Truck News


Editor’s Comment: This One’s for You, Log Haulers

As you probably noticed when you first saw the cover of this month's Truck West, we have decided to dedicate a good portion of this edition to issues affecting truckers in the forestry sector.Log haul...

As you probably noticed when you first saw the cover of this month’s Truck West, we have decided to dedicate a good portion of this edition to issues affecting truckers in the forestry sector.

Log haulers are a tough breed. It’s arguably the most demanding trucking application in Canada. The mere prospect of getting a 20,000-kg truck and trailer combination to some of the most remote and mountainous places in the country is daunting enough. That’s to say nothing of getting the truck loaded and then safely back down to the asphalt. Not to mention, the best payloads are available when the snow is flying, making winter prime time for log haulers.

But chaining up in the mud and slush and snow isn’t exactly an enjoyable experience. Sounds like a crazy way to make a living. There are those truckers, however, who would have it no other way.

In many ways, the forestry and trucking industries parallel each other. Both industries must remain aware of the social and environmental impact of their every action. Both have been the target of often uninformed lobbyists – whether they be tree-huggers or railway-funded train lovers.

And both industries have been instrumental to this country’s growth since the advent of the chainsaw and the diesel engine, respectively.

Having spent nearly a week in late November among the fine folks at the Forestry Engineering Research Institute of Canada (FERIC), I have gained a new appreciation for those who toil in the forests for a living – and an even finer appreciation for those who work on the transportation side of the business.

The log haul is one of the most important aspects of any forestry business. It’s also one of the most expensive, and as such, a lot of attention has been given to reducing trucking costs. We hope some of the tips contained within the forestry section will help you achieve lower haul costs. The unfortunate reality is, you’re going to have to find ways of reducing your operating costs one way or another to help offset the rising cost of doing business. The 2002 EPA-approved engines are several thousand dollars more than pre-02 engines. And by 2007, you can expect to be shelling out even more money for your equipment.

In fact, Dr. Tom Ryan of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Tex. has suggested that 2010 truck engines could cost US$18,000 more than today’s!

At FERIC’s western transportation conferences, I was asked to give a presentation on “Tomorrow’s Truck Engines.” Since most of the attendees were forestry company managers, I prefaced my talk in Kamloops by saying “I’m going to show you why your contractors will be asking for a rate increase.”

As you can well imagine, that caused some grumbling in the audience. But there’s no two ways about it, your cost of hauling logs is going to increase exponentially as the environmentally-friendly equipment that’s being mandated by the EPA is phased in. So, if you haven’t already taken a hard look at spec’ing your equipment for maximum payload, using central tire inflation to extend your hauling season, or using on-board monitoring equipment to pinpoint inefficiencies, then now is the time to do so. By targetting inefficiencies now, you can at least take the sting out of the inevitable rising cost of equipment.

– James Menzies can be reached by phone at 403-275-3160 or by e-mail at

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