If you were one of the 2,400 people attending the Arborists' Trade Fair at the Bathurst Estate, Gloucestershire, at the end of June, then you must have noticed the lively buzz in the air.
Professional arborists are in constant battle against chainsaw-wielding white-van men and have to work hard to stay abreast of the latest regulations and technologies. But arboriculture as an industry is proactive, in fact, it's thriving.
A number of factors are coming into play, such as the greater recognition of the importance of trees and the need to care for the nation's aging tree population, the successful promotion of arboriculture as a career and the availability of quality training. In future the industry's status is likely to be boosted again as the Arboricultural Association makes progress with its application to become an Approved Scheme Operator for TrustMark - a Government-backed scheme aiming to limit rogue traders.
As the industry itself knuckles down to dealing with issues such as good working practices and health and safety, manufacturers of equipment used by arborists are lending support with the development of new products from chainsaws to woodchippers and stump grinders.
As exhaust-emission standards are tightened across the globe, we are seeing huge advances made in engine technology for items such as chainsaws. Stihl is using Intelligent Engine Management to put an end to manual adjustments of the carburettor's high-speed screw on its MS280-I. Instead, the engine's built-in intelligence automatically controls the fuel mix and engine speed at high rpm to give optimum power and reduce fuel consumption.
Another new model, the MS441, features a redesigned two-stroke engine to meet the EU exhaust directives while, with safety in mind, the company has also introduced the Picco Micro saw chain for cutting performance with minimised kickback.
A number of companies, including Efco, are offering "lean-burn" engines on their chainsaws but four-stroke engine technology is also expected to play a role. Makita is one company that believes it is the future. The company's first four-stroke chainsaw is due to go into production later this year.
For those climbing arborists looking for a lightweight, top-handled chainsaw, Echo has introduced the CS-260TES with 26.9cc engine, 25cm bar and weighing just 2.9kg. One of the key features of this model is its low vibration figure of just 3.9 on the highest individual axis. The saw is priced at £299 ex VAT.
Echo has also entered the woodchipper market, having taken over the distribution of Bear Cat products in the UK, Ireland and Benelux. The Echo Bear Cat range, launched at the Arborists' Trade Fair, includes a 9in chipper capable of tackling branches up to 230mm in diameter and is powered by a 50hp diesel engine. At the other end of the scale, Echo Bear Cat has launched a 4in towable chipper with manual feed. This model, particularly suited to landscaping applications, has a large feed
hopper to accommodate prunings and limbs up to 100mm in diameter. A 20hp Honda engine drives four heat-treated copper steel blades.
The company is also offering an 8in PTO chipper. Designed for tractors from 25hp to 60hp, this chipper has hydraulic feed and 200mm capacity. An integrated, rotatable blower in this model is intended to give accurate control over the flow of chips.
Despite supporting over 30 brands of woodchipper, the UK market seemingly still has room for growth. A new entry from the US, the Salsco range of chippers is now available from Equipment Supply Services of West Glamorgan.
Expected to be popular is model 627XT. Despite being a 6in-capacity machine, this unit has a requirement
of only 25hp at the PTO. The letterbox style infeed of 300mm x 200mm opens onto dual rollers and the cutting mechanism utilises 12.7mm thick, 100m long, 100m wide double-edged chipping blades plus a 12.7mm thick reversible bed knife. But beware the chute - it turns through the whole of 360°.
Due to arrive in the UK this coming winter, and already previewed in a prototype format at the Arborists' Trade Fair, the German-built Tunnissen 250 is a 180mm capacity machine, designed for tree surgeons. Now mounted on a 360° turntable for safe working on roadsides and with a heavy-duty road chassis for transport, the unit takes power from a 37hp four-cylinder Lombardini diesel engine. The two-knife cutting mechanism, combined with the cutting disc's weight of over 100kg and no-stress device, is intended to give the machine staying power.
Specifically designed to get to work in restricted areas and access narrow entryways, the Jo Beau M400/18 is another introduction anticipated later this year. Boasting professional features in a compact body, the Jo Beau is just 720mm wide, yet has a 100mm capacity. Suited for operation in back gardens, the petrol-powered unit is equipped with an 18hp Briggs & Stratton twin-cylinder engine.
More information about the range of Tunnissen and Jo Beau range of woodchippers, including news of the arrival of the 250 and M400/18, can be obtained from Fletcher Stewart of Stockport.
In addition to the chippers, Echo is also supplying the Bear Cat stump grinder. Powered by an 11hp engine and equipped with four carbide teeth, the cutter's head on this portable unit turns at 3,600rpm. A fully enclosed housing prevents chips from building up in the belts and pulley, and a debris flap protects the operator when in use.