Productivity and cost estimates for incorporating tracked processors into conventional loblolly pine harvesting regimes in the Southeastern United States
Due to the recent encouragement for loggers to integrate tracked processors into their conventional harvest equipment regime in the Southeastern United States, this study aimed to provide loggers with an estimate of the additional productivity and operating costs that could be incurred. Since tracked processors have rarely been operated in this region, a comparison study was conducted to determine differences in productivity and operating costs between a less experienced operator versus a more experienced operator. The study indicated the less experienced operator was able to produce 67 green tonnes/hour while the more experienced operator produced 80 green tonnes/hour. Costs per tonne for the less experienced operator were
approximately $2.18/tonne at the end of year 1 and decreased to $1.92/tonne at the end of year 5, depicting a $0.26/tonne difference within 5 years. The more experienced operator incurred costs of $1.82/tonne at the end of year 1 and $1.61/tonne at the end of year 5 for a total difference of $0.21/tonne. A sensitivity analysis demonstrated that extreme fluctuations in fuel or maintenance/repair prices had less than a $0.20 increase in the final cost/tonne. An increase in production rates from 65 to 125 tonnes decreased the cost/tonne $0.90/tonne, and increasing utilization rates from 50% to 85% decreased the cost per tonne of the processor by $0.78 per tonne. These results indicated that operators should be less concerned with changes in fuel and maintenance costs and be more concerned with their production and utilization rates.