An important aspect of operating a tree service is making decisions regarding what types of equipment will give you faster production, a safer operation, and will minimize potential damage to the surrounding environment or property.
In this article, we will compare two tree-felling machines - the Feller-Buncher and the Sennebogen 718 Tree-handler.
In many ways, a Feller-Buncher and a SENNEBOGEN 718 have similar characteristics.
Both the Feller-Buncher and the SENNEBOGEN 718 offer dramatically improved efficiency, speed, and safety in tree removal.
However, as far as function goes, there are few major distinctions - these include terrain, reach, and dexterity.
Navigating Rough Terrain
Timber-harvesting historians credit Erv Drott with the fabrication of the first track-type Feller-Buncher in the late 1960s. While the modern Feller-Buncher is better engineered, better designed, and can handle heavier and higher loads, the basic operation of the machine has remained the same. The two major Feller-Buncher styles include the rubber-tire machine that drives up to a tree to then cut it, while the second type is a tracked machine that features a cutting head attached to a swing boom.
Feller Bunchers can be equipped with a self-leveling cab for climbing steep grade that makes them ideal in off-road situations and is particularly useful in steep right-of-way work. Certain tracked Feller-Bunchers have self-leveling cabs that can operate on roughly 30° slopes. Of course, when combining rough terrain and slope, there is a significant decrease in the machine’s capacity to handle tall or large diameter tree stands.
As any operator knows, working on a steep grade with heavy equipment can be a dangerous situation, and requires the right tool for the job.
Sennebogen 718 Tree-Handler
The 718 is the first of its kind in North America and has been in operation in Europe since 2013. It was created out of a need to cater to the urban forestry landscape that faces its own unique challenges where trees co-exist with people and property. A 718 is a nimble and versatile machine with a 45ft boom that can reach up and over, or down and under in its operations. It is ideally suited for roadside work such as storm clean up, DOT applications, improved Right of Way maintenance or commercial tree removals in urban environments. It has been applied in light forestry applications on landings, but it truly shines in an urban environment.
It is equipped with four outriggers which are used for additional stability and leveling, but extreme off-road conditions with wet or soft soil conditions would require timber mats for the rubber-tired version. The grapple saw that comes as standard equipment is capable of moving two 4x6 timbers mats at once allowing the 718 to operate in potentially soft soil conditions. This was demonstrated at a recent demo day after rain had saturated the area of operation for several days prior which can be seen in the video linked below.
Comparing Applications That Require a Greater Reach
In regard to reach, the 718 is the clear winner with its vertical 45 ft reach and horizontal 43 ft reach, weighing in at 48k lbs.
The largest of Feller-Bunchers have only 30 ft of reach, weighing in at roughly 80k lbs.
Steep slopes & embankments
- The 718 boom has the ability to reach greater distances both up and down steep slopes when needed to access trees and brush.
- The Feller-Buncher is limited, even with a leveling cab, of operating on the steepest of slopes and has limited reach below grade.
Tree Removals Along Sensitive Wetlands
- Due to its reach and the ability to cut, hold and controllably stack the tree in the desired location, the 718 makes a useful tool for removing trees along with sensitive wetland areas since it can stay far away from the cutting location.
- The Feller-Buncher would not be able to reach far out enough to do the same operation, and would not be able to drive up to the tree in these types of soil conditions.
Urban Walls, Guardrails & Sound Barriers
- Urban landscapes often have mature trees located near or under power lines. In addition, physical barriers such as guardrails, sound barriers or retaining walls will require a machine that is more nimble and features higher dexterity & precision control.
With this kind of reach, the 718 machine can remain at a distance while offering the cab operator full visibility and the type of precision maneuvering that is comparable to a human hand - able to flex with a 280-degree rotation and a tilt at an angle up to 180 degrees.
- While certainly applicable in specific roadwork applications, the Feller-Buncher is not ideal for barriers that challenge its reach.
Is the Feller-Buncher or the 718 More Versatile?
- Felling of trees in forestry applications
- Land clearing operations of large open lots
- Roadside work when no obstacles are present
- Commercial thinning operations
- Right of Way maintenance with extreme terrain
- Roadside work where obstacles are present
- Right of Way maintenance requiring a higher working range & precision control
- Steep slopes and embankment work
- Hazardous tree removal
- Urban tree removal: residential, commercial, and municipal
The Right Machine for the Job
When choosing which piece of equipment to use, it all depends on the type of work you do and the job site specifications. Neither the Feller-Buncher or the 718 can do everything, but they each excel in their own applications.
If you’re interested in learning more about the SENNEBOGEN 718, check out our 718 youtube channel playlist to see it in action and hear from our own customers about their experience with our equipment and our customer support.