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Westwood

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    Senior Member, Raffle Sponsor 2015

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  1. 2000 bags plus accessories (about 3000 bags kindling 2000 firelighters etc) requires delivering and at this time of year it requires 12 hour days and occupies 1.5 drivers and 0.5 people scheduling and order processing. For weeks we have been delivering 20 bags a day from one truck (next capital expenditure is a second truck) but even if we had a second truck we would still need 1.5 people plus a half time scheduler. We have to bag up from the drying crates ( nearly 1000 cube in crates , 500+ 2m cube crates at any one time) - we need to get better at this but just moving crates around and tipping for a couple of hours at 4 bags per fill takes people - in between loading the truck and bagging up kiln dried and netting up nets and filling barrow bags. This is not all about processing and how big your machine is. just for the record we can do 8-10 cube an hour of 25cm logs with no stoppages on high spec sorted timber. That does not equate to 80 cube a day because timber is not perfect blockages have to be sorted a 6 meter log deck needs to be loaded, sawdust, waste and filled crates have to be removed and replaced.. In the summer we drop back to 2.5 people - but two people have to manage the machine the other is doing summer deliveries. You are right we have too much low grade and out of spec timber which is what we sub-contract out. Our small machine (20ton Trackmet) is fine on ringed up arb waste but very slow on small diameter timber. There is no doubt that small spec timber can be dealt with more effectively by 2 person teams not distracted by customers and delivery schedules. i have no doubt we are not perfect - we are very clear about our target market. Our customers want a choice of season type and wood species and are prepared to pay a premium if necessary. We deliver from a 4 meter crane on the back corner of the truck and drop bags wherever they want them within reason including into garages and over hedges - we don't loose tip.. We use low cost delivery builders bags and leave them with the customer. We are probably running at a bit higher than 2000 cube a year at the moment, last year was 1300 cube. We do see increased business next year forcing some capital expenditure but there are some big decisions around processing. There are a large number of people in the industry who nationally distribute but don't cut a log and indeed probably don't run a truck. We have 500 tons of cord timber on site at any one time of various specs and ages - the space for that means we have to transport it around the site. I think if you have to load and unload the forwarder onto the log deck it does not matter if you have to transport it a few hundred yards. We almost certainly cannot get much bigger without kilns or without increasing bought in volumes - 1400-2000 cube air drying is a nightmare whereas buying in or kiln drying can be more "just in time". How have others found it?
  2. We do about 2000 loose cubic meters per year. about 30% Kiln Dried from eastern Europe. We have been running retail about 5 years after a couple of years supplying rings to wholesale. We own 100 acres of mixed woodland but most processing that we do comes from adjacent estates in 3 meter lengths processor ready and increasingly tight spec for our Fuelwood firewood factory. Our prices per cube range from £80 to £125. We sell a range of accessories kindling, firelighters coal etc. Our average order value is about £120 per cubic meter. From our observation the majority of firewood retailers in the small to medium range either do it as a sideline to a day job or as a sideline to an existing business such as Tree Surgery or Farming. Sideliners have minimal overheads and capital expenditure, existing businesses have shared overheads such as barns and equipment. As a stand alone business as we are you can either be very small with minimum investment or invest heavily to grow the business and achieve economies of scale which is the path we have chosen. We have up to 3 people full time and occasional helpers. We know exactly the margins on bought in product. Capital and operating costs on sales marketing and distribution again are well known and profitability depends on volume. What is much more difficult to get a handle on is processing costs for bought in timber - we have two processors one for volume and one for small stuff and arb waste. It is really clear small stuff and arb waste has much higher cost. We now avoid this or sub-contract it out to others as we do felling and forwarding in our own woodland. Most of our business is from an developed base of about 600 customers within 20 miles of our site - about 70% comes from our website. We contact the base about 4 times a year for promotional purposes. Agree with GDH about the hidden nature of expenditure - this is very true in processing which drives the majority of capital requirements. We do not operate kilns so we do not get the benefit of RHI - we operate forced air drying to supplement natural seasoning. just a few thoughts to add to the debate - be very interested in what others think - do you get out of processing altogether or are you supported by RHI. How do you get profitability up on distribution - smaller area, fewer drops, larger trucks?
  3. A very interesting thread.

