At a small thematic fair in Germany in 2013, on the theme “Logging in wetland” (KWF Bodenschutz Thementage), a prototype named the Portalharvester was presented. It gained a lot of interest both in Germany and internationally, but after this show, it disappeared. Why?
The concept was meant for logging in wetland and contained a harvester, the Portalharvester, and a special cable logging system. The harvester itself was a traditional excavator-based harvester, but instead of wheels or tracks it had two platforms with tripod legs, eight meters apart, and a single track between them on which the harvester should slide.
The harvester should operate in strip roads and put the logs in the strip road to be forwarded by the cable logging system to solid ground. When moving the platforms, the operator slides the harvester over to one of them. Then the other platform could be lifted, and the track folded towards the harvester. After that, the operator could turn the track in the wanted direction, fold it out again and continue to harvest.
On the show in 2013, this could not be demonstrated, other than on illustrations, as the last pieces in the construction were missing. The reason that was told, was that one of the engineers working with the project unexpectedly passed away just a few weeks before the show. The rest of his team didn´t manage to get the pieces together in time for the demo.
Will the project continue?
After the show in 2013, it haven´t been much buzz about the project. There has been an abstract (note the summary in English on page VII) made about the project in 2016 at Dresden Technical University. The only news that the university wants to share for the moment is that the missing bits to make the Portalharvester work, actually were solved and the machine was tested. However, there is still a lot to be solved before it could be a commercial product.
Will climate change push the development of forest machines?
Whether the project will continue or not seems to be unclear. The author of the abstract points out that the warmer winters and higher demands for renewable materials should make it interesting to get timber out from wetlands, especially in central Europe. The traditional forest machines of today are not all suited for that. So – other solutions should be interesting.
If the solution of how to get timber out from wetlands will be the Portalharvester, or not, will be seen in the future. There are most likely more people and organizations thinking about this problem.
Sources: Technische Universität Dresden, Germany.