NOW HIRING! Explore a Career at SMS Equipment. View Opportunities

Investing in a wheeled machine

April 17, 2024
Print Page

Discover why Nicolas Pellerin chose a Komatsu wheeled harvester for his investment.

By Guillaume Saint-Pierre, Opérations Forestières
Originally published in Opérations Forestières

Nicolas Pellerin on Komatsu 931XC harvester

Nicolas Pellerin opted for innovation when he switched gears with purchasing a Komatsu 931XC harvester.

When it came time to renew his equipment, Nicolas Pellerin boldly invested in a wheeled harvester. In his search for innovative solutions and greater efficiency, the entrepreneur behind MHP Forestier found precisely what he was looking for, largely inspired by a trip to Sweden. Opérations forestières travelled to Réserve faunique des Laurentides to see him in action.

A vivid red hue caught Nicolas Pellerin's eye among the snowy coniferous trees. It was at that moment he set his sights on a Komatsu. Nicolas knew the 931XC, equipped with a C144 harvester head from the same equipment manufacturer, backed by support from SMS Equipment, was just what his fleet needed. Venturing deeper into the forest, another machine, Komatsu's 895.2 conveyor, boasting a 20-ton capacity, was slated to join MHP's fleet, enhancing its productivity.

"Obviously, I wanted to be more versatile in the forest, but I also wanted to ensure that my investments would be effective in the long term," explains the operator, who has been in business for the past five years. The former mechanic dared "not go halfway" and embraced the innovations that had captivated him in Scandinavia.

Diving into the future without looking back

Nicolas Pellerin was surprised that most machinery was on wheels during the same business trip, unlike Quebec, where the landscape is dominated primarily by tracked equipment.

Yet the similarities in terrain, elevation, and winter conditions are striking in Quebec, according to the owner of MHP Forestier, who dared to transition to a wheeled machine. "I had never owned or driven a wheeled harvester before, but it seemed like the way of the future." It has to be, said Perllin. Although his 'six-figure bet' made him uneasy, it did pay off in the end. "There are so many advantages: the wheels reduce rutting, causing less damage to the wood," he says. I no longer have to change the tracks, which are costly on any manufacturer's equipment. I regularly maintained the rollers, the gears, etc., no longer needed with the wheeled harvester."

At the 189-kilometre marker in the Parc des Laurentides, Jean Guérin and Patrice Ouimet, both representing SMS Equipment, eagerly observed the equipment they had recently delivered. "To guide a client well is to help them better understand their needs," explains Patrice Ouimet, Manager, Forestry Division for SMS Equipment. It is with this in mind that Nicolas Pellerin was able to make informed decisions. One of them was choosing a machine equipped with a side boom, offering less interference to the driver's visibility. The entrepreneur could also practice operating the machine using a simulator at the Saguenay SMS Equipment offices to familiarize himself with his new harvester better. It's this attention to detail that has filled him with great satisfaction.

State-of-the-art technology

Among its many features, the 931XC, renowned for having the highest hydraulic capacity in the market, harbouring innovations that tipped the decision scale for Nicolas Pellerin. One of those innovative details is the jack system that aims to make the operator's cab self-levelling. On the maintenance side, an automated lubrication system provides significant peace of mind. The computerized system on board the Komatsu harvester is also a strength to consider. "It's surprisingly user-friendly," the entrepreneur says. "There was notable emphasis placed on ease of use, and the parameters of cutting volume, the species desired by the customer and the number of logs and their length are recorded and archived."

SMS Equipment Sales Representative Jean Guérin adds that Komatsu equipment is compatible with MaxiFleet technology, a software that allows remote access to machinery and provides data on each machine individually. In its most advanced programming, MaxiFleet also offers software for mapping and analysis of the felling ground stored in the cloud.

From a more down-to-earth perspective, Nicolas Pellerin believes that technology and fuel savings generate high investment returns. "Monthly fuel savings are rolling in!" Fortunately, the technology helps to optimize the infrastructure: it is possible to get performance statistics as accurate as the number of litres of fuel consumed by the machine according to the volume burned.

931XC harvester working
Like many other entrepreneurs, staffing is one of Nicolas Pellerin's biggest challenges.

Navigating workforce challenges

In addition to showcasing the equipment in action within their natural environment, the meeting with the head of MHP Forestier was also an opportunity to address other realities a forestry entrepreneur must face. A common challenge across all industries, a lack of skilled operators, does not take a trained eye to identify. During the visit, Nicolas' father-in-law operated one of the carriers. "I needed help quickly, and he stepped in. Finding operators isn't easy, despite my efforts to provide them with modern equipment that enhances working conditions," Nicolas remarked. With a touch of humour, he mentioned learning a term more commonly associated with social media than the forestry sector: "I often get ghosted! Making arrangements with someone takes a lot of coordination, and having them fail to show up come Monday morning is frustrating." Recognizing the situation for what it is, he says that this trend is becoming increasingly problematic. On a brighter note, Nicolas highlighted the role of the AQEF (Association québécoise des entrepreneurs forestiers), an association that amplifies the voices of forestry entrepreneurs, as a positive force within the industry.

As Alexandra Simard, foreman at the Forestra site, arrives, Nicolas Pellerin adds that he has no regrets about his "leap into the future." "It may have had more upfront costs, but the benefits on productivity make it worth every penny."

Don't Miss Out!
Current Promotions
In coordination with our partners, SMS Equipment has several new promotions on now.

Keep Up-to-Date
Never miss an update on the latest promotions, product releases and service tips and news on construction, forestry, mining, and road and aggregate topics.