One piece of equipment can’t fit every vegetation management need. In fact, there are at least three at the top of any forestry company’s equipment acquisition list: chip trucks, bucket trucks, and grapple trucks.
Each perform a unique task. Chip trucks chop tree limbs and branches into small, transportable pieces before hauling them offsite. Forestry trucks enable tree-cutting crews to be safely lifted off the ground. Grapple trucks use mechanical `claws’ or `jaws’ that are attached at the end of knuckle booms to grab hold of large, felled wood sections and load them into the vehicle.
While the general function of any grapple truck is basically the same, the difference comes in the shape and application of the jaws or grapple attachments. Each is specifically designed to grab onto different kinds of wood debris. In this article, we will discuss some of the most popular ones in forestry applications.
#1: Grapple Buckets
Also known as flat-bottom grapples, these have a scrape-and-scoop functionality. They scrape the ground and load the tree bits and pieces into a bucket for efficient clean-up and disposal. The dimensions of the tree debris that a bucket grapple can pick up are limited by its size. Some do have cutaway end plates to allow for loads with larger widths, but typically, if the pieces are big, you’re better off switching to a lumber grapple.
#2: Root Grapples
These have tines that are usually spaced about 8 inches apart. So, when they pass close to the ground, the unwanted dirt they pick up slips between the tines. Therefore, only roots and branches are caught by these grapple attachments.
#3: Rock Grapples
As the name suggests, the job of this style of grapple is to pick up rocks. The tines are closer together than on a root grapple – about 3 inches apart. This provides better `raking’ capability for land clearing.
#4: Log Grapples
Used to pick and haul long cuts of lumber, the shape of these jaws is just right to grab hold of single, large and heavy logs or a bundle of smaller ones in one `bite’. This grapple attachment’s load-carrying capacity is about 40,000 lbs. This is decent heavy lifting to quickly remove sizable log pieces.
#5: Bunching Grapples
These are grapples with single cylinders and bypassing jaws that use a large gripping area to scoop up short logs in portable `bunches’. They are very useful to unload timber at the roadside or to feed wood-chippers and grinders at the job site.
#6: Grapple Saws
Grapple saws improve safety conditions at tree-cutting sites by doing the sawing work instead of hoisting a crew member off the ground to do it. Once done, these same grapple attachments grab and deposit the cut wood wherever it needs to go.