Lahner Forst and PrimeTech
A Winning Partnership
Andreas Lambacher (Sales Director at PrimeTech), Alexander and Christian Lahner
Q: You and your brother, Christian Lahner, founded Lahner Forst GmbH in 2008, a certified forestry company in Leimen in Rheinland-Pfalz after ten years in the timber-felling and logging-contracting industry. How did it happen?
A: Our Dad was already working in the forestry industry and, when we were kids, we sometimes helped out with light tasks such as peeling tree-trunks. After finishing school, we started our own company and right from the outset, we decided to concentrate mainly on mechanization rather than rely on manual labour, to increase efficiency. Secondly, we wanted to go beyond offering the basic run-of-the-mill services, such as tree felling and logging, and create as many added-value services as possible. By investing in mechanization from the outset, our productivity has increased and we’re able to work faster. Over the years, our orders have increased and our business has grown.
Q: What is the current focus of your business?
A: Lahner Forst has developed into more than just an ordinary forestry business. Although we’re still involved in normal mechanical/manual felling and reverse-cutting operations, our business also extends to the design and implementation of road-safety solutions such as traffic-control and road barrier systems. We’re also involved in land-clearing, sourcing and supply of fuel wood, road maintenance services, supply of power-lines to energy corporations as well as timber transport and trading. We rely heavily on mechanization and we make use of forest-harvesters, long-range forwarders, timber trucks, excavators, tractors and specialized forestry machines such as skidders, mulchers and woodchippers.
Q: How many people do you employ?
A: Our workforce is currently around 70 persons.
Q: For the past five years now, you’ve been using tracked vehicles produced by the Italian manufacturer, PrimeTech (FAE Group), for your mulching and milling operations. How and when did you come across this company?
A: It was by chance that we came across FAE at the INTERFORST Munich Trade Fair in 2014. At the time, we were in the market for a skid-steer mulcher. We already had two smaller machines imported from North America, but customer support for those machines had practically been discontinued in Germany, so we had no choice but to look for an alternative. Initially, we were also interested in snow groomers with mulching attachments, but their light frame was a problem. And then we came across what we were looking for at INTERFORST, at the PrimeTech / FAE Group stand, where they had a demo PT-175. We took note of the high-quality workmanship, user-friendly design and easy serviceability. After that, everything went very quickly. We visited the factory in Italy where they demonstrated the PT-175 for us, exceeding our expectations in terms of productivity and off-road capability, especially on steep slopes. It seemed obvious that we had to go with FAE.
Q: How many skid-steer mulchers have you bought from PrimeTech over the past five years?
A: So far, we’ve purchased two PT-175’s and two PT-300’s.
Q: What do you use them for mainly?
A: We mainly use them for powerlines, roadside maintenance, agricultural soil preparation, ecological restoration, land clearing and cultural landscape preservation projects.
Q: How would you describe the main applications of each model?
A: It depends on the diameter of the trunks, the width of the tracks and the volume of vegetation or undergrowth to be mulched. For trunks of up to 20 cm diameter, we primarily use the PT-175, while the PT-300 can handle trees up to 40 cm as well as rootstocks without any problems. Basically, the PT-175 is suited to lighter tasks while the PT-300 can handle heavier work.
Mulching is a cost-effective way of preparing soil for planting or removing bush and shrubbery. The machines clear and shred trees or bush in a single operation. Even rootstocks up to 40 cm in diameter can be removed with this technique. Shredded material is then spread evenly across the ground as wood chip, which helps to prevent erosion and water evaporation. This also protects the soil from drying out and inhibits the regrowth of weed and unwanted grass, thus creating the optimal conditions for subsequent reforestation.
Q: Do the machines also function well on steep slopes and in extreme conditions?
A: We operate on steep slopes in many of our operations and it’s a big advantage that the PT-300 can operate in all directions even on 45° (100 %) gradients. We’re often confronted with wet and swampy ground conditions and thanks to an extremely low ground pressure of around 0.30 kg/cm2, the PT-300 can handle it and other kinds of difficult terrain. The oscillating undercarriage and robust frame of the PT-300 enables it to adapt to uneven surfaces and difficult terrain, which also increases driver comfort. The PT-175, on the other hand, is a highly manoeuvrable and very compact machine weighing less than ten tonnes and is particularly easy to transport.
Q: And what about productivity?
A: The operational output of the PT-300 is huge and, powered by its 302 HP CAT engine, it can easily mulch its way through rootstocks and trees. The PT-175 has "only" a 160 HP engine, but this is also a really productive machine. Before we switched to PrimeTech, we looked at comparable machines in the same power class, but the PT-175 convinced us performance-wise.
Q: Do your mulchers operate all year round?
A: Mainly from September to March but the rest of the year is a bit quieter. On average, we clock up about 600 operating hours per vehicle per annum.
Q: How satisfied are you with FAE support service?
A: Whenever we need backup, all we have to do is get in touch with FAE Group customer service in Werder near Potsdam. Most problems can usually be solved by telephone but if necessary, they’ll dispatch a technician from their headquarters in Northern Italy. We’re very satisfied with them, which is why we recently ordered our fourth FAE machine.