Trucks are the lifeblood of our country; they supply our industry, shops, hospitals and more day and night, 365 days a year. They deliver vital supplies to every corner of our country and during the Covid-19 crisis they have certainly stepped up to the mark. Many of us were safely tucked up in our beds while these selfless hauliers carried on regardless without making a song and dance about it.
Long distance haulage and limited driving time means that many drivers have to be able find somewhere to rest or stay overnight, ideally somewhere safe and secure where they can get a shower and a decent meal before settling in.
I have been dismayed to find that many places, especially motorway services, charge in excess of £30 for the privilege of secure parking with washroom facilities that typically offer either cold or out-of-order showers. As for meals they can often be tepid, greasy unhealthy food or fast food outlets which are available at an overinflated additional cost and many haulage companies will not even cover the parking fees. This leaves many drivers with no option but to find industrial estates and noisy lay-bys where their loads, diesel and personal safety are at risk.
There has been massive support and goodwill for health workers during Covid-19 with free hospital parking, early shopping, huge discounts from shops and stores. However, without lorry drivers delivering supplies, the NHS would have collapsed and the supermarkets would have been empty with the UK descending towards civil war.
Our Government should hang their head in shame at the way our lorry drivers are treated. Most countries throughout Europe – including Germany, France and Spain – offer their hauliers free secure parking facilities with excellent wash rooms as well as wholesome and healthy cuisine. There are many truck stops throughout the UK which offer safe parking, excellent facilities and healthy, home cooked food, but unfortunately they can be out of reach if drivers are held up in traffic.
This issue needs to be addressed immediately so that it is in line with the rest of the EU and allows our truckers to eat well and rest easy without worrying about their cargo, equipment, or personal safety.
When travelling through Germany and Austria, it soon becomes apparent that a lot of the round timber travelling from the forests to the saw mills is being hauled by MAN Trucks. These countries tend to favour wagon and drag configurations as opposed to articulated units. The exception is when hauling long pole length timber up to 21m in length, for which they use special logging trucks adapted solely for this purpose.
My one and only experience of driving a logging truck was in Germany in 1987, hauling long lengths after the terrible storm that swept through Europe. I was charged with a Foden 6 x 6 articulated units with a Fuller gearbox while the loading was completed using a powerful front trailer mounted Loglift crane.
Loading the long lengths from the seat on top of the crane’s kingpost was quite hairy, and a heel bar had been fitted on the main boom with serrated teeth cut out to get a good hold of the butts – sometimes I read back what I have written and realise someone less familiar with forestry terms could think this was quite smutty! We worked alongside the German hauliers and it was a pleasure to watch them handling the long lengths onto their trailers; the experience was hugely educational and it was a great help many years later when clam bunking log poles for BSW in Carlisle.
Over the last few years I have visited quite a few harvesting sites in Germany and Austria, some at quite a high altitude, and have seen many timber hauliers at work. I have the utmost respect for them and the work they carry out. The forest roads tend to be in better condition than ours in the UK and well maintained. They are, however, much narrower with severe drops off the edge. Watching them turn around with a wagon and drag is an extraordinary experience– the site of trailers hanging over the edge of a sheer drop, almost in mid-air, is heart stopping and unforgettable. Snow and freezing winter conditions do not appear to make any difference to these hauliers as I have seen lots of photographs of them hauling timber in severe conditions.
Hauliers I have spoken to have nothing but praise for MAN trucks and most wouldn’t consider any other make.
MAN trucks offer their customers the HydroDrive Driveline, an all-wheel drive system with selectable hydrostatic front-wheel drive for better traction and improved safety. They are available as 4×4, 6×6, 8×6 and 8×8 options and will work with either leading or trailing axles.
The HydroDrive distributes power via a two-speed MAN transfer case with on and off road ratios. Planetary axles with more ground clearance, electronically monitored differential locks, drum brakes, and stabilisers are all standard features on the all-wheel drive trucks.
It is also possible to engage the HydroDrive while driving and fully laden, and when driving down steep inclines the sustained action brake works on the front axle to ensure the vehicle remains stable and easier to control.
Changing gear is a simple process with the MAN TipMATIC as it can be operated in automatic or manual mode via the tilt lever. There is a six gear version for four-cylinder engines and a 12 gear version for six-cylinder engines. TipMATIC can be used in automatic mode and drivers find that gear changes are much faster, with the engine speed range fully utilised in each gear.
Another useful feature is the MAN EasyStart, which takes the effort out of hill starts by maintaining the brake pressure for one second after the foot pedal is released so the driver can change his footing to the accelerator without fear of rolling back or jolting.
The Electronic Stability Program (ESP) protects the driver from unpleasant surprises if there is an imminent risk of skidding or tipping over. ESP sensors are constantly monitoring the driving dynamics and will apply braking pressure to separate wheels while reducing the engine torque to keep the truck in line.
The company have proven to be popular with many chipper manufacturers for their truck mounted chippers. The trucks are available as two, three or four axle units which are suitable for mounting most types and sizes of chippers, and they come complete with a connectable power take off on the transfer case with up to 8000Nm ex works, thus providing plenty of power for simultaneous chipping and crane operation.
Each MAN truck is fitted with an air deflector plate, an essential feature in dry and dusty forestry conditions as it helps to prevent dust disturbance while working.
For crane and chipper operations the cabin comes with a swivel working seat with side windows as well as a large rear window for excellent peripheral vision; the additional external cooling systems prevent the oil and water temperatures from rising when working in demanding conditions.
MAN trucks have also become the popular choice as the drive base for many tower yarder manufacturers – their reliability, higher ground clearance, and excellent capabilities on and off road tick all the correct boxes for forestry use.
When purchasing a complete tower yarder, most companies offer a full warranty on the complete package so that there is no “passing the buck” scenario if problems arise. All spares and servicing equipment is available through the tower yarder manufacturer.
MAN produce versatile trucks designed and manufactured to withstand the rigorous conditions found in a forestry environment.
They have over 60 UK dealers nationwide for sales, servicing and repairs, so no matter where you are a dealer is never far away.
Forest Machine Magazine is written and edited by a forest professional with over 40 years hands on experience. We are dedicated to keeping you informed with all the latest news, views and reviews from our industry.
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