Shaws Iron Test

All equipment manufacturers promise to deliver more performance and productivity with each new model introduction, but how many of them manage to do that as a result of switching to a smaller AND less powerful engine?


Hitachi appears to have achieved this feat with its latest ZW220-5 wheel loader.


Replacing the 164kW (220hp) Isuzu 7.8-litre engine with the smaller Cummins QSB6.7 unit that puts out 145kW (194hp) in the recently introduced 5-series model might have been viewed as a retrograde step.


But slot yourself into the operator’s seat and it’s a different story. There’s power aplenty from the Cummins engine and hydraulic performance seems to have gone up a notch.


That was our opinion after Iron Testing the first of the Hitachi dash-5 wheel loaders to go into the forest in New Zealand.


This particular machine has been working with Stokes Logging for Hancock Forest Management in one of the northern blocks of Woodhill Forest for the past year and although it’s taken us a while to get around to looking at it, we’re glad we did.


The opportunity came about after arranging a test of the new Eltec that Steven Stokes is now jointly distributing in this market.


His Hitachi ZW220-5 has been on our radar for a while, however we always seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But with the Hitachi working in another of Steven’s crews 20 minutes up the road from the Eltec that we covered in last month’s issue, the stars were perfectly aligned.


Crew 733 was formed specifically to work in the northern part of Woodhill and the Hitachi was purchased with that job in mind.


It’s been a long time since any wheel loaders have worked in this sand-based forest to the west of the Auckland metropolis.


Around 20 years, thinks Steven, adding: “I don’t know why, they just fell out of fashion.


“When I was young, my old man ran wheel loaders and my uncle drove one when they were in Woodhill Forest, so we decided to look at one when we were asked to move in here.”


Steven hasn’t had much personal experience with wheel loaders during his own logging career but he recognises that they can be a fantastic tool in the right locations and provide a real lift in performance. They are popular in parts of Kaingaroa and similarly flattish forests in the central North Island, as well as around Nelson and Marlborough, where ground conditions remain firm across all seasons.


Among the selling points for Steven was the fact that Hitachi distributor CablePrice has a branch at nearby Silverdale, which has a good reputation for providing back-up “and that was a real drawcard for me – I did look at other wheel loaders but it was the back-up that sold it”...



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