Rising Up Down Under

Australian company Reid Logging achieves excellence through mechanization

A 1270E wheeled harvester fells a pine tree in a forest

1270E Wheeled Harvester

Australia may be known for the Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, and its vast outback, but it also has a rich history of logging. During the 19th century, European settlers began clearing native forests to make way for farms while supplying wood for fencing and building construction. A search for a tree that was most suitable to Australia’s climate fueled the growth of forestry plantations, especially during the 1920s and ’30s. Today most logging is done on these plantation forests, which comprise approximately half softwood (mostly pinus radiata species) and half hardwood (mostly eucalyptus species). Plantations cover two million hectares along the southeastern and southwestern coasts.

Reid Logging, located in Mount Gambier, South Australia, harvests 100,000 cubic meters of pine annually. Most of its product is sent to domestic mills, with pulpwood being exported. Founded by John Reid in 1966, the company pioneered mechanical logging in the region. In the early days, teams of 13 loggers hand-felled timber, which was cut into short 1.2-meter pulpwood before being stacked by hand onto trucks. “This process was extremely labor intensive with a high rate of injury,” says current owner Colin Reid.

Beginning in the mid-1970s, Reid Logging began mechanizing operations. In 1974, the company introduced the first forwarder on the southeastern coast, which could load 5-meter-long logs. “This resulted in far less manual handling of wood, significantly fewer injuries, and dramatically greater productivity,” says Reid. In 1978, it introduced the region’s first harvesters — two John Deere 743s — which further helped reduce accidents and increase productivity.

I’m proud that we are the first contractor to introduce mechanization and that we are known for running quality equipment.

Colin Reid
Owner, Reid Logging

By 1990, the company was completely mechanized. Today Reid Logging produces far more with only five operators than it did hand-felling with a crew of 13. The company owns two John Deere 1270E Harvesters, a Deere 1910E Forwarder, two Deere 1710D Forwarders, and a Hitachi 250 Log Loader. “I’m proud that we are the first contractor to introduce mechanization and that we are known for running quality equipment,” says Reid.

Recently the company received the top award at the inaugural Green Triangle Timber Industry Awards, along with the prize for harvesting excellence. The Green Triangle represents Australia’s largest collective plantation and timber-processing industry, with more than 355,000 hectares of plantations. The award recognized Reid Logging for its investment in the latest innovative technology, high quality of work, and impeccable safety record. “We’ve worked hard to earn a reputation for high quality and output, and I’m honored to have received this recognition,” Reid says.

He is also optimistic about the outlook for Australia’s forestry industry. “Logging in Australia has a history of longevity and stability, and today our markets are expanding. Our future looks bright.”

Sources: Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences; Hitachi Construction Machinery.