Having the appropriate instrument for the task – or the right equipment for the right woods – is one of the perennial difficulties of forest management. ‘Make an impact without leaving a mark,’ says Vimek, a Swedish forest machine maker. Harvesters and forwarders are among the machines produced by the firm, which is a specialist in the manufacturing of lightweight yet extremely robust machinery. The Vimek 404 Duo, a clever solution that combines a harvester and a forwarder in one small-scale equipment, is one of its most recent developments.
The Duo, which was developed and tested extensively across Europe, is now available in the UK and Ireland, with distributor Oakleaf receiving its first machine early this year. It’s now being used to harvest small-diameter hardwood for fuel from a young forest. Since 2012, Oakleaf has been a Vimek dealer. “Vimek has been producing the 610 forwarder and 404 harvester for years,” stated managing director Joe Litter. They’re big sellers in Scandanavia and the Baltics, where forestry is done differently, with a greater emphasis on forest management than clear-fell harvesting. They’ve been tried and true, but the difference between the trees they encounter in Sweden and those in Ireland or Scotland is night and day. The way the trees develop and how early the intervention is made a significant impact over here, making it a greater task. Naturally, we were eager to put the Duo to the test and see what it could do. I’m extremely impressed by what we’ve seen so far, and the consumers seem to be as well. It weighs less than five tonnes, is easy to transport between locations, is extremely manoeuvrable when in use, and, most importantly, has the power you require.”
The 404 Duo is powered by a 60 horsepower CAT engine and a Bosch Rexroth hydrostatic gearbox. It weighs 4.7 tonnes (without the trailer) and has a loading capability of 505 tonnes. Thanks to its unique dual steering function with a sharp swing angle, it is meant to be exceptionally easy to manoeuvre. The Duo may be fitted with various crane tip attachments, such as a clamshell bucket for ditch clearance or a falling head for brush clearing beneath electric power lines, in addition to a Keto Forst Xtreme harvester head.
A strong overall economy is aided by its compact footprint, low fuel consumption, and cheap investment expenses. “It’s far more cheap to invest in a Duo than it is to buy a harvester and forwarder separately,” Joe explained. Landowners used to be wary of someone coming in with a 10 to 20 tonne harvester and destroying their property in order to gather 100 tonnes of firewood. However, because of the Duo’s weight and size, as well as the way its steering is built, you can practically drive it right around a tree with conventional two-metre spacings and accomplish the same work without disturbing the ground.”
This has the extra benefit for contractors that landowners may be prepared to pay more for forest management that leaves their woods in better shape. So, if you’ve been looking for a machine that’s less expensive to acquire, less expensive to maintain, and allows you to charge a somewhat higher rate for your services, the Vimek 404 Duo could be worth looking into.