The logging industry uses a lot of heavy equipment, and loggers love frozen ground because it is stable ground. But according to a recent study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the time they have to operate on frozen ground is getting shorter. In fact, the winter logging season has gradually shortened by 2-3 weeks since 1948. Because logging and mud don’t mix, the industry has changed the species it targets and the predictions for harvesting. This is significant change in an industry that relies on a particular type of heavy equipment operator — one who can be a logger too.
Mud Means Danger
Mud isn’t just messy. For heavy equipment operators, it changes the way the machines move around the site and adds hazards to regular operations. Wheels spin, things get stuck, and everything is slippery. Mud is dangerous when machines are being used. That’s why changing weather affects so many in the heavy equipment field — a January thaw might mean work has to be put on hold until it freezes again.
Soil identification is part of the training in the Heavy Equipment Operator Training Programs at ATS because different types of soils affect the work that can be done. For logging, trees growing in soils that become unstable in wet conditions are not able to be harvested when it’s muddy. Therefore the industry targets trees growing in soil that drains well and isn’t as dangerous in a thaw.
On any site there are potential dangers with a weather change. Because it’s so important to pay attention to the ground beneath the equipment, every student at ATS learns what to look for in soil conditions.