Cover story: Hyundai FX series log loader

By: Cameron Officer, Photography by: Cameron Officer

For the busy team at Sinclair Logging, Porter Equipment’s forestry gear is proving to be both efficient and reliable

It has been six years since Deals on Wheels last caught up with Geraldine-based Russell Sinclair from Sinclair Logging.

While the world is a very different place these days to what it was in 2015, there remains something comfortingly reliable about how Geraldine remains a pretty wee town nestled in the foothills of the Southern Alps even still. And I don’t have to stray too far from the main drag to check out one of Sinclair Logging’s current harvest sites either, as it’s barely five kilometres away from the early morning bustle of Talbot Street.

The new purpose-built Hyundai FX3632LL log loader at work

Another thing that hasn’t changed in the last six years is the way Russell and his team work: everything is about efficiency. From the men on the ground to the machinery, to the way the skid is organised, everything is planned out methodically to ensure better use of time and resources.

Take the way Russell’s excavator operator RJ was cutting and stacking timber to be trucked away. With around 10 truckloads per day needing to be sent out the gate, RJ carefully stacks not in conventional rows but rather in a giant semi-circle. It’s tidy, with nothing going to waste, but as long as the trucks are keeping up, it also mitigates double stacking.

These days Russell is running two crews rather than three. Although with the mix of work coming their way, he says less is more.

"This shelterbelt job we’re working on is just a small-scale thing—maybe four or five hectares worth of wood. Two crews work well when you have 30- or 40-hectare blocks on the go, but that isn’t always consistent," he says.

"But then we’ve got an estimated 60,000 tonnes of logs to pull out of another block coming up, so you still need to have good resources onboard. I think it’s getting harder to find good, experienced people though."

Thankfully, finding good machinery isn’t such a problem.

Hyundai power

The log loader is running a SATCO 324 processing head

When I visited Sinclair Logging in 2015, the company had just taken delivery of a big Madill 2250C feller buncher, supplied by Madill distributor Porter Equipment. The Madill is still going strong elsewhere in South Canterbury and—now as then—so is Russell’s wider fleet of heavy-duty Hyundai equipment. And it’s recently acquired kit that has brought me south on this occasion, too; Sinclair Logging’s two new purpose-built Hyundai FX3632LL log loaders to be precise. The machine in focus was running a SATCO 324 processing head while the other newcomer is running a Southstar QS600.

While these big forestry excavators are at the upper limits of Hyundai’s FX forestry range in terms of size, Russell says it’s their tonnage and comparative lightness that makes them an ideal fleet addition for his company.

"At 37 tonnes, the Hyundais sit under that magic 40-tonne mark, which makes transporting them a bit more straight forward and you don’t need to use dollies.

"We get into some pretty steep country here; it isn’t like Mid-Canterbury with long straight roads everywhere. Steep slope work is only increasing—I’m getting another of my machines prepped for winching this week, in fact—so, getting big gear in and out of the hills can be a challenge that isn’t going to go away.

"But the new FX machines are actually light for their size. We looked at a competitor model and the FX was lighter than that other machine, even when all guarded up as you see it here," Russell explains.

"Being lighter means they can walk faster uphill, and they don’t burn as much diesel getting there: we can work faster and more efficiently, but we’re still getting a tough excavator that has all the bells and whistles at the same time."

Sinclair Logging’s two new FX forestry machines are ably supported by his existing fleet of Hyundai crawler excavators

Guarded specifically for the forestry industry—including heavy-duty track guards, underbody protection, and extra guarding around fuel and hydraulic oil inlets—and featuring a comprehensive LED light package, rear-view camera, and a spacious operator cab, the Hyundai FX3632LLs are ably supported on the Sinclair Logging fleet by machines from the Korean manufacturer’s lengthy range of crawler excavators.

These include a 21.9-tonne Hyundai R210LC-9, 29.7-tonne Hyundai R290LC-9, and a couple of Hyundai R250LC-9s, one of which is working alongside the log loader here. Even one of the new FX’s replaced an outgoing Hyundai R320LC-9.

"The 320 was a fantastic machine," enthuses Russell. "It gave us amazing bang-for-buck value, but it had done more than 10,000 hours so it was definitely time to move it on."

Russell is equally enthusiastic about the service he gets from Porter Equipment, from the research and purchase process through to after-sales servicing and even assistance when it comes time to move on to something else.

"Chris Toase (Porter Equipment territory manager, Canterbury and West Coast) is great to deal with; so proactive. He’s not waiting for me to come to him with a question; he’s asking me about what we need on the ground, and what’s going to work best for us," says Russell.

"We’re always looking to improve on what we’re running. The idea is to opt for machines that do more, and Porters helps us get the result we want."

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