Dealer: Baltic Agro
Customer: Valga PUU OU
Operator: Enno Lees
Jobsite area: E265 highway, Estonia and Latvia
Valga PUU OU are one of the leading forestry companies operating in Estonia. Based in Törva, the company operates across the south of the country undertaking a variety of land management operations from land clearance to planting and forestry maintenance. Much of the work the company undertakes is on their own land but occasionally they will carry out work for other forestry contractors.
The fleet of machinery operated by Valga is as impressive as the scenery in which they work. Ten excavators, all Kobelco, are joined by a fleet of fifteen harvesters and sixteen forwarders, all supported by a small fleet of trucks and low loaders. From their small beginnings in 1999, the company has grown massively to over 130 employees and manage over 27,000 hectares of forest in South Estonia.
The company operates a wide range of machinery and have recently added to their fleet of equipment with the addition of a special Kobelco SK140SRLC-7. A very popular model on inner-city construction projects, this particular SK140 has been adapted specifically for the arduous work often found in the forestry environment. The short radius excavator has been fitted with a longer and wider undercarriage usually found underneath a Kobelco SK210 excavator. The larger undercarriage offers huge benefits for operator Enno Lees as it offers greater stability when working on uneven ground and the addition of the larger track motors provides the excavator with superior traction compared to the standard undercarriage. Additional underbody plating has also been fitted to prevent potential damage from errant branches and brash. Running on environmentally friendly bio-oil, the Kobelco has also had a secondary hydraulic filter fitted to ensure the machine’s oil stays as clean as possible to increase operational effectiveness.
The SK140SRLC-7 has been supplied through local dealer Baltic Agro and their area sales manager Jaak Veski. “Valga PUU is our biggest Kobelco customer. They have already bought 10 excavators from our company, and we are very proud to be working with such a strong company.” Jaak comments: “We are pleased they have chosen Kobelco for this very specialist work.”
Along with the larger undercarriage, the SK140SRLC-7 has been fitted with a locally made PMC quick hitch and carries a Tamsalu tree shear. The choice of tree shear is one solely taken on maintenance. “We use the tree shear as it provides us with a reliable method of cutting the smaller trees.” Enno explains: “We need a simple solution that is 100% reliable and we have that in the shear, a saw would be quicker, but would also give us issues with repairs and maintenance.”
The fuel-efficient Isuzu engine provides 78Kw and meets the latest EU environmental regulations thanks to a highly efficient SRC system. Where the excavator excels is its hydraulic system. Enno is very complimentary about the response and power delivery from the system saying that he can both track the machine and quickly use the tree shear with no drop in performance. This is down to the two variable displacement pumps each supplying a steady 142 l/pm to the hydraulic system.
The new excavator had been delivered to one of the company’s largescale projects adjacent to the E265 highway which links Estonia and Latvia. This project saw Enno and the Kobelco undertaking thinning works. The thinning works are designed to clear away smaller trees to allow the more dominant and established trees to grow to their full potential. “The general rule for thinning works is if the tree is damaged or decayed or under 300mm in diameter, it comes out.” Mihkel Matsin Area Site Manager for Valga PUU adds: “We usually undertake this work in each block on a three-year cycle to ensure the remaining trees are kept as healthy as possible. The thinning operations also allows the wildlife within the forest to flourish.” With the trees coming to full-term growth, they are sustainably harvested before being pelletised and sent around Europe for biomass power generation.
Valga PUU have enjoyed a long relationship with Baltic Agro, not only through the supply of the Kobelco excavators, but also through the timber handling equipment the dealer supplies. “We are extremely pleased with the quality of the Kobelco equipment.” Anders Olesk, Valga PUU Director explains: “Not only is the equipment first class, but their service is also. We work in some very remote locations and when we need them, they are always on hand to assist us. We find the fuel consumption to be excellent, despite the engine working larger track motors and the hydraulic shear all day. Our operators love the Kobelco cab too. They say it’s a very well laid out and comfortable place.”
The Kobelcos are kept on the fleet for approximately 3-4 years depending on the hours they build up and on average, can complete up to 30 acres per week of thinning works.”