     

    We do about 2000 loose cubic meters per year. about 30% Kiln Dried from eastern Europe.  

     

    We have been running retail about 5 years after a couple of years supplying rings to wholesale.

     

    We own 100 acres of mixed woodland but most processing that we do comes from adjacent estates in 3 meter lengths processor ready and increasingly tight spec for our Fuelwood firewood factory.

     

    Our prices per cube range from £80 to £125.  We sell a range of accessories kindling, firelighters coal etc.

     

    Our average order value is about £120 per cubic meter.

     

    From our observation the majority of firewood retailers in the small to medium range either do it as a sideline to a day job or as a sideline to an existing business such as Tree Surgery or Farming.  Sideliners have minimal overheads and capital expenditure, existing businesses have shared overheads such as barns and equipment. 

     

    As a stand alone business as we are you can either be very small with minimum investment or invest heavily to grow the business and achieve economies of scale which is the path we have chosen.  We have up to 3 people full time and occasional helpers.

     

    We know exactly the margins on bought in product.  Capital and operating costs on sales marketing and distribution again are well known and profitability depends on volume.  What is much more difficult to get a handle on is processing costs for bought in timber - we have two processors one for volume and one for small stuff and arb waste.  It is really clear small stuff and arb waste has much higher cost.  We now avoid this or sub-contract it out to others as we do felling and forwarding in our own woodland.

     

    Most of our business is from an developed base of about 600 customers within 20 miles of our site - about 70% comes from our website.  We contact the base about 4 times a year for promotional purposes.

     

    Agree with GDH about the hidden nature of expenditure - this is very true in processing which drives the majority of capital requirements.  We do not operate kilns so we do not get the benefit of RHI - we operate forced air drying to supplement natural seasoning.  

     

    just a few thoughts to add to the debate - be very interested in what others think - do you get out of processing altogether or are you supported by RHI.  How do you get profitability up on distribution - smaller area, fewer drops, larger trucks?

     

    1. Steve Bullman

      Steve Bullman

      I think you posted this in the wrong place 

    2. Westwood

      Westwood

      Hi Steve

       

      I thought I was responding to Cessna's post on volumes shipped - how do I move it from here?

