Vanderhoof’s FreFlyt recognized for innovation in forestry

A Vanderhoof company is recognized by the B.C. government this month for their contribution to forestry.

On Feb. 7

A Vanderhoof company is recognized by the B.C. government this month for their contribution to forestry.

On Feb. 7, Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad, Vanderhoof mayor Gerry Thiessen, Ian Stephen of Canfor’s Plateau Mill, and community members gathered at FreFlyt Industries to tour its shop and check out its new, nine-axle logging truck trailer.

Their new truck and trailer combination allows for a gross vehicle weight of 71 tonnes, which represents a 16 per cent increase in payload capacity over a conventional six-axle truck-trailer configuration. The larger trailers improve the economic feasibility of hauling logs from more remote areas. This is especially true of timber damaged by the mountain pine beetle, which producers may not have chosen to bring to market previously due to the cost of transporting them longer distances.

“This is a great day for Vanderhoof,” said Vanderhoof mayor Gerry Thiessen. “It keeps jobs in towns like Vanderhoof. If you don’t see this innovation, you’ll see small communities like Vanderhoof die; it helps us stay viable as rural communities.”

Transportation accounts for about 50 per cent of the forest industry’s costs and hauling logs costs an estimated $750 million each year. Maximizing vehicle payloads could reduce costs by $2 to $4 per cubic metre of wood harvested, including reduced fuel costs.

The lower fuel use will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, since forest-sector transportation produces about 640 million kilograms of CO2 emissions each year. Fewer logging trucks on the road also will contribute to improved road safety.

Given the heavier loads that these trailers can carry, each public road where truckers want to use the trailers must be reviewed and approved to confirm that it can handle the extra weight and that the trailers can traverse the route safely. Each truck/trailer also needs to be pre-authorized by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure has tested and approved an initial trucking route in the Vanderhoof/Fort St. James area. This route provides access to the Fraser Lake, Plateau and Isle Pierre sawmills. Currently, four nine-axle trailers are being used by truckers on that route. They also have been cleared to operate on forest service roads branching off from it by Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations engineers.

The B.C. government and FPInnovations (a not-for-profit organization that researches and supports sustainable innovation in the forestry industry) are currently evaluating another four major trucking routes where the larger trailers could be used.

Up to 800 nine-axle trailers could be incorporated into logging operations in B.C., which would result in savings of $30 million to $40 million annually for B.C.’s forest industry.