Elephant logging forwarder from Ponsse

  • 06-Mar-2009 03:30 EST
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Fully articulated suspension allows Ponsse's Elephant to cross rugged terrain with ease. The eight-wheel version is designed for medium-hard surfaces and snow.

The ea­rly days of logging saw teams of horses dragging felled trees, but now there is an Elephant to do the same work. While live elephants are still used in some Asian countries, Finnish company Ponsse prefers to use large machines for the task. Once trees are cut down and trimmed, the Ponsse Elephant forwarder, whose design combines a crane, tractor, and trailer in one massive machine, heads into the cleared area to collect the harv­ested trees.

Models are available in six- and eight-wheel configurations. The six-wheel version is intended for use on hard and flat terrain, while the eight-wheel v­ersion is for medium-hard terrain and snow. Slopes cause no trouble, and due to 29.5 in (750 mm) and 31.5 in (800 mm) of ground clearance, respectively, on the six- and eight-wheel versions, stumps and debris pose little problem. Both versions are large enough to carry 39,700 lb (18,000 kg) of logs of a maximum length of 212.6 in (5400 mm) for the six-wheeler and 252 in (6400 mm) for the eight-wheeler.

Mercedes Benz provides the power with a diesel six-cylinder producing 275 hp (205 kW) and 1100 N·m (810 lb·ft). The engine is programmed to run at low rpm while still achieving the needed power, giving fuel savings and less noise. It ­comes with direct high-pressure fuel injection with pressures up to 1800 bar (26 ksi), giving improved economy and extended oil change periods.

The centrally pivoting structure of the Elephant must endure harsh conditions and has been designed for durability and strength. Improved steels, larger pins in the crane joints and slewing cylinder, a cast frame, and a large main bearing work together to withstand untamed areas.

Hydraulics power the crane, steering, cage gates, and even the operator steps. A large hydraulic oil tank of 200 L (52.8 gal) resists heat loss while providing the necessary flow. The crane can reach up to 9.5 m (31.2 ft) with a lifting moment of 107,000 lb·ft (145 kN·m).

Complex movements and hydraulic systems are controlled by the OptiControl system, which integrates the crane, transmission, and motor-control functions into one interface. All measurements, controls, and monitoring can be seen on one display. The system automatically adjusts the engine speed to meet the current load demands, thus freeing the operator to concentrate on the job while improving fuel economy.

Cab comfort is also taken into account, with adjustable ergonomic controls, noise suppression applications, and air-conditioning and heating systems to distance the operator from the outside conditions. Narrow window pillars between the impact-proof windows allow for greater visibility. The cab tilts for servicing access.

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