Next to cutting the trees down, the biggest challenge facing a log harvesting crew is shifting the wood out of the forest in a timely fashion.
In large, nicely-laid-out corporate forests it’s maybe not such a critical issue – because permanent, well-formed roads allow your average log trucks to get right onto the skid sites, load up and soon be on their way out.
But in many smaller forests, skids and landings can be a long way from good roads and tracks can be difficult and expensive to build, especially on steeper terrain.
Which is why there’s been a recent shift in focus to using heavy-duty, offroad trucks to get logs out in a two-staging operation.
Trouble is, no two forests are alike – and a big, purposebuilt log transporter might only be required for some jobs….and not others. So it could be parked up for long periods….not used to anything like its full potential. And that probably makes it uneconomic for a lot of contractors.
It’s not a truck you see too often
at all on New Zealand roads – and that’s the way it’s meant to be: The Astra 8x8 is a truck from the Italian truckmaker Iveco, built specifically for offroad work.
It doesn’t venture out onto the highways too often, but that doesn’t mean it can’t (for moving between jobs etc).
I last drove/tested one of these impressive trucks back in 2019 at a quarry just outside Christchurch: Isaac Construction had put an 8x6 Astra into work to test its efficiency over other quarry machines. By the sounds of things, it has proven itself: They have another in build.
That test was in a flat quarry environment, so with this Astra we’ve waited till its working in really challenging country for our test – going where other more conventional trucks can’t go.