Logging Company Implements Mobile Fueling and Service Trailer to Eliminate Wasted Time and Ensure Access to Critical Service Items
By Beau Waldrop, territory service manager, Thunder Creek Equipment
In the logging industry, nothing is wasted. Take, for instance, the typical pine log harvested by HM Williams Logging out of central Virginia. The round center of it is cut into fence posts for residential and agricultural purposes. Some logs are turned into more conventional lumber — 2x4s, 4x6s — and the rest of the tree? It’s turned into pulp for household goods and paper products.
The logging industry is a leader in fully using the material it harvests and leaving almost nothing behind to go into the waste pile.
Focusing on that efficiency on the production end of its business has helped drive HM Williams Logging’s profitability. Similarly, the company relies on efficiency on the front end of its business to make sure it’s in a good position to capitalize on the work. A big part of this is the uptime of its equipment fleet — from the bulldozers that cut in the first roads, to the feller bunchers that help process each piece of timber.
“The less breakdowns, the better,” says Hunter Williams, owner, HM Williams Logging. “The more wood you can sell in a day, the better. And all that comes into play with the equipment that we've purchased and that we're running. You just can't have breakdowns. We have to keep moving.”
One area of inefficiency the company recognized was wasted time in its fueling operations. Each site the company ran featured homemade storage tanks and 100-gallon nurse tanks on the back of pickup trucks, but they were still struck by the need for employees to make regular trips into town to get fuel and fill up a support tank.
Then, thanks to social media, Williams was hit with the solution.
“I was sitting on my couch flipping through my phone and saw an Instagram post of some big combine driving through a field and there's a truck pulling that trailer,” says Williams. “And then I started researching it more. And after talking with [Thunder Creek Territory Sales Manager] Beau Waldrop, he had a demo one, and right then and there, the quality of the build, there was no questions. I don't even think I asked what the price was. I just said, give me one and I need it tomorrow. And he did.”
The solution Williams first saw and ultimately landed on was an FST 990 fuel and service trailer from Thunder Creek Equipment, outfitted with additional fluid storage options for DEF and hydraulic oil, as well as a large utility box on the back end to house a welder/generator/air compressor, as well as a greasing kit. The primary feature of the trailer? 990 gallons of bulk diesel storage for his equipment. Diesel is delivered to the construction equipment via a 40-gallon pump and a 50-foot hose reel, which allows the trailer to be positioned at convenient spots on the logging site for optimal access.
It’s a virtual shop on wheels that ensures his crews have everything they need on site — helping ensure less downtime related to fueling, and fewer trips off site to get diesel and other service items.
“It's just been bulletproof,” says Williams. “I mean, it comes in out of the woods every day. It takes a beating. It doesn't bend, it doesn't break. And the real test is the guys haven't destroyed it yet, so I know it's pretty sweet. And these machines hold 150 gallons of fuel [each]. It just gets everybody filled up faster. Having the air compressor and all the welder all inside that unit is a one stop shop.”
I can go over there and just take that [trailer] and fill them up, which is a whole lot better than little [tanks with] a hundred gallons at a time in the back of a pickup truck. People are leaving in the middle of the day having to go get fuel and we don't have time to stop to buy fuel. We need to have the fuel on the job where the guys got it when they need it", Williams continues.
The ability to option the trailer out with many different features also drives its versatility in the field. Williams has his trailer outfitted with a proprietary 2-in-1 DEF storage and pumping system, a 30-gallon hydraulic fluid reservoir, grease kit, and a rear utility box with the welder/generator/air compressor that brings critical field service and repair solutions directly to the equipment.
“You need to weld something. The machine can pull up to that trailer and anything it needs to do, it's there,” says Williams. “There’s no stumbling looking around in a truck or toolbox. Grease, hydraulic oil, def, it's all right there.”
One of the most common options added to each Thunder Creek trailer is the company’s WorkSight LED light tower that provides light in an arc around the trailer. Williams reports that this solution works much better than the old way: pointing truck headlights at the machine being fueled and serviced.
“When you get there in the morning, you just flip that thing up and it [lights the whole area up],” says Williams. “It's safe. When you put that thing up in the mornings when it's dark at five or six, the whole deck is lit up.”
Williams now sees the Thunder Creek trailer as a critical piece of his fleet — as important as the timber-and ground-engaging equipment that does the work.
“It's like a bulldozer logging,” concludes Williams. “How do you build a road to get to the timber? You can't do it [without a dozer]. I don't know how we ever logged without [the Thunder Creek trailer]. That's the truth. There’s not many things that we've bought and that I've been so proud of — and that's been one of them.”