Tree Processor Comes Full Circle with Hydraulic Swivels

Jan. 28, 2016
Southstar and United Equipment Accessories developed an electrical slip ring/hydraulic swivel combination assembly that creates a 360° rotating head for a multi-tree processor.
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Southstar Equipment’s forestry harvesting machinery needs to be rugged, reliable, and have generous freedom of motion. By incorporating a combination slip ring/hydraulic swivel, this grapple accomplishes those goals, and is easy to assemble.

Southstar Equipment, a leading forestry attachment manufacturer based in Kamloops, B.C., Canada, designs and manufactures attachments that deliver efficient automated mechanized harvesting and processing for wood products. When Southstar engineers designed a full-rotation multi-tree processor, they needed to set the new logging attachment apart from others on the market. A 360° rotating head and the ability to accurately process multiple trees at once helped Southstar do just that.

Previous models of Southstar processors had a 340° rotational limitation. To implement the crucial 360° rotating head, Southstar partnered with United Equipment Accessories (UEA) on an electrical slip ring/hydraulic swivel combination assembly.

Benefits of Two-in-One Design

“Together, the combination assembly allows both electric and hydraulic power to flow without interruption throughout the full 360° rotation,” says Dean Flaig, Technical Sales Manager at UEA. The 20° difference between 340° and a continuous 360° makes a big difference. Because UEA’s combination assembly allows for full rotation, Southstar’s customers see improved efficiencies, decreases in snags, and less maintenance. 

“Having the new 360° rotation standard in every machine is a huge selling point,” says Brad Matthews, partner and controller at Southstar Equipment. “Customers can do far more processing with the fully rotating head.”

Historically, Southstar had to purchase slip rings and hydraulic swivels separately—possibly from separate manufacturers. However, the combination assembly allows one part to integrate seamlessly to support electrohydraulic power flow.

With its access cover removed, this combination electrical slip ring/hydraulic swivel shows how the slip ring is located deep inside the component’s housing to protect it from harsh environmental conditions. The swivel allows for continuous 360° rotation to maximize design flexibility.

“By designing these assemblies as a single component—with integral electrical slip-ring components encased inside of the steel housing of the hydraulic swivel—Southstar’s attachments are much more resistant to outside elements like weather, dirt, and sawdust,” says Flaig, who has more than 20 years of experience working with hydraulic swivels.

Brady Haugo, UEA’s design engineer on the Southstar assembly, adds, “We also used more difficult manufacturing methods to ensure the product was robust. The main support flange could have been welded or bolted on, but for the sake of durability and robustness, we decided to machine it into the part even though doing so required a much bigger piece of stock material and more machining.”

Southstar’s customers also don’t have to stop production for tears in hydraulic hoses, which are virtually unheard of with UEA’s combination assembly.

“From the very onset of our meeting with Southstar’s engineering staff, we saw we were on a direct path toward solving a long-term drawback with their current design and the premature failure of the hydraulic hoses, says Flaig. “Unknown to us at the time, we also helped have positive impact on the operation and production cycle times to the processor head.”

The combination assembly also decreases Southstar’s assembly time with its 360° attachments. Michael Klopp, Vice President at Southstar, says, “Now that we have gone to the combination-style assembly, we receive our swivel slip-ring units pre-wired, which speeds up assembly time at the plant. We send these machines out and they work without any glitches right out of the gate.”

This information was submitted by Daniel Hanawalt, marketing coordinator at United Equipment Accessories (UEA), Waverly, Iowa.

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