Forestry flow - How to configure compact loaders for top forestry performance

Six tips to optimize compact track loader forestry performance.
Buck Storlie, ASV Holdings testing and reliability leader
January 07, 2019
By Buck Storlie, ASV Holdings testing and reliability leader
Maximize flow between the CTL and attachment with the correct size coupler and hoses. While adapters can be used to accommodate smaller couplers and hoses, doing so will restrict the hydraulic flow and reduce horsepower.
Maximize flow between the CTL and attachment with the correct size coupler and hoses. While adapters can be used to accommodate smaller couplers and hoses, doing so will restrict the hydraulic flow and reduce horsepower.
Spring is coming soon across Canada and that means land clearing contractors will be out in full force. While many jobs can be fulfilled using a standard compact track loader with a simple bucket, overgrown areas with thick brush and trees require heavier-duty forestry attachments.

Here are six tips for pairing a loader and attachment to ensure high performance and profits.

Choose a dedicated loader
The best way to ensure maximum productivity in harsh forestry applications is to choose a CTL designed specifically for the job. Heavy-duty tools, such as mulching attachments, require the machine to handle almost constant, high-intensity loads. Contractors should choose a loader that allows for 100 per cent load, 100 per cent of the time, at extremely high ambient temperatures. Some manufacturers build machines capable of performing this way in temperatures up to 47 C. This is accomplished through high horsepower, flow and efficient cooling systems.

In addition, review the loader’s auxiliary hydraulic pump maximum output capacity. Some models include high-flow pumps that are maximized and can cause the attachment to slow down when moving the loader. Look for a forestry-optimized machine with oversized hydraulic pumps that allow movement without taking any flow from the attachment.

Forestry machine operators should also look for features that maximize safety in forestry applications. This includes metal guarding around key areas (lights, the air conditioning condenser and the rear screen) to protect against brush and debris. These machines achieve an additional level of durability with a heavy-gauge cab featuring extra falling-object and rollover protection, as well as reinforced windows for impact resistance. A hydraulically driven, auto-reversing cooling fan can also blow debris from mulching applications out of the engine compartment screens.

Check the Specs
Maximum hydraulic flow and system pressure are two key specifications to look for on the best machines and attachments. Ensure the attachment matches the maximum capabilities of the machine. As most operators know, gallons per minute is the measure of hydraulic flow which determines the speed of the head, while pounds per square inch is the maximum hydraulic pressure the attachment can handle. Attachments that don’t fit the machine specifications won’t perform as well as attachments that do.

Optimize Head Settings
Next, make sure the attachment has the correct pulley configuration to optimize the carrier’s flow and power. Heads may not be automatically set to match the CTL’s GPM rating. For example, if the loader features 45 GPM, work with the dealer or manufacturer to re-pulley the attachment to reach a matching tip speed.

Manufacturers also recommend attachments that include a two-speed drive motor. To ensure optimum tip speed, maximum power and the fastest recovery time, make sure the motor shift point is set for the CTL’s specific pressure range.

Reduce Flow if Necessary
For attachments with a lower maximum GPM than the CTL’s, reduce the machine flow to ensure the attachment’s longevity and performance. Operators can reduce machine flow in some loaders through the cab’s display panel. This adjustment will mean the machine won’t reach 100 per cent performance, but it will allow the attachment to operate at its maximum performance. Not reducing the loader flow will put excessive force on the attachment, causing it to wear faster and reduce performance. For example, if the machine is set at 45 GPM and the attachment is designed for 40 GPM, operation will overspeed the mulching head tips and rob power. This can lead to engine bogging, excessive heat and reduced productivity.

Examine Coupler and Hose Size
Maximize flow between the CTL and its attachment with a correctly sized coupler and hoses. While adapters can be used to accommodate smaller couplers and hoses, doing so will restrict the hydraulic flow and reduce horsepower.

Adjust Preferences
Most compact track loaders have a variety of adjustments operators can make to suit their preferences. The operator’s manual has information on how to make changes. Here are a few of the common adjustments for forestry contractors:

Loader arm speed Adjust the arm speed if the arms are moving too quickly or too slowly up and down or when tilting and curling the attachment.

Creep Mode Adjust the maximum low speed depending on conditions and the amount of precision required. Some models allow operators to quickly turn off creep mode via the operator display or when shifting into two-speed. This ensures quick travel when necessary.

Flow Sharing Some compact track loaders feature an auxiliary pump with a higher hydraulic flow than the machine’s maximum GPM. This feature allows the loader to move with no reduction in attachment speed. If more CTL speed is required, operators can simply adjust flow sharing.

Taking all of this into consideration will allow for maximum machine and attachment performance and ROI on
the job.


Buck Storlie is the testing and reliability leader at ASV Holdings. His 22 years with the company give him the expertise to manage product testing, reliability and field issue resolution. He focuses on ensuring customers receive maximum productivity, durability, ROI and comfort out of their ASV machines.
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