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GRAPPLE TRUCKS: A BUYER'S GUIDE


IMT Grapple Truck

GRAPPLE TRUCKS: A BUYER'S GUIDE TO THESE VERSATILE PICKER-UPPERS

When starting an independent tree maintenance company, especially as forestry is becoming such a lucrative market, new business-owners must ask themselves the same question: What piece of heavy equipment should I acquire first? A chip truck? A forestry bucket truck? A grapple truck?

They are all great choices, but the decision ultimately boils down to the nature of jobs you’re intending to do. Once you sort that out, the equipment you should acquire first will naturally become clear.

In previous articles, we have covered the advantages of owning a chip truck and a forestry truck.

Now, we will give you all the information necessary to understand if a grapple truck may be what you need to start – or even expand – your business.



WHAT IS A GRAPPLE TRUCK?

Simply put, a grapple truck is a truck with a knuckleboom crane (a standard crane that folds or articulates in the middle, like the joints of your fingers, to allow more flexibility of movement). A mechanical `claw’ or `jaw’ is attached at the end of the boom to grab hold of objects and lift and load them into the vehicle. In forestry work, they are indispensable equipment for cutting down and transporting large trees.

WHICH INDUSTRIES USE GRAPPLE TRUCKS?

 Tree-cutting and maintenance companies are one of the major buyers of grapple trucks.

 Municipal trash collection is another industry that needs grapple trucks, with waste handling attachments for roadside trash/debris pick up, as well as for sorting and processing at waste transfer stations.

• Durable grapples are extremely useful in the scrap collection industry, where heavy weights have to be lifted and loaded for transport without damaging the truck’s hose and hydraulics. Some grapples even come with a scrap magnet configuration to sort and separate scrap metal more efficiently.

 Railway operations use grapples to lift and load ties from the rail track that need replacing. They also deliver new ties straight from the factory to the locations where they are needed.

 Construction and demolition companies need grapples to pick up, load, and unload heavy or unwieldy material.

HOW DO FORESTRY COMPANIES USE GRAPPLE TRUCKS?

• Bypass grapple: These grapples are used for logs and designed to handle tree trunks, stumps, branches, brush etc. The shape of the grapples makes it easy to roll wood up the inner surface of the jaw and keep a strong grip on the material while shifting it.

• Grapple saw: The grapple’s job of lifting logs is further enhanced with the addition of a chainsaw device. So, while a section of the tree is being firmly held within the jaws of the grapple, the chainsaw cuts it before the knuckleboom moves the cut off section into the truck.

• Trash/Debris Grapple: These attachments scoop loose debris off the ground during a tree trimming or tree removal job.

DO ALL GRAPPLE TRUCKS COME WITH A DUMP BOX?

That is the standard practice, but they can be configured without that, so longer limbs can be lined up on the bed instead.  We can supply one of our grapples with a 16.5 ft body, because if you are going to sell the logs, most mills that process the wood do it in 8 ft sections. So, you can load 8 ft logs or 16 ft logs and carry them with half a foot of extra space.

Fassi Grapple Truck

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF GRAPPLE TRUCKS OVER CHIP TRUCKS?

IT ISN’T REALLY A MATTER OF ADVANTAGE. IT’S MORE ABOUT THE NATURE OF THE JOB THEY PERFORM.

• Firstly, chippers can only chip sections of trees that are of a certain diameter. If they are thicker, then they cannot be chipped into smaller pieces for easy loading, and a grapple truck has to come in to pick these up and carry them away.

• Another situation where chippers won’t suffice is when property owners don’t want the job done onsite. This may occur due to concerns about noise or worries that airborne wood particles could be releasing fungal spores and bacteria into the atmosphere.

• Chipper truck operations are more labor intensive. They require two operators, with one on the ground raking and picking up debris to feed into the chipper. A grapple truck does the same job faster and with just one operator manning the controls.

• Grapple trucks don’t pose the risk of an operator accidently injuring himself, a possibility when feeding brush and branches into a chipper machine. Also, the constant bending and lifting of heavy materials to feed the chipper may cause back pain, slipped discs, fractures from falls, etc.

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF USING A GRAPPLE TRUCK INSTEAD OF A CHIP TRUCK?


The most important one is volume capacity. Since grapple trucks pick up large pieces of vegetation debris, the receptacle container box gets filled quickly. In contrast, a chipper truck, which is filled with fragmented wood chips, allows for more material to be loaded inside. So, if dumping costs in your area are high, or your dump location is far away, related expenses (such as fuel) have to be taken into account.

Rotobec Grapple Truck with Dump Body

WHO MANUFACTURERS GRAPPLES?

  1. FASSI

    The Fassi engineering team has come up with innovative designs which revolutionize the very idea of “power”, which can now be controlled with greater precision and is better able to coordinate the various lifting, load handling and turning operations.

  2. ROTOBEC

    For years, Rotobec grapples have been considered the logging industry benchmark for toughness and durability. With multiple configurations available, there is a Rotobec log grapple suited for every application. Equipped with Rotobec’s own high-pressure cylinders, robust interlocking head structure, and their RT-Series watertight rotators, Rotobec developed a robust product to serve the forestry industry.

  3. IMT

    IMT grapples are developed and manufactured to deliver unparalleled quality, enduring value, and top of the line performance. Created with you in mind, IMT cranes incorporate carefully crafted details to ensure your user experience is simple, intuitive, and above all, reliable. IMT products make the job effortless, so you can rest easy.

  4. HYVA

    Hyva is one of the world’s leading providers of innovative and highly efficient transport solutions for the commercial vehicle and environmental service industries. Today, Hyva offers the strongest front-end hydraulic telescopic cylinder in the world, as well as a full range of double acting cylinders and waste collection units.

  5. PALFINGER

    Whether it is handling goods or digging, Palfinger offers the right grapple for every application. Mature technology ensures high reliability and efficiency. A large number of options also enable you to customize your grapple optimally to your daily requirements.

WHY ARE GRAPPLE TRUCKS SO USEFUL DURING HURRICANE SEASON?

Hurricane season in the United States – from June to November – is a busy time for tree management operators with grapple trucks, as they are called out to assist with the cleanup efforts.

 

When large areas have been hit by a harsh storm, working with a chipper and chip truck to remove fallen trees and windblown branches is a time-consuming process. Plus, post-hurricane debris does not just involve vegetation. Anything from living room sofas to mattresses and home appliances could be scattered around, needing removal.

Since hurricane cleanup contracts are priced by yardage, the versatile nature of what a grapple truck can pick up with the right attachments makes the job both quick and cost-effective.




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