In the February 2024 edition of NZ Logger magazine, we take a look at a semi-autonomous skidder manufactured by Konrad, together with EcoForst – which manufactures the T-Winch that is already well known in New Zealand. It is specifically designed to be supported by a T-Winch winch-assist – hence the name T-Skidder. The movement of the skidder itself is either remote or GPS controlled, so no need for an operator – and hence also no need for a cabin.
For the first turn, the skidder is guided remotely along the extraction trail. Once a skid trail has been identified the skidder can move itself between the felling machine and the skid. When back in the cutover, the harvester operator guides the skidder towards it, and this track is committed to the skidder’s memory.
While not needing an operator is one obvious advantage, as is the significant cost-saving of not needing a cabin, there are other design opportunities. For example, designing it with a clam-bunk allows the load to be supported over the middle of the machines, sharing the downward pressure from the load between all wheels. This provides for excellent traction capabilities.
While it has mainly been developed for the international market, it will be an exciting opportunity for New Zealand logging systems as well, say the University of Canterbury’s Rien Visser and Karl Stampfer.