One of the perpetual challenges of forest management is ensuring you have the right tool for the job – or the right machine for the right woodland. Swedish forest machine manufacturer Vimek’s slogan is ‘Make an impression without leaving a mark’. The company is a specialist in the production of lightweight yet very strong machines, including harvesters and forwarders. One of its latest innovations is the Vimek 404 Duo, a smart solution combining a harvester and forwarder in one small-scale machine.
Developed and tested extensively across Europe, the Duo has now arrived on the UK and Ireland market, with distributor Oakleaf taking delivery of its first machine early this year. It has since been put to work extracting small-diameter hardwood from a young forest for firewood. Oakleaf has been a dealer for Vimek since 2012. Managing director Joe Litter said: “Vimek has been making the 610 forwarder and 404 harvester for years. They’re huge sellers in Scandanavia and the Baltics, because forestry is done in a different way there, with much more focus on managing the forest than clear-fell harvesting. They’re well proven and well tested, but the difference in the trees they face in Sweden versus what they might face in Ireland or Scotland is night and day. There’s a big difference in the way the trees grow and how early the intervention is, which makes for a bigger challenge over here. Naturally, that made us keen to put the Duo to the test and see what it can do. From what we’ve seen I’m really impressed, and the customers have been really impressed as well. It’s under five tonnes, easy to move around between sites, highly maneuverable when it’s at work and, importantly, it has the power you need.”
The 404 Duo is equipped with a CAT engine with 60 hp and a powerful hydrostatic transmission from Bosch Rexroth. Weighing 4.7 tonnes (excluding trailer), it has a loading capacity of 505 tonnes and is designed to be extremely easy to manoeuvre, thanks to its unique dual steering function with a sharp swing angle. Fitted with a Keto Forst Xtreme harvester head, the Duo can also be equipped with different crane tip attachments such as a clamshell bucket for ditch clearing or a felling head for brush clearing under electric power lines.
On top of its small footprint, low fuel consumption and low investment costs contribute to a good total economy. Joe said:” It is much more affordable to invest in a Duo than to buy a harvester and forwarder as two separate machines. Traditionally, landowners wouldn’t want someone coming in with a 10 to 20 tonne harvester and smashing the place to bits to try and get 100 tonnes of firewood. But with the weight and size of the Duo and the way its steering is designed, meaning you can literally drive it right around a tree with standard two-metre spacings, you can go in and do the same job and not really disturb the ground.”
For contractors, this has the added advantage that landowners can be willing to pay more for management that leaves their forests in better condition. So if you’ve been dreaming of a machine that’s cheaper to buy, cheaper to run and allows you to charge a slightly higher rate for your work, the Vimek 404 Duo could be worth investigating.
(Forestry Journal, 2021)