Nearly 40 years ago, T-MAR Industries got its start rebuilding equipment for British Columbia’s logging contractors. Today, the operator-owned business is building its own innovative products to move wood quickly, safely and efficiently in some of the world’s most challenging and dangerous logging conditions.
T-MAR’s Log Champ brand of swing yarders is popular in steep-slope logging, where mountainous, often rocky terrain makes it impossible to move felled trees to the roadside using traditional equipment. Swing yarders feature a winch and a series of cables attached to a grapple, which picks up the logs and “yards” them more than a thousand feet to a safe location where they can be loaded onto trucks for transport.
Launched in 2014, T-MAR’s Log Champ 550 and 650, powered by Cat® C9.3B and C15 engines, respectively, quickly gained a foothold with steep-slope logging customers in Canada and New Zealand. That’s due to an all-new design that moves wood faster than other brands and a host of operator productivity, comfort and safety features — including a built-in camera system that eliminates the need for an on-the-ground spotter. Both yarders also are equipped with Cat transmissions and undercarriage.
A third model, the Log Champ 625 with a C13B engine, is in development for operations that require a longer-reach yarder, primarily in Oregon and Washington. And T-MAR is exploring the use of drone technology to fly cables over valley floors, making steep-slope logging even safer.
Moving from rebuilding and remanufacturing equipment to designing and building its own products wasn’t a huge stretch for T-MAR — more than 30 years of working on others’ logging machines gave the company unique insight into what worked well and what could be improved. Logging customers, on the other hand, needed reassurance. “They had all sorts of questions about the machines, but when they learned we had selected Cat products for the power train, there was a high degree of comfort with that decision,” says Tyson Lambert, T-MAR’s vice president. “It was a good selling point for our new machine.”
Special product, special relationship. It wasn’t just brand reputation that sold T-MAR on Caterpillar, though. It was also the willingness from their Cat dealer, Finning Cat, to collaborate on the design, generating confidence that a Cat power train would work well in difficult logging applications. That process continues as T-MAR builds new yarders. An in-house engineering team handles the design but looks to Finning for expertise on engine options, accessories and emissions configurations along with a final 3D model. “T-MAR has to be very adaptable, because half its business is in Tier 3 emissions regions and the rest is in Tier 4 Final/Stage V,” says Kevin Reimer, power systems account manager at Finning.
No time for failure. Six years into the relationship, Cat engines are performing as promised for T-MAR’s customers. Swing yarders are a logging operation’s prime movers. Most sites rely on a single yarder, and those sites often are located in isolated areas accessible only by boat or airplane. That means machine — and engine — reliability is crucial. “Not all engines are created equal. Cat engines are built for tough applications, and we’ve never had one fail,” Lambert says.
Support for the duration. Parts and service availability is key given the remoteness of most steep-slope logging sites, and also key is the longevity of the equipment. Many operations will run a swing yarder for 30 years or more, which means replacement parts need to be stocked decades after the engine was first manufactured. “Caterpillar has an advantage because of its dealer network, and they also have a tradition of supporting their products for a very long time compared to just about any other manufacturer,” Lambert says.
See what other Cat industrial engine customers have to say about our engines and related products, and the support they receive from the Cat dealer network.