My third wedding anniversary has recently passed, which means it is just over three years since I packed my beautiful bride into the cab of our one week old Malwa 560f forwarder to drive her away from our wedding reception. The forwarder has done a lot and we have learnt a lot since then and I felt it was time to give another wee update on how we were getting on with it.
I love our little forwarder. I have always found it a joy to operate and it continues to surpass my expectations in terms of ability and productivity. We have found that with the wrong operator on it you can have problems but as soon as you get someone good in the seat the timber stacks grow quickly with little evidence left of where the timber has come from. I am totally sold on Malwa’s concept of ‘Low Impact Logging’ and now when I look at some of the harvesting site that other people leave I am shocked by the mess that can be made and the long term damage that can be caused by bigger machines. Surely it is better to spend a little more doing the job right today rather than saving a few pennies but having to spend a fortune putting things right, or worse, causing long term damage?
On clear-fell sites where you have deep brash mats and are going to carry out ground preparation and drainage prior to establishing the next crop big heavy machines are great. However, in a thinning the damage that can be done to your crop or the surrounding land through soil compaction and waterlogging can quickly negate the benefits of carrying out the thinning operation. Ground damage will also seem like a minor problem if your whole crop is blown over due to wind ingress caused by large openings in the canopy to allow large machines through.
The last three years have not been trouble free with the Malwa. Ours is a fairly early model and we have worked it hard. We have found some weak spots and suffered some failures. What I have found incredibly encouraging is that after each breakage when I have phoned the Swedes looking for help or parts they have always dealt with the problem immediately, talking us through a repair over the phone or getting us parts, usually by the next day. The other thing is that with each of the failures we have had they have already addressed that problem and tweaked the design to avoid the same happening to future models. I found it incredibly interesting going over to Elmia Wood in Sweden in the summer and seeing the new models of Malwa in the flesh. All of my concerns have been addressed and the little tweaks add up to make the new machines look very well sorted. Be in no doubt that the current Malwas are built for professional use with forestry contractors in mind. This improvement has been shown by Malwa apparently beating (by 50%) their own target to reduce their warranty costs by 40% in the last financial year.
The main components have always been great; everyone comments on what a joy the Cranab crane is to use and how much power it has for such a small machine, the CAT engine seems to be solid, reliable and efficient and the electric and hydraulic systems seem to work away without giving trouble. However, we have had some issues with the drivetrain and found some weaknesses in the frame. The drivetrain has been considerably beefed up in the newer models and parts of the frame have been re-designed to add strength. The new machines are also fitted with new frame brakes, custom designed and built by Malwa, stronger and better positioned steering rams and the engine cooling system has been tweaked for better performance.
I discussed performance in my last article on the Malwa, which can be found HERE. So I am not going to cover it again in this update, as the performance of the machine is just as good as it has ever been.
I still feel the machine ideally suits our needs, it is well matched to our harvester, it is incredibly capable in tough conditions and nimble in tight spaces and I feel it allows us to offer our clients a far higher quality of service for their woodland maintenance.
So… having seen the new models at the show we are now in discussions about changing our machine for a newer model. If we do, I will keep you updated as to how we get on. In the meantime if anyone would like any further information or to come and see our machine working please give us a shout.
Packing my Bride into the cab to leave our wedding reception
Loading 2.5m bar while thinning Pine and Douglas Fir on a steep bank around a golf course
Double-bunked 1.9m pine in a clearfell with some steep ground
Dodging dragons while extracting a rare load of 3.7m logs from a first thinning
Enjoying the extremely low ground pressure extracting timber from a large garden
Threading through tight spaces in a thinning, keeping gaps in the canopy to a minimum
Extracting timber from a golf course and stacking on the practice fairway. The joys of a lightweight machine meaning this work could be carried out with minimal ground damage
Another load of 3m chipwood coming out of a first thinning
Extracting thinned Birch from a soft site
Finishing off another winters day in the dark, thankful for the excellent LED lights