What Breaks Big Machines

From a new article published on GoNOMAD.com, about logging in the Congo, by Will Sparks.

“The 40-ton machine drove straight through anything less than about 10cm in diameter, and maneuvered around larger trees to reach the target log. Workers attached a steel winch cable to the log and the operator pulled the log out to the road, where a truck would collect it for transport to the sea. Alan told us that these machines cost about a half-million dollars each, and that he expects one to last four years before requiring replacement.

Cat engineers, he said, visit his operation to learn what breaks the machines and how to make them stronger. Throughout our visit Alan seemed eager to show us how difficult it is to extract this wood from the forest. I asked him whether he’d had any problems with environmentalists. “Not yet,” he said. The Chinese on their concessions, he said, clear-cut the land, so he wasn’t too concerned for his operation.