The ‘Miller Timber Way’ Works with Ponsse ALL the Way

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Miller Timber Services, Inc. exclusively uses Ponsse for all it”s cut-to-length operating equipment. Because of their combined partnership this provides them with a mutually gratifying opportunity in the logging and reforestation industry of the state of Oregon.

Philomath, Oregon – “Getting the job done whatever it takes” is the Miller Timber Way and that is at the heartbeat of Miller Timber Services, Inc. A 30-year old company, Miller timber is built on the traditions and heritage of the West. Miller Timber prides itself on upholding the Miller family heritage, which began in the small town of Siletz, Ore. Through the years, Miller Timber has relied on Ponsse equipment to power its cut-to-length operations.

Everyone in the company is called to “Ride for the brand.” They look out for one another. They watch each others’ backs.

“No matter who you are in the company, each of us is called upon to work together as a team. Everyone is encouraged to do the right thing. Quality performance, hard work, dedication, loyalty and teamwork serve as their bedrock guiding principles. We just do what needs to be done,” explained Dan Mace, cut-to-length division manager for Miller Timber Services.

Miller Timber Services, Inc. is comprised collectively of three companies – Miller Timber Services, Inc., Miller Timber Logging, Inc., and L & B Reforestation, Inc. By focusing on best-value forest management and the preservation, protection, and sustainability of forestlands, Miller Timber Services, in conjunction with a variety of subcontractors, provide a wide array of capabilities. This includes professional forestry services, reforestation, fuel reduction/management, forest road construction, logging/harvesting and wildland firefighting. The strength of Miller Timber Services comes from having a diversified business model.

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Located on 9.89 acres, Miller Timber Services is comprised of nine buildings including: a 2,975 sq. ft. office where the company’s administrative duties are conducted, a 3,615 sq. ft. full-service shop in which five qualified mechanics work on the company’s vast regalia of equipment; an 1,850 sq. ft. fire cache and crew assembly room where fire supplies and crew gear are housed; and five other out buildings, totaling 7,200 sq. ft., that provide storage space for essential business operations, supplies,

and equipment.

Miller Timber Services employs 100 to 105 full-time staff among its three companies; however, the actual number of employees at any given time can vary depending on the season. The company’s cut-to-length operations employ 14-16 employees. Ten of these employees operate Ponsse equipment. These operators work 10-hour days five days per week, with one hour each day being dedicated to daily maintenance, which is also performed by the operators. Project load, weather conditions and holiday schedule determine when extra hours need to be worked.

Miller Timber’s expanding cut-to-length operations started out targeting the small log market with diameters up to 24 inches and lengths up to 24 feet. Now, with the addition of the new line of Ponsse processers and forwarders, diameters up to 29 inches on the butt, and lengths to 32 feet can be effectively harvested. Using mainly conifers, Miller Timber depends largely on the mills with whom it has purchasing agreements. The species of wood harvested varies, depending on the geographic location of operations. For example, the western side of the state is predominately Douglas Fir and alder, while central and eastern Oregon can be Ponderosa Pine, Lodge-pole Pine, White Fir, and cedar.

Miller Timber uses the cut-to-length system as an approach to increase the return on saw and non-saw log volumes that are recovered from the stands. Unlike conventional ground-based systems, the products are fully suspended during the removal process. The cut-to-length approach eliminates the need for landings, the burning of landing slash, and soil disturbance associated with conventional tractor logging. This approach is highly effective when the in-the-woods harvesters are coupled with forwarders.

The company’s cut-to-length equipment line-up is exclusively Ponsse. Its equipment includes one six-wheeled Ergo harvester with H73 harvesting head, three eight-wheeled Ergo harvesters with H7 harvesting head, four Buffalo King forwarders, and one Bear harvester with H8 harvesting head. Miller Timber plans to purchase additional Ponsse equipment in the future.

“Ponsse is state-of-the-art technology in mechanical forest harvesting,” said Dan. Miller Timber finds it optimal to pair up one harvester and one forwarder per side, called a “team”, to perform thinning operations in stands of varying density.

Ponsse’s on-board computers enable accurate dimensioning of saw and non-saw log materials, while minimizing waist of wood fiber and environmental impact.

In-the-woods harvesters fall, limb, and buck trees into logs in the stand. During the processing operation forwarding trails are established at 60’ intervals. Limbs, tops and brush are pulled into forwarding trails as a protective cushion to minimize soil disturbance, while accelerating the nutrient cycle process. Forwarders are used to pick up logs from the forest and transport them to the roadside, thus eliminating the need to establish landings. Saw and non-saw-logs are sorted into decks along the haul road, where they will be loaded onto trucks and delivered to local mills for processing.

Miller Timber Services will operate with two to four teams of cut-to-length equipment per work site, depending on the time of year and the scope of the job. Its cut-to-length operations can also be performed on four separate job sites simultaneously during the peak season throughout the state of Oregon. Customers include private landowners, small woodland owners and government agencies including: Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and the Oregon Department of Forestry. Logs are delivered to mills throughout the state using short loggers, commonly referred to as mule-trains.

Miller Timber Services and its sister companies use many different types of equipment, not including its additional all-terrain and passenger vehicles and fire engines. Four of its six dozers are John Deere 650G Crawlers or 850B or BLT. Komatsu excavators, PC 200 and 300 series, with Waratah or Log Max harvesting heads are among some of the 22 pieces of equipment used in its yarder and loading equipment sector. But Ponsse’s equipment by far has rung true to its motto as being Miller Timber Services’ ‘Loggers best friend’ for its cut-to-length operations.

Miller Timber has owned other machines manufactured by other equipment companies to service the cut-to-length operations. The company’s first Ponsse harvester, the 6-wheeled Ergo equipped with an H73 harvesting head, was purchased in 2004.

Miller Timber selected Ponsse for a host of reasons,” said Dan. “The list includes equipment design, engineering, product quality and reliability, and service and support after the sale. And interestingly enough, we would agree with the motto of Ponsse being a ‘logger’s best friend.’ But with a twist.”

According to Dan, Ponsse has a “unique harvest methodology, filling a unique niche in the industry.” Similarly, Miller Timber follows its own unique approach when it comes to serving their clients.

“Members of our cut-to-length division refer to what we do more as ‘silvaculture’ than logging,” Dan explained. “While product removal is vitally important, the service we provide recognizes the importance of the residual stand. The term ‘silvaculture’ is defined as ‘the agriculture of trees—how to grow them, how to maximize growth and return, and how to manipulate tree species compositions to meet landowners objectives. Silva is the science, art and practice of caring for forest with respect to human objectives.”

Even with the differing methodologies, Ponsse, located in Rhinelander, Wis., and Miller Timber Services share a positive regard toward one another and the way they distinctively contribute to the logging industry.

“Our business relationship with Ponsse has been and is a very positive experience,” said Dan. “We share a mutual respect and think in terms of partnership versus the traditional client vendor relationship.”

Ponsse is what it takes to get the job done for Miller Timbers’ cut-to-length division. And, it is successful because everyone is on the same team.