between multiple small woodlands with varying terrain and ground conditions. Regardless of difficulties, we always work hard to ensure that jobs are carried out in a timely manner and provide a return to the client.  

We looked for a long time for a forwarder which would work for us, and finally settled on the Malwa. Now, having operated the Malwa for over a year, we are delighted with our choice and with how the machine has performed.

The Malwa did almost exactly 1500hrs in its first year, mainly following behind our 14 tonne, excavator-based harvester, but also behind hand cutters.  It is very well matched to the harvester, being able to follow anywhere the harvester goes and with productivity at a similar level.  In tight first thinnings with an extraction distance of over half a km the Malwa has been extracting 4-5 tonnes an hour. On a clear fell site, with a shorter extract, productivity can double, and you can reasonable expect to achieve over 100 tonnes in a 10hr day. The machine excels in its nimbleness within a tight wood, maneuvering around the wood, quickly enabling you to extract lots of smaller loads rather than a handful of large loads.

We cut predominantly 3m chipwood with 1.7-2.4m fencing/pallet products and 3.7 or 4.9m logs.  Due to the 3m chipwood we have added extension pins to the Malwa, which enable us to carry 4-4.5 tonnes per load of 3m.  With shorter, double-bunked products the Malwa carries 4.5-5 tonnes and with logs it is easy to load the machine to its 5.5 tonne rated payload.  

We have used the Malwa's trailer on some jobs with longer extraction distances, or where ground damage has been particularly key.  For example, I was recently asked to extract 100 tonnes right up the lawn of a large house.  Using the trailer allowed me to carrying part loads spreading the 5 tonnes over 10 wheels. This left no evidence on the lawn apart from some flattened blades of grass. The timber was all moved in a single day and the owner was delighted. 

With the trailer you can carry about 10 tonnes in total. But this weight, along with the added drag of the extra wheels does mean that it is hard work for the forwarder and so it is only really suitable for easier extraction routes.  On a long haul it does halve the number of loads that you have to do. The trailer is also amazingly maneuverable, even in a tight thinning.

In terms of costs we have found the Malwa to be quite economical.  It averages about 5 litres of diesel an hour, less in crane work, and more with long uphill hauls.  Servicing is every 500hrs and easily manageable in a short day with full service kit and all oils costing about £450.  Routine maintenance is straight forward, with all greasing points being easily accessible, checking all bolts for tightness and the replacement of the odd hose being the main items.  We have required a few parts over the year but these have always been quick and easy to attain.  Crane and engine parts can be sourced in this country from Clarks Forestry and CAT UK respectively.  Any more specialist parts I have got direct from Malwa in Sweden which is very quick and easy.  I have called Malwa in the afternoon and had parts by 8am the next morning when I've been in a hurry!

We have found the after-sales service from Malwa to be excellent.  As mentioned above, parts can be sent very quickly.  Most problems have been sorted out very quickly over the phone, and I have been able to call their head engineer at any time, he knows the machines inside out and can usually get straight to the problem.  For warranty items or modifications due to machine development the parts have been sent across and fitted by an agreed service agent.

The cab, although relatively small in comparison to a large machine, is comfortable and quiet with a good radio, heating and air conditioning.  The controls are simple and easy to use and enable the machine to be very nimble.  Through the IQAN computer everything is adjustable so that you can set the machine and its operation up just how you like it.  All of these things make the Malwa a pleasure to operate, and12hr shifts are not a problem. In comparison to a basic tractor/trailer combination, which is what we switched from, there is a huge difference in all respects.

We continue to be delighted with our Malwa which fits our workload and client demands perfectly and is a real benefit to our business.

  • Our Malwa 560F and trailer loaded up with a mixed load of fence posts and 3.7m logs. Our Malwa 560F and trailer loaded up with a mixed load of fence posts and 3.7m logs.
  • Taking delivery at the 2014 APF where we helped Malwa to show the forwarder. Taking delivery at the 2014 APF where we helped Malwa to show the forwarder.
  • Extracting thinnings onto a farm road.  This is at the end of the job when we had extracted about 400 tonnes with no damage to the road. Extracting thinnings onto a farm road. This is at the end of the job when we had extracted about 400 tonnes with no damage to the road.
  • The Malwa working on a clearfell site alongside our harvester. The Malwa working on a clearfell site alongside our harvester.
  • The Malwa is easily moved, shown here being towed by our Valtra A93, 100HP tractor.  The Malwa's trailer sits on a cradle slotted into the bolster supports. The Malwa is easily moved, shown here being towed by our Valtra A93, 100HP tractor. The Malwa's trailer sits on a cradle slotted into the bolster supports.
  • Extracting fencing materials out of a steep gully, here running on brash meant that no traction aids were required. Extracting fencing materials out of a steep gully, here running on brash meant that no traction aids were required.
  • Extracting across a field leaving no ground damage but for some flattened grass. Extracting across a field leaving no ground damage but for some flattened grass.
  • After 4 days work with an extraction distance of over a km and a very tight 1st thinning... The Malwa is a productive little machine. After 4 days work with an extraction distance of over a km and a very tight 1st thinning... The Malwa is a productive little machine.
  • Fitted with tracks and chains to work steep compartments with a wet, cross slope extraction route. Fitted with tracks and chains to work steep compartments with a wet, cross slope extraction route.
  • Although the cab is small I still managed to squeeze my wife in with me while wearing her wedding dress! (Prior cleaning of the cab was required). Although the cab is small I still managed to squeeze my wife in with me while wearing her wedding dress! (Prior cleaning of the cab was required).