A Kamloops manufacturer is building attachment heads capable of significantly boosting productivity in the logging industry.
Southstar Equipment Ltd., a new partnership, assembles harvester/processor heads used for limbing and cutting trees to length.
The heavy-equipment heads have been around for decades, but these ones can process three trees at a time instead of just one.
"B.C. is basically where we're at right now, but there is interest across Canada. Basically, the world is open to us," said Brad Matthews, a partner in the company.
MP Cathy McLeod visited Southstar's shop on Thursday in Mount Paul Industrial Park to announce $36,000 in federal funding for the firm through the Industrial Research Assistance Program.
McLeod said the company's innovation is a good match for the program's support, which has also benefited iCompass Technologies, a Kamloops software firm, in the past.
"Really, it's a program designed to take businessmen and help them turn research and ideas into action," McLeod said. "This is certainly what Canada needs in terms of moving forward with productivity."
The advanced equipment removes a bottleneck in forestry, she added.
The funds give the company a boost as it markets its line of equipment to B.C. heavy-equipment dealerships such as John Deere and Finning. They may find a keen market in a sector always seeking competitive advantage.
"It will maybe help us make a larger dent in the local forest industry," Matthews said.
Southstar opened its doors locally in March in collaboration with New Zealand partners who founded the company three years ago. The local firm imports the frames from New Zealand, then builds the equipment using components manufactured in North America.
Mike Klopp, another partner in the venture, said the processor heads operate faster and more accurately, custom-cutting logs so that they're ready for milling.
"It's great for dead pine stands where they need to get the wood out, but it's expensive," Klopp said.
Matthews said the heads are also used for felling in other parts of the world. Fallers using chainsaws remain the front line in the B.C. logging industry.