On the 18th of July, we arranged to visit Hamish Oliphant at his premises near Turiff in Aberdeenshire. Hamish founded and owns NEWFuel Ltd, which supplies high quality, seasoned woodchips for biomass heating systems and provides a mobile wood chipping service for customers with their own woodlands in the North East of Scotland.
We eventually arrived after a huge bust up with the Sat-nav over directions – apparently “Road Ahead Closed” means nothing to my husky direction finder who maintained that NASA’s guidance satellites knew better than me (looking directly at the bloody sign) and then took offence to giving me an alternative route.
Hamish started NEWFuel in 2008, chipping with a tractor mounted Heizohack and delivering the woodchips locally by tractor and trailer. In 2014 he moved to his current location, which is perfect for NEWFuel’s requirements.
As we drove into the large yard I was struck by how clean and tidy everywhere was; no woodchips and bark blowing around, nice new clean concrete floors everywhere you looked, well maintained buildings, immaculate equipment and everything put back in its place when not in use. It is fantastic to meet someone like Hamish who takes such pride in everything he does and I imagine his customers feel the same way with regards to the quality of the products he supplies.
After introducing ourselves to Hamish and his friendly canine companion, Fergus, I could hear some noise coming from the rear of a large storage building so we made our way round to investigate further.
We were greeted by a sweet sounding Jenz HEM 561 Chipper mounted on a Scania G450. This was being fed by a Palfinger Q130LD loader, while collecting the chips was a Valtra T151 coupled to a Fliegl push off Trailer. This chipper was bought in 2016 to replace the tractor mounted Heizohack chipper. Hamish decided on the Scania as the truck base for the Jenz following on from the previous Scania bought for a delivery vehicle. Jenz fitted the self powered chipper to the chassis at their factory before it continued its journey to Outreach Ltd, where the Alucar de-mountable crane console was fitted on the rear for the Palfinger Q130LD loader. The
Palfinger Q series LD is a heavy duty loader which has been designed with chippers in mind as it is more than capable of withstanding continuous and arduous use.
The chipper operator was Stuart Morrison and he has been working with Hamish for the last six years. As well as being competent and smooth, he also understood the capabilities and limitations of the equipment he was using. I thought the grab wasn’t closing properly but Hamish explained that Stuart was trying to remove most of the loose bark prior to chipping and ensure no foreign objects were passing through the chipper.
The chipper hardly dropped a rev when in use as Stuart would place about half of the timber in the FG53 Grab into the infeed rollers, meaning the chipper was never under heavy load and provided a good, continuous supply of woodchips for Matt Newman’s waiting trailer. Matt runs the site and drying facility with military precision and takes great pride in the appearance and cleanliness of the premises. Both Matt and Stuart maintain the machines and equipment. Once filled, Matt drove the Fliegl push-off 20 tonne trailer which was towed behind the forestry guarded Valtra tractor (also used with a forwarding trailer if needed) round to the drying area. As Matt began to reverse, I noticed that the trailer’s rear wheel steering was working when going backwards as well and I saw it was cleverly activated by means of a hydraulic ram fitted near the drawbar. He unloaded the chips in the hot air drying area, which will hold in the region of 200m³ of woodchips and uses standard batch Grain Drying Technology. It is heated by two 190KW Biotech boilers and the hot air is blown through under floor vents which can also heat the workshops on cold winter days. There are three augers which travel up and down and side to side to keep all the woodchips continuously rotated to speed up the drying process and provide a more consistent moisture content. The round wood is stacked in the yard until the moisture content is down to 30-40% moisture content. The chips are then stored prior to delivery.
Back on the chipper Stuart allowed me to explore his office: the 130 LD top of the range Epsilon EPS Cab.The vision is good and the controls for the loader and chipper are well laid out and easy to use (although I did feel a bit like Captain Kirk at the helm of the Starship Enterprise until Stuart showed me what the screens and switches were for). The seat itself was comfortable and it was refreshing to see mini-lever joysticks, which has a big impact on reducing operator fatigue during large volume chipping shifts.
A Mercedes 490hp OM 471 LA engine acts as a separate power source for the Jenz HEM drum chipper and stems up to 56cm in diameter can be accommodated. Hamish opted for a drum chipper over a disc chipper as the drum gives a better chip quality and is quieter. The HEM 561 is a precision open drum chipper with 20 blades, and normally gets around 800 tonnes of chip out of a set of blades before replacing them, there is not a big difference in price over re-sharpening.
There are two fuel tanks a dedicated 450l tank for the Jenz and a 1000l shared by both the Jenz, and Scania. It will chip around 35-40 dry tonnes per hour with the Jenz using 50-60 litres of diesel per hour.
For delivery, NEWFuel owns a Scania R580 Tridem Chassis fitted with a rear steer and lift axle 32 tonne unit which is highly manoeuvrable in tight spaces and can unload the woodchips by either the walking floor in the container or the blower attachment at the rear of the truck. At this point I was starting to expect the unexpected; I have rarely come across anyone who is as thorough and prepared for almost every eventuality as Hamish. He explained that Sellers made the body before it was fitted by Outreach – it is a de-mountable body and the wagon, which is plated for 44 tonnes, can be fitted with a trailer. It has the Alucar rear de-mountable crane console for the Epsilon loader, the hydraulics were a challenge for Outreach as the walking floor requires different hydraulic demands from the blower hydraulic motors. Outreach overcame this issue by fitting a tandem hydraulic pump with separate spool valves and an additional hydraulic powered oil cooler. Looking underneath, I spotted something dangling down and it was the automatic snow chains fitted by Outreach. Although Hamish had originally used a tractor and push-off trailer for delivery, he has since found the Scania with its 40m³ load to be a much more economical and time saving delivery method.
Nearby, Hamish has his own mature woodlands as well as other woodlands in the region and some of his own forestry equipment is dedicated to dealing with windblown trees. Under a large tarpaulin I noticed a 70-65 Fiat Crawler Skidder which has a Forest Machine Services logging blade and guarding with the five tonne Igland three point linkage winch.
Furthermore, in the next building, I spotted, a very tidy for its age and hours, Valmet 860.1 forwarder (I had one of the first new type Valmet 860s in 1999 and it is still going strong to this day, but that’s a story for another day), and opposite the forwarder was a Botex trailer with a 560 Botex loader which is pulled behind the Valtra tractor. Hamish has had electric mini-lever controls fitted to the Valtra’s seat for operating the Botex loader on the trailer, while the building also contained a mini-digger and an assortment of other equipment to make life easier when working in the forest.
Regardless of where you go at Hamish’s premises, everywhere is clean, tidy and in immaculate condition and all his equipment is maintained to the highest standards.
I was really struck by how this venture is not merely about being a successful business as he aspires to be known for the quality of his woodchips. They are tested regularly for quality control and compliance with CEN TC/335 and ONORM M7133 standards.
Good quality woodchips reduce downtime and minimise system maintenance for his customers. Hamish will only use good solid wood with no rot from locally sourced and managed sustainable woodlands. Every load of woodchips has a fuel declaration certificate so the customer knows the origins, type and specification of the wood they are burning.
Hamish, Stuart and Matt are all trained to the highest standards and with Lantra accredited training on the fuel they produce.
This is a very well thought out professional company which only uses the best equipment available and it was a pleasure to visit them as Hamish and his staff were very open and informative with any questions we had.
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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