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Liebherr-Rental loaders in timber handling role

Pontrilas Timber operates two sawmills on a 24 acres site near the village of Pontrilas in Herefordshire. The softwood sawmill is one of the most modern in the UK, having recently undergone a £6m refurbishment completed in 2009. It produces Kiln Dried Graded Eased Edged Timber for the construction industry as well as fencing, pallet and industrial type timbers. The hardwood sawmill, which has also been recently upgraded, is highly specialised, producing both fresh sawn and kiln-dried hardwoods with many of the processes fully automated and computerised.

A family business founded in 1947, Pontrilas Timber produces a wide range of products from virgin timber for numerous markets, including heavy industry, agriculture and horticulture, furniture and cabinetmaking, timber-frame buildings, chipboard manufacture and biofuel for energy generation. Timber brought into Pontrilas is only harvested from sustainable British resources and the company is a member of UKFPA (United Kingdom Forest Products Association), ConFor (Confederation of Forest Industries) and a proud contributor to Wood for Good, the national campaign to promote the use of timber.



Pontrilas Timber’s continuous investment in the most modern processing plant and machinery is mirrored in their approach towards the essential materials handling functions, with Liebherr wheeled loading shovels on a long-term rental contract from Liebherr-Rental now playing an important rôle in materials movement at their sawmills. Three L 5422plus1 hydrostatic drive machines are working at the mills – two equipped with log grabs and one fitted with a special high-volume quick-hitch bucket. The company is also imminently due to take delivery of a Liebherr A 924 C Litronic pick-and-carry materials handler.

Typical daily tasks for the loaders equipped with log grabs include unloading logs and taking them from the Log Grading Line to the Log Yard and then feeding the mills. Pontrilas Timber estimates that their Liebherr loaders will handle in the region of 170,000m³ annually. The grabs were manufactured specifically for this task and are 1,650mm wide, have a 1.7m³ capacity with a working load of 5 tonnes. The loader fitted with a bucket is entirely used for moving, stockpiling and loading wood chips, sawdust and bark. These quality by-products of the sawmilling operations are used in the manufacture of chipboard/mdf and as a biofuel in power generation. The special quick-hitch bucket was also specially commissioned for this particular application. Constructed entirely from Hardox steel, the bucket is 2,800mm wide with a reversible, bolted, heat-treated cutting edge and has an impressive heaped capacity of 6m³ – ideal for high-volume handling of the lightweight woodfibre materials.

The L 5422plus1 loaders working at Pontrilas are 13 tonnes class machines with a tipping load of 9,760kg and powered by a Liebherr made Stage IIIA / Tier 3 reduced emissions engine developing 105kW. The modern engine combines with the hydrostatic driveline system on the loader to produce extremely frugal fuel consumption figures, which are proving to be a huge operating benefit. Limited slip differential in both front and rear axles produces good efficient pushing power and traction whilst, at the same time, prolonging tyre life. The L 5422plus1 has a high level, isolated cooling system which is equipped with an automatically reversing fan to maintain radiator cleanliness and efficiency. For the dusty environment of timber and woodfibre handling, Liebherr has protected the machine further by fitting a top air cyclone pre-filter to the air induction system and each machine is equipped with full underbelly protection. An automatic greasing system is standard and greatly contributes to reducing maintenance time.

The operator’s cab is typically comfortable, functional and a superb example of the science of ergonomics for minimising operator fatigue and maximising productivity. Air-conditioned and with full instrumentation, the cab is safety glazed with tinted glass, sound-proofed, vibration dampened and with ROPS and FOPS protection. The steering column is fully adjustable and the attachment control is via a multi-directional joystick integrated into the seat armrest.