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Innovative firm has focus on safety

Tom O'Leary Dec 12
Innovative firm has focus on safety
Moutere Logging is one of New Zealand’s larger contractors harvesting about 850,000 cubic metres per year.

Making the forest industry safer and a better place to work is a core focus for Dale Ewers, founder and Managing Director of award winning Moutere Logging Ltd.

“Essentially we’re a mechanised logging company,” says Dale. “Our incident frequency rate is declining rapidly and we’re almost flat-lining just sitting above zero in the key areas of cutting up on the landing, breaking out and tree falling.”

Celebrating 30 years in operation, Moutere Logging is based just out of Nelson in Brightwater, with nine logging crews in the top of the South Island, including Marlborough, and a further six crew working forests in the lower North Island.

Employing a team of 220 staff across the country, Moutere Logging is one of New Zealand’s larger contractors harvesting about 850,000 cubic metres per year.

“By the end of next year we’ll be retrieving trees by the push of a button; by 2022 we’ll be harvesting by the push of a button. By 2025 our goal is to log from afar-harvesting trees from our office.”

From cutting down his first substantial pine tree at the age of 12 with his father’s Stihl 45, leaving school at 14 to work in forestry falling trees and making posts under contract, to mortgaging his house and establishing Moutere Logging aged 23, being inspired by Dale’s progress comes easy.

Reflecting on the growth of the business that he and his wife Christine have developed through sheer hard work Dale says it’s not about how big the company is, it is about how well the company is and well it looks after people.

“I’ve read a few business books in my time and there’s a book called ‘The Leader Who Had No Title’, by Robin Sharma. It’s about being the best you can be at what you do while you are here.”Mother Teresa is quoted in that book saying ‘if everybody cleaned there own doorstep imagine how clean the world would be.’

“So what I want to do is change the logging industry for the better and that’s where my innovation and ideas come from. As well as logging, we manufacture equipment that make the industry safer, selling it all over the world.”

One of Moutere Logging’s key developments is the Falcon Forestry Claw—a motorized grapple carriage, designed to eliminate ‘break out’ accidents.“Men sit inside a protective cab on the top of the hill with a TV screen and control the grapple sending it down the hill and lowering the rope over the top of the tree.

“The push of a button and the hydraulic grapple shuts, pulling the tree out.”About 65 Falcon Forestry Claws have been sold worldwide with the 100th winch assist machine about to start production.

Add to the list of innovations; fully computerized log haulers, camera systems and a carriage still in the prototype stage that runs down the hill, grabs a tree, cuts it down and brings it back up the hill controlled by a human 700 metres away and it’s clear Dale is making a difference to the forestry safety.

“We used to manually fall 80% of our wood and now we manually fall 10%. “I was recently in Chile and talking to one of the major forestry company’s managers and he said, ‘Dale it’s an absolute credit to what you’re doing, you’re actually changing the forest industry internationally for the better.’ I was really humbled by that comment.”

Moutere Logging’s contribution to the industry was recently recognised with the health a safety award at this years Top of the South Forestry Awards for its development of the Falcon Forestry Claw.

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