Worlds first Volvo L250H log loader


The unique Volvo L250H has gone into operation at the Tangiwai saw mill, not far from Ohakune in the central North Island. McCarthy Transport manages this log yard under contract to the mill owner.

The weight of some packets can be close to the safe tipping load limit of typical wheeled loaders in the mid-30-tonne gross vehicle weight range, prompting McCarthy Transport to investigate alternatives. This has been driven recently in New Zealand by increased load capacities of trucks and the need to meet ever increasing demands to improve productivity, efficiency, health and safety standards. So a project was instigated that involved McCarthy Transport, local Volvo distributor TDX, Rotorua log fork manufacturer Ensign and the Volvo factory to put the proposal to the test.

An obvious alternative was the Volvo L250H, which is most commonly used in quarry or heavy construction applications. But this model had never been used in a log fork application anywhere in the world. The Volvo L250H is a reasonably new model and has been introduced to the market as a heavier and higher capacity machine alternative to the Volvo L220 model, which has been extremely popular in the global market. The introduction of the L250H has therefore been very timely as many operations are looking for greater lift and carry capacity from their log loaders.

The Volvo L250H has an increased load carrying capability of 1.5 tonnes over the L220H and as McCarthy Transport is continually looking to improve efficiency, lower operating cost and increase its health and safety standards, this model came into sharp focus when Company Asset Manager, Alfons Reitsma, extensively investigated the market opportunities to meet these goals. Every facet of the operation was worked out in fine detail beforehand and it is no surprise now to see the L250H operating in the log yard and achieving the targets set by McCarthy Transport. He says: “The ability to match a loader than can lift a single packet from the new HPMV trucks in one go was a very important reference point in order for us to meet those goals and after a fair bit of homework we decided the Volvo 250H offered the best solution. “To date the 250H is working extremely well across all the criteria since it went into operation and delivers the requested performance step.” The new machine has also delivered an unexpected bonus; it is quieter than previous loaders used at the mill, much to the appreciation of other workers at the site.

Andrew Falloon, Volvo Product Manager for TDX adds:“The L220 was traditionally the machine of choice in yards and on wharves for timber handling. The benefit of these machines was to lift a full packet of logs off the trucks in one pass. “However, with the changing regulatory environment in the road transport industry, and trucks now able to cart heavier loads, we needed to come up with a solution that enabled us to keep a safe lift capacity.

“This application is slightly different, and the L250H seemed to be the logical choice. It has been proven over the last three years to be in a weight class of its own in the quarry industry, and there was no reason why it wasn’t going to be the same in this log handling application.”

The Volvo G and H-Series Loaders were also designed with increased lifting capacity over previous models, providing 20% more lifting capability, achieved by larger hydraulic pumps, and larger hydraulic cylinders. Mr Falloon says: “McCarthy’s were wanting to refine their operation and gain efficiencies, and were keen to pioneer this project with us. We worked with Volvo, and local attachment supplier Ensign in Rotorua, to modify the beak slightly to fit the L250H and to ensure that it would meet the safe lifting requirements.” The 5.66 square metre capacity of the Ensign log forks remains the same size as used on the L220, but the bigger L250H provides an increased safety factor on lift, based on the higher static tipping load of the machine.

Dave Cox, Managing Director of Ensign, says the log fork was also specifically designed for the requirements of the McCarthy Transport log yard operation at Tangiwai, using narrower forks that will fit inside the bolsters on modern log trucks. Mr Falloon, adds: “Ensign did a great job in engineering the beak modifications and the fit up onto the L250H went very smoothly – Dave and his team were a pleasure to work with.”

The Volvo L250H weighs in at 39 tonnes, around five tonnes more than the L220, and its static tipping load is 22.44 tonnes, which is 1.5 tonnes greater. It is powered by a 298kW (405hp) version of the D13F 6-cylinder engine, compared to the L220’s peak power output of 274kW (373hp). After completing several weeks of trials at the Tangiwai mill, TDX says L250H has proved its capabilities as a log loader and this model can now be offered to other forestry customers.

Article written by and with thanks to NZ Logger.