05 February 2017 17:24
Wood transport: picking up tree trunks with the Arocs 2651 L
Heinrich Hauser isn't a fan of motorways. He'd much rather drive his Arocs through the tight forest tracks in the mountains of Tyrol. We joined him on a wood transport run.
Heinrich Hauser casts a regular glance in the direction of his rear-view mirror. Then he steps on the accelerator pedal and begins to climb up the forest road in his Arocs 2651 L, heading in the direction of Märzengrund. In reverse. Despite it being a bit tight and the presence of a number of trees close to the edge of the road, he does so with a level of skill that would leave many a car driver with a lump in their throat. He only stops briefly once in order to remove a few rocks from the road just before a long left-hand curve.
The deep potholes and big rocks on the right-hand edge of the roadway are avoided as if instinctively impregnated in Hauser's mind. Other obstacles and uncertainties in the mountains above the Ziller valley are no problem for this experienced Tyrolean, in part also thanks to the Mercedes PowerShift automatic transmission and the 375 kW of power which his truck serves up. "There are other routes", says the 46-year-old driver with a laugh. "But I find this way much more fun. I'd rather drive up the mountains on tight forest roads and even if that means putting on the snowchains three times a day in winter when the going gets tough. It's better than being stuck on an endless motorway clocking up the kilometres."
So it's probably a good thing that Heinrich Hauser rarely has to negotiate his way around the multi-lane carriageways which cut through the countryside. The vast majority of the time he spends behind the wheel is in and around the mountains, transporting wood for the Hauser Transporte family-run business based in Stumm in Austria's Ziller valley. Today, he's transporting spruce trunks from Märzengrund to the Binder company in Fügen down in the valley. Around 30 solid cubic metres will be loaded uniformly on to the load platform of his Arocs and its triple-axle trailer.
First, though, Hauser has to use his tablet to send an online confirmation to the Austrian Federal Forestry Office to say that he has now entered the destination area. Sending this message is an integral part of the order process. Before doing this, he had to choose a specific order from the available freight orders. He will subsequently have to enter in the system the time at which he leaves the area in question, as well as send a couple of pictures of the load to the Federal Forestry Office. "This allows them to check whether I have taken the appropriate quantity as well as to get an initial impression of what the quality of the wood is like", explains Hauser.
Meanwhile, the forest thinning work is in full swing. Using a crane, forestry workers raise felled trees from the steeply descending drop to the left of the roadway, delimb them using a machine and cut the trunks to just over four metres in length. "The length should be between 4.07 and 4.14 metres – that's the first important quality criteria", says Heinrich Hauser.
He parked his Arocs close behind a high stack of tree trunks lying across the road. Then he climbs up into the seat of the crane attachment on his truck and lowers the hydraulic supports of the Arocs. They embed themselves deep into the soft ground of the forest roadway to give the vehicle the stability it needs. This will prove to be a big help for the subsequent loading process: trunk by trunk, Hauser uses the crane to hoist the goods onto the load platform, the Arocs sometimes violently shaking under the sheer weight of the cargo. Around 20 minutes later, the job is done and the platform body of the Arocs – which incidentally makes it possible to transport not just tree trunks but also sawn timber using one and the same vehicle – is loaded to the brim. So, time to get back to the valley?
"No", says Hauser. "Not so fast! Now I need to drive down the forest roadway to the next turning point where I left my trailer earlier. There, I will move the wood from my load platform onto that of the trailer. Then we'll go back up the hill to load the Arocs with even more wood before picking the trailer up again on the way back down."
A whole lot of wood.
"Last year, we transported a total of around 140 000 solid cubic metres, of which 65 000 was for the Austrian Federal Forestry Office", says Helmut Hauser proudly. "And in terms of excavation work, we shift innumerable quantities of material. Following excavation work for an apartment block in Innsbruck alone, we moved 100 000 cubic metres." In the sieving and breaking machines on the company's premises, the excavated material is subsequently recycled. "We can therefore offer everything from a single source", says Helmut Hauser, whose company is not only operational in Tyrol but also in the South Tyrol, Bavaria, Salzburg and Upper Austria regions.
Photos: Bubu Dujmic