  4. Hi - we require a mobile processor and operator to process quantity of easy stock - straight, easy to lift manually. Could be up to 10 days work - up to you. Call on 07769642555 or send pm. Cut to 3-6 feet no log deck required.
  5. HI Dan You are right - the splitta infeed loop is just on 400 but the size of round has to be perfect to get through! The Cutta is up to 430 but we are careful to avoid oversize rounds getting jammed in the splitta - splitta jams and bent timber on the infeed most time consuming problems at the moment! We are in Hertfordshire - where are you based.
  6. Hi Bustergasket Just following this old thread and great to see another Fuelwood Factory enthusiast. We have a 2016 Woodcutta fed by a 6 meter Japa log deck with a 360 Splitta and 4.2 meter output conveyor through a log cleaner directly into log boxes for storage and seasoning. We line up 5 by 2 cube logboxes and arc the conveyor across them as we cut to minimise halts - when we have done 10 cube we use a telehandler to move and stack the boxes and replace for the next session. We have a Japa dust remover which feeds into a bay of 4 bulk bags to remove sawdust. We fill a bag from 10 logboxes. Really interesting what you have done. Our machine will have incorporated many of the modifications you have figured out and fitted - when I am next in the yard I will be rushing round with a tape measure but I feel sure we are not getting 400mm timber through the combination. The input to the Splitta has been made taller but the size of the ring is governed by the loop on the input shute which I think maximises the ring at 380mm or so. The input to the woodcutter is limited by the oversize detectors and the input feed which I think is set at 400 max (probably 380 practical given very straight timber). The reason for the focus on size is that quality and volume seems to be absolutely dictated by the timber size fed. We specify 200-400mm timber in accepting that some of the larger pieces we will have to ring up. The machine seems to operate best with 2 people at least one making sure the logs are fed properly and the next log is fed in to the preceding log to push the last pieces through. The other is helping keep the boxes clear and sawdust and rubbish removed and restacking the log deck. We also ring up from our own forest but even with two people it is substantially less productive than putting timber through the Woodcutta. We find that timber less than 200 creates too much rubbish and small logs through the Splitta. We collect this from the cleaner into four bags as we rotate the conveyor. Approximately 15 logboxes (30 cube) will produce 4 cube of small logs, kindling and scraps. On quite days this is sorted into small logs and kindling and bagged for sale - about 50% is waste. The quantity of waste is halved by larger logs - is that your experience? We have just started using the machine for kindling as an experiment. We have a conversion from 250mm to 150mm in length of ring - we find customers will buy in both sizes. It is early days experimenting with this but initial results are encouraging - conversely we find smaller rings produce less waste with kindling! There is a lot of waste on bigger rings due to twisting in the splitter. I think a lot of this is down to experience or lack of which we found with the logs. Worth persevering though. Interested in your latest experience and comments Dave
  7. Me too have two Granbergs set up for different chains with diamond stones - easy for a quick sharpen in the field or a more precise one on the bench.
  8. I am selling a 30 ton PTO powered Posch Splitmaster with 3 heads no log lifter if still looking?
  9. I must admit I cannot understand how someone of 17 (is it?) can drive a rig of this size and power on public roads without an HGV licence or any form of test other than for a car. Everybody understands the need for farmers to get grain from field to yard but if a Sainsburys artic (about the same size) decided to use a road like this there would be hell to pay - and the driver would have needed an HGV licence of whatever level. The odd thing is my site is on a road where to the right is a normal two lane road and to the left it rapidly narrows to a single track road with passing places. I occasionally collect timber from the adjacent farm with a tractor and trailer by turning right for about 600 yards and then to his yard - because we are inexperienced I always escort my driver. I would never turn left even in my 3.5 ton truck even though I could save a mile to customers in that direction. In my view at the very least on single track roads where there is no alternative they should escort ahead - otherwise they take the long road round or not make the trip. As I understand it the use of a beacon is not obligatory as is the attachment of number plates to the rear of the trailer. I was astounded at the arrogance of the other party and the fact the police were not interested. I suppose if I was travelling on that road I ought to be able to stop whatever the obstruction or circumstances is the argument. My argument is that using rigs of this size on roads like this brings obligations driven by common sense if not common law.....
  10. Same thing happened to me a couple of months back - just getting dusk very similar road with overhanging trees. Same size tractor - grain trailer two or three times the size - estimated 65 ft long with the tractor and completely blocked the road. I could not believe it and immediately put my car in the hedge - the lad put two wheels of the tractor into the hedge on the other side and with the trailer at about 20 degrees drove on - I looked out of my window at the trailer towering over my car with about 6-9 inches to spare. I turned round and followed him - there were no beacons on the cab and no number plate on the trailer. I stopped him at his farm and we exchanged views - he thought I was driving too fast and I thought it was lunacy bringing a rig that size up that road. called the next day and he refused to exchange insurance details because there had been no collision. I had a £2000 bill for repairs to my car. Made a detailed written complaint to the police and they said in a written response they would take no action. Spoke to a farmer friend of mine who said there was effectively no restrictions or obligation to provide escorts, beacons or number plates, they could go where they like because they have to be able to access any fields. Not much more to say. I am definitely fitting dashcams to all our vehicles.
