4 Dec 2023, 13:41 CET

Billerud is developing a sustainable forest machine for the future

The Swedish forestry industry joins forces in a unique project to be able to conduct a more gentle forestry. Billerud, Komatsu Forest and the entire forestry industry are jointly investigating the possibility of developing a machine that, with low ground pressure, provides less ground impact in the forest and better operator comfort. The machine should also provide increased productivity and a more even flow of wood to the industry seen over the year. The project has been named Centipede.

The development work with the Centipede forestry machine is in a test phase, where the machine is being tested by all eight forest companies participating in the project. Recently, it was Billerud's turn to test the machine where John Samuelsson was responsible for carrying out the test runs. John works with business development at Billerud and sits on the reference group for Centipede. The test drivers were Kurt Zetterberg and Erik Engstrand, two of Billerud's contractors who had undergone training to drive the Centipede.

John Samuelsson, Billerud & Kurt Zetterberg, Centipede.

In order to maximize the three-week test period, the machine was driven in shifts on two different felling tracts, in Tierp and Årsunda.

"The areas had different characteristics, which meant that we had to test Centipede on several types of ground conditions. In Tierp it was lowland with weak bearing capacity, where the timber would be driven out of former arable land, and in Årsunda it was normal forest land of a more average character. It resulted in us being able to test how versatile the machine was," says John.

In Tierp, the large amounts of rain created tough conditions.

"The ground was already saturated and with a normal machine it would not have been possible to drive under these conditions," says John. "But with this one it was possible to get the wood out, even if we couldn't run full loads all the time."

Developing a machine that is gentle on the ground and does not cause driving injuries is one of the main goals of the project.

"Centipede runs on rubber bands and it has a fantastic carrying capacity, which creates opportunities for shooting for most of the year. It is also less sensitive to weather compared to a traditional wheeled forwarder."

Other goals for the project are to develop a forest machine that can be driven at higher speeds, has low fuel consumption and a good driver's environment.

"The drivers have responded that they like driving the machine and that it is pleasant. It is positive to access lands that are not normally reached. It also runs relatively fast compared to a regular machine and has a sensible driver environment."

By the end of the year, all field tests must be completed and then the project must be evaluated by Komatsu and the forest companies. John Samuelsson assesses that the experiences with the machine itself are good. Most likely, it will be a financial issue that decides whether or not the Centipede will go into series production.

"The machine must be able to be produced in a competitive manner. But one should not forget that there is also value for the forest industry and society in developing forest machinery that has a lower environmental impact and favors sustainable forestry," says John and continues:

"Regardless of where it lands, I think it's an interesting initiative and positive that the forest industry is running a joint development project!"

More information:
About the Centipede project
Development of innovative forestry machine (News, 2019)