Finnish company Ponsse Plc gave its designers a free hand to create a new generation of forest harvester. The result was the Ponsse Scorpion, built around the operator with a focus on ergonomics. High-strength steels enabled Ponsse to improve both harvester performance and control. The Ponsse Scorpion has been named one of four finalists for this year’s Swedish Steel Prize.
The Swedish Steel Prize is awarded annually by SSAB, the global leader in high-strength steel and wear plate, to recognize the most innovative and creative products and solutions utilizing high-strength steels. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in Stockholm on November 19.
Forest harvesters usually feature a double frame construction with a crane boom mounted on the front or to the side of the operator cabin. The cabin is usually static and the boom in front of the operator makes for poor visibility. The Ponsse Scorpion features a symmetrical crane boom, where the operator sits at the center of all movements. It offers the operator total visibility and a comfortable and efficient working environment.
“One of our customers wanted to have a rotating operator cabin,” says R&D Director Juha Inberg. ”Everyone, including our top management, was motivated to develop something completely new and take some real steps ahead in the industry. We came up with 3D layouts and decided that the new machine would have much more than a rotating cabin. The biggest advantage of the new Ponsse Scorpion is that it improves ergonomics significantly, which also increases production.”
Improved ergonomics and perfect visibility in all directions with less sideward swinging in the cabin during operation makes the driver's work essentially easier and safer, and improves harvesting quality. The Scorpion is more environmentally friendly as a result of its long maintenance intervals, low-emission engine technology and low surface pressure. The harvester's weight is divided evenly onto eight wheels.
SSAB and Ponsse have long worked together on the use of high-strength steels in demanding forest machine applications. SSAB has contributed by providing the customer with technical support, choice of material and workshop expertise. Strenx 700 MC Plus high-strength steel can be found in the unique two-arm lift boom over the operator cabin together with steel casts in an innovative way. For the frame, Strenx 700 was chosen due to the high loads, stresses and resistance to fatigue. High-strength steel, e.g. Strenx 700, is also used in the chassis, allowing the unique three-part design. The harvester head is made of wear-resistant Hardox 500, which provides good abrasion resistance.
The powerful crane is easy to control, the cabin is quiet and the working position is optimized for comfort. By utilizing high-strength steels, the overall weight of the harvester is lower, which helps maneuverability in rough terrain. Lower weight allowed more bearings to be added, which gives the Ponsse Scorpion its unique stability. Furthermore, fuel consumption has been reduced and boom movements are faster. The low surface pressure of the machine is a benefit when working on soft soils. The Ponsse Scorpion has been in production since 2014 and there are over 200 machines in the field in about 30 countries. Ponsse has patented the crane and cabin arrangement, the triple-frame structure, frame stabilizing system and cabin leveling encoder arrangement. All Scorpion harvesters are produced at Ponsse’s production facility in Finland.
Swedish Steel Prize Jury
By systematically developing the forest harvester with a focus on the operator, Ponsse has created a new generation of harvesters with significantly improved operator ergonomics. Enhanced functionality, higher productivity and less soil damage are obtained without any weight increase. This is achieved by unique design solutions making use of all advantages of high-strength steel in the chassis, crane arms, cutter head and skid-plates. Steel with high impact toughness ensures safe operation at low temperatures.
First awarded in 1999, the Swedish Steel Prize exists to inspire and increase knowledge about the use of high-strength steel to develop lighter, safer and more sustainable products.
The winner of the Swedish Steel Prize will receive a stipend of SEK 100,000 and a trophy by artist Jörg Jeschke. The award ceremony is part of a three-day event during which approximately 600 international representatives from the global manufacturing and steel industry will participate in seminars and site visits at SSAB.