  11. Some really good videos. Verypoorfarmer really interested in how you are getting on with the Trakmet. I agree on straight wood to your specification at 500mm and diameters up to 18inch (9 inch diameter logs) with someone else loading the log deck you can easily get 6 cube an hour. The log diameter will vary from 5-12 inches depending on how good you are with managing the splitter height. That's excellent for my log boiler but the 250mm demanded by my customers at 4-5 inch maximum would take 2-3 times as long. If you take into account loading the deck, resplitting, clearing the splitter head and removing the chaff, adjusting and sharpening the saw chain (a challenge on that machine), you are back to my estimate of 1-2 cube an hour loose output. You did ask the original question relating to charges - there are not that many log boilers around even now and most self supply as I do. The majority of the market is wood burners and they need the smaller specification logs. William Petts shows some excellent videos. I use the Trakmet as I did the Dalen as a splitter and in terms of straight throughput from ringed up arb waste they are both very fast You do have to ring the wood up however and that impacts on the speed - its just about a second person flat out. You would also have to resplit a fair amount and your customers are clearly quite happy with larger diameter logs. As one person operation 50% time ringing up and 50% time splitting I would agree 5 cube loose an hour could be achieved to the log size demonstrated. That's 10 cube if someone else is splitting and feeding the belt. I used to do 30 cube containers of ringed up wood to wholesale and it would take us 10-12 hours two people to ring up and load 30 cube of loose rings. Using a crane, tractor and two big chainsaws. My customers would get about 50-60 bags out of this using vertical splitters. So say 50 bags in 20-24 man hours that's 2 or 3 loose cube a person/hour ringing up. I am not challenging what you guys are are doing - in many ways I am testing my throughput as I set out in previous posts - you are either much more efficient than my operation or doing substantially differently. I am rethinking my log diameter and testing it with my customers for instance.
  12. On the contrary it was a constructive post. We have reduced the ram movement to about 32.5cm to reduce the free movement before it hits the log. Trakmet is I think fairly typical in throughput to chainsaw operated processors with a direct drop into the splitting chamber - I would expect machines with a separate splitting chamber and circular saw to be faster. I think the big difference is with these machines that have 12 way or box knives in two ways - the number of logs produced and the consistency of profile but also these splitters tend to operate in a shaft where it is not possible for small logs and debris get wedged underneath. With the Trakmet and the Dalen the 6 and 8 way star splitters cannot produce consistent logs with a variation in input material size. You have to have very consistent sized sorted straight and unbranched material if you are not to get a variation between 100 and 200mm diameter logs. This is not acceptable to our customers. I do quite a few for wholesale to burner suppliers and they check the bag for rubbish and oversize. If we were processing 4 meter perfect logs all 250mm diameter I dare say we could get up to 5 bags (say 5 loose cube) an hour but life is not like that. Remember we do process straight into bags. If we were processing to 500mm length and not worrying about oversize the limiting factors would be loading and stacking. Trakmet do not do a 12 way - we are looking at producing one with a local welding shop. There are so many inconsistencies in comparing operator and machine performance - if you look at the pile above for the burner market there would be a fair proportion of oversize. Its probably fine for the open fire market - I know a farmer who produces huge logs by comparison but does not sell very many! If you are processing into a pile its quicker but we sell in bags because that's what our customers want. How many bags an hour can be produced per man from a pile sorting for oversize and discarding rubbish. If I was looking for product consistency and performance I would choose a machine with a box splitter, and a separate system for removing the rubbish. And I would go out and buy artic loads of specified 250mm logs at 4 meters. Birch is excellent for that. Ash tends to be varied in size and not quite straight but makes fantastic firewood. Interesting stuff . It may be we are too sensitive about product consistency.
  13. I am really intrigued by this thread and others on processor throughput. I have had a Trakmet 450 for a little over a year. It has a log deck is semi automatic with a 25 ton ram. Prior to that I had use of an older Dalen. We split for retail - I have a 75 acre woodland with management plan and felling licence. Most of the wood is ash with some oak and beech. We load direct from the forest after 1 year seasoning and split directly into bags for the next year. I work on 2 bags per solid cube and three bags per tonne. We split as standard to 25cm and try to maintain plus or minus 5 cm. The wood is graded between deck loads of 10-20cm and 20-40cm. We use a 8 way splitter. We find customers have preferences on log size but are pretty adamant about log diameter at 10-12cm max for burners. This is our major market. With two people and the larger diameter logs we can produce about 2 bags an hour - I am saying that because stops to reposition logs, clear dust, clean output conveyor, adjust saw make it difficult to be exact. One guy is loading the deck, repositioning logs clearing rubbish removing oversize for resplit and stacking bags. On the larger logs about 50% is resplit - this is strangely enough the most productive with 2-3 bags an hour achievable. Having done 600 bags in the last year our experience is that to get a consistent product from natural hardwood selected for length and minimum bends from that processor two bags an hour is good. If its arb waste short lengths and twisty budget on one bag. We do not split into a heap because the machine does not remove chips and dust from the conveyor and you get left with a pile of unsaleable stuff at the bottom. I would have thought a hire service would encounter material like ours or worse unless its all larch or straight softwood where much higher rates could be achieved. Equally if you cut to 500mm and don't worry about diameter much higher rates can be achieved. Wish you luch and would be interested in the experience of others.
  14.  

    <p>Yup, that's fine. </p>

    <p>Steve</p>

     

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