An effective way to reduce off-road traffic in forests is to implement greater distances between skid trails. However, this implies that trees beyond the boom reach of the harvester need to be felled motor manually before being winched to the skid trail, for example using a remote-controlled mini forestry crawler (MFC). They are only a few local studies which have evaluated the performance of such MFCs. The use of MFCs for wood extraction operations in mixed soft- and hardwood stands is presented in this study conducted in Southwestern Germany. The aim of this study was to analyze the productivity, costs, and selected environmental impacts of mini forestry crawlers during winching operations through a time study. Using statistical regression, time consumption was analyzed in order to determine significant explanatory variables. Environmental impacts were evaluated using the life cycle assessment (LCA) methodology with Umberto software. The mean net cycle time was 4.82 min and the net productivity rate was 7.77 m3
by productive machine hour (PMH0
). Explanatory variables which significantly affected the net cycle time were the winched volume, the number of trees per load, and winching distance. Environmental analysis showed that inputs of fossil energy were mostly due to diesel and lubricant consumption. Raw materials for machine manufacture and maintenance showed the highest impact in human toxicity potential category. The MFCs showed good environmental performances, but the harvesting system should become more productive in order to be more cost effective.
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