Swedish forest industry develops new sustainable forest machine
A new type of forest machine is currently circulating in Swedish forests. It combines a low impact approach, increased productivity and an improved working environment and is the result of a major cooperative project that has been running since 2019. The machine concept is called Centipede and it was developed by eight Swedish forestry companies and a forest machine manufacturer. The machine is currently being tested and the results are promising.
Swedish forestry is facing major challenges and the issue of sustainability is at the center of attention. For this reason, Södra, Sveaskog, SCA, Holmen, Norra Skog, Mellanskog, Stora Enso and BillerudKorsnäs, together with the forest machine manufacturer Komatsu Forest, have jointly developed a new forest machine for low-impact forestry. Thanks to its innovative technology, the machine – called Centipede – is designed to ensure the most sustainable management of forests possible, both for the environment and for people.
Low impact, productive and comfortable work environment
Centipede was developed to meet the challenges of forestry and offers three important benefits: low soil compaction, increased productivity and a better working environment.
“This is a comprehensive project, in which the parties take a long-term approach to promoting sustainable forestry. In the project, we have fundamentally challenged today’s technology and taken a step into the future,” says Erik Nilsson, CTO of Komatsu Forest.
The machine is designed to reduce the risk of soil damage, to increase transport speed and to reduce whole body vibration for the operator. The machine is equipped with a new forestry track system, with a large bearing surface to minimize the impact on the ground. It also features a fully suspended frame to handle uneven ground conditions, allowing machine speed to be increased significantly without the corresponding increase in vibration.
Thanks to this newly developed technology, Centipede can be driven both to sites normally considered wintering sites and to sites heavily affected by rainfall. In addition to being able to satisfy the wood supply throughout the year and thus provide better preconditions for profitable harvesting operations, Centipede has a number of features that will directly increase production.
Thanks to its innovative design, Centipede can move through the terrain much faster and can carry a larger load than the Komatsu 855, which was used as a benchmark. These two characteristics create the conditions for significant increases in productivity. In addition, Centipede has demonstrated in simulations that fuel consumption is reduced by up to 15% on soft ground, which is also positive for the environment and profitability.
A thorough preliminary study was carried out and a new machine concept was developed during the project. The machine has been carefully evaluated through simulations and road tests. Full testing will continue in the spring of 2022 and decisions will then be made on whether to continue the project.
The opinion of the participants on Centipede, the forest machine of tomorrow
Magnus Bergman, technical and digitalization manager at SCA Skog and chairman of the project steering committee:
“The forestry industry and Komatsu are now jointly achieving a major technological leap forward with a machine that is more respectful of the environment and the operator, while allowing a more efficient flow of wood. With Centipede we can meet the challenges posed by ever shorter frost periods and for this reason the machine is one of the most important development projects in forestry.
Magnus Petersson, Head of Entrepreneur and Technology Development at Södra:
“Those of us who are active in forestry know how important it is to cultivate the forest without damaging the soil. Our members who own their forests want to pass on land managed with a low impact approach to the next generation. This reinforces the financial, social and cultural values of the forest. By participating in the development of the next generation of forest machines, we are doing something very popular in family forestry.
Anders Järlesjö, Head of Forest Technology at Sveaskog:
“Minimizing the impact on the ground in our managed forests is an important issue. This is therefore an important and long-awaited development that is fully in line with Sveaskog’s long-term direction for more sustainable forestry. With this, we can see an opportunity for us in the forestry industry to take a big step forward together with an efficient forestry machine that is kinder to both the environment and the operator.