Outstanding attendance at live demonstration of latest equipment

(Tilhill Forestry, South Wales, October, 2016) – Tilhill Forestry was glad to invite representatives from all stakeholder groups across the forest industry to a winch assisted harvesting demonstration on 4th October 2016. The was event organised by Hamish Parkinson, Harvesting Manager, and Chris Pike, Head of Safety and Assurance at Tilhill Forestry, and included live demonstrations of two winch assist systems and a panel discussion at a local hotel.

The systems being demonstrated were the Ecoforst T-Winch and the Highlander harvester/clam bunk skidder with on-board winch. These two systems demonstrated the capabilities of the machines, but also the two generic types of winch assist, on board and additional machine. The use of the Highlander, operated by Mike Gillet of MG Harvesting Ltd, was being used on a section of windblown trees on steep ground. Without the winch assisted machine these windblown trees would have had to have been felled by motor manual techniques, placing an operator at high risk.

The panel for the discussion was made up of Markus Krenn of Ecoforst, Sean Reilly of Bioequipment UK, Jock Mckie of John Deere, Tim Cronin of Komatsu, Lyn Davies of Ponsse and Iain Sutherland. The discussion was facilitated by Chris Pike, who put a number of points to the panel. These covered the legal aspects, ground and site concerns and machinery concerns. These ensured a good debate with members of the audience joining in and airing their views and experiences.

There is no guidance existing in the UK for this type of machinery, so we were glad to have Ian Hood, the chair of FISA’s Plant and Machinery Working Group, present to take the issues raised back to the group to be discussed. We hope that some central guidance can be agreed for the benefit of the whole industry.

As with all these events many people should be thanked for allowing us to put this one on: the MOD who were very supportive in giving us permission to hold the event on their ground – in particular Major Eddie Mahoney; the staff from Landmarc, the site managing agents; Judith Peachey and Martin Leonard. Markus Krenn of Ecoforst; Sean Reilly of Bioequipment UK and Mike Gillet for supplying the demo machinery; Jock Mckie of John Deere; Tim Cronin of Komatsu; Lyn Davies of Ponsse and Iain Sutherland of the HSE for sitting on the panel of experts in the afternoon session. Tilhill Forestry staff included: Peter Whitfield, Timber Operations Director; Chris Pike, Head of Safety Assurance; Hamish Parkinson, Harvesting Manager and Tina Ambler, Safety Manager, for their help and support in organising and promoting the event.


Tilhill Forestry Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the BSW Timber Group was established more than 65 years ago. It is a national company operating from a network of offices throughout the UK. The company provides a full range of consultancy and contracting services to the forest owner and forestry investor.

BSW is the most technologically advanced sawmill in the UK employing over 1,200 people. The Company’s roots date back to 1848, and with seven sawmills in the UK and one in Latvia, has a production capacity of more than 1.2 million m3 of sawn timber which is distributed throughout construction, fencing and landscape markets.

Together, BSW and Tilhill Forestry form a strong partnership in the forest industry that will deliver quality from beginning to end – from creating new forests through to producing timber end products.

Written by Chris Pike, Head of Safety and Assurance, Tilhill Forestry

Tethered Harvesting Machinery Demonstration Day


The forestry industry globally has a significant challenge when it comes to ensuring worker safety. Whilst significant strides have been made over the last twenty years with the advent of mechanised harvesting technology the accident rate amongst chainsaw and winch operators still remains at unacceptably high levels and is amongst the highest of any industrial sector.

In order to address this issue the global industry is seeking to increase the degree of mechanisation of timber harvesting operations and significant efforts have been made overseas, principally in New Zealand and Central Europe, but also latterly in North America to utilise new technology to achieve this.

The principal limitation to increasing the amount of timber harvested by mechanised means is the current slope limitations that existing mechanised machinery is constrained by.

In order to increase the terrain capabilities of existing harvesting machinery the forestry industry has begun to develop tethered winches which provide additional traction to timber harvesting machinery and thereby increase the degree of slope on which conventional machinery can operate.

Although this technology is in its infancy in the UK a number of winch systems for use on steep terrain have been developed overseas.

In order to increase awareness of these technological innovations within the UK and also to begin developing operational protocols to cover the use of these developments Tilhill Forestry is organising a tethered harvesting demonstration day in South Wales on Tuesday October 4th.

On display at this event will be two tethered harvesting machines.

The T-Winch is a traction winch system which has been developed in Austria by Ecoforst. The T-Winch is a self-propelled traction winch which has 500m of cable incorporated within it and allows a conventional harvesting machine to be attached to the machine to increase the traction available to the tethered machine and increase the slope angle on which the tethered machine is safely able to operate.

The CEO of Ecoforst – Markus Krenn – is a timber harvesting contractor in Austria who saw the benefits that a greater degree of mechanisation offered and developed the T-Winch to enable this. The T-Winch has been in the development stage for over 5 years, but has only been in commercial production for the last 18 months, so it is a new development, but one that promises significant potential benefits to the industry, both in terms of operational safety improvements, but also additionally reduced ground damage.

Despite this being a very recent development the T-Winch is currently operating with a number of timber harvesting gangs in Central Europe and there is additionally six T-Winches operating in the forestry industry in Chile. Markus also has strong interest from North America and Markus will be across at the Maple Ridge forestry show in British Columbia demonstrating the T-Winch immediately prior to attending the event in Wales.

In addition to the T-Winch a tethered Kaiser walking excavator with a set of tree shears will be demonstrated at this event.

For further information on this event please contact Chris Pike at chris.pike@tilhill.com

Written by Harvesting Manager, Hamish Parkinson

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