Alternative Trucks for Timber Haulage

Experience following the storms "Wiebke" and "Vivian" in 1990 as well as "Lothar" in 1999 showed that timber transport capacity is a limiting factor. In particular transporting timber to customers (long and short distance transport), to wet storages or to yards and ports concurrently is determined to a great extent by the available transport capacity.

Timber haulage from forest to the point of delivery is traditionally carried out by specialised timber transport vehicles (log trucks with handling equipment, semi-trailers and shortwood trucks), in normal times as well as in times of catastrophe. Advantages of these specialised trucks are their rugged construction and their independent, flexible application at the forest due to their vehicle-mounted cranes. Disadvantages such as higher net weight (rugged construction and specialised equipment) however, lead to reduced load capacity in comparison to conventional trucks. Furthermore it’s only possible to transport round timber by these trucks which have high purchase costs and low resale values.

Because the timber trucks can only be used for timber haulage and not for any other goods, the problem of empty trucks on return arises. Additionally in times of catastrophe the availability of trucks becomes important. Even for rail and waterway transportation modes, the first leg of the journey out of the forest normally needs to be by truck. Especially in times of catastrophes, but also in regular times, it is useful to have access to trucks with flexible trailer or container systems which are not especially equipped for round timber haulage.

Some solutions exist, which seem to be reasonable for timber haulage (in combination with ship and railway transportation). Widespread utilisation of such systems is not common (except the: "Trailersystem" in Bavaria and "VALMETrailer" in Saarland), even though the conditions of haulage (eco-taxes, fuel prices, truck toll etc.) make a more efficient use of transport media desirable.

The following scheme provides an overview of current systems.

Container with rollers DIN 30722 (Abroll-container)

  • Suitable for haulage of loose, bulk goods.
  • Transported by a container vehicle, which is equipped with a hook system.
  • Flexible due to the rolls fixed to the container
  • Widespread, DIN-standardised system, compatible throughout Europe
  • Disadvantages: The hook equipment increases the price by about 20.000 € and the net weight considerably.

Swap body DIN 284

  • Transported by vehicles equipped with a special frame according to DIN 70014
  • Low net weight of the base vehicles
  • Widespread, DIN-standardised system, compatible throughout Europe
  • Combination with railway possible
  • Swap bodies are set on four supporting legs, which are folded during driving.
  • Equipment for a corresponding frame at 2.600 € is cost-efficient.
  • Equipped with stakes for haulage of pipe-like goods.


  • Container with an open stake construction from Georg Kraemer KG (Germany) especially for timber haulage; combines the systems named above. The container is equipped with supporting legs (foldable) as well as a hook system.
  • High effort needed for organisation, coordination and communication between forest ranger, contractor and haulage company.
  • Flexible application of haulage trucks, Euroflats can be used for haulage of sawn wood.

Kombi Euroflat

  • Advanced, partly closed version of the Euroflat-system.
  • This swap body can be used as a closed container for haulage of pieces or bulked goods (wood chips). An additional panel closes the open parts.


Direct loading of semi-trailers

  • Due to direct loading from the forwarder to the semi-trailer the interim storage in the forest is omitted.
  • Working with a minimum of 2 semi-trailers allows for the continuous transport of timber out of the forest.
  • The disadvantage of the system is the necessary infrastructure required: forestry roads need to be wide enough and stable enough to make loading from the forwarder to the semi-trailer possible.
  • Furthermore this system is only profitable at large timber quantities, when there is a lack of storage space or for “just-in-time” deliveries.
  • Lower purchase costs in comparison to a traditional timber truck as well as savings on motor vehicle taxes. Taxes need to be paid for the towing vehicle and for one semi-trailer. There are no additional taxes for any further semi-trailers. These trucks can also be used for transportation of other goods.


Further timber haulage systems, which are not especially developed for roundwood haulage but which may be applicable:


  • The tandem-hooklift-trailer can be hauled by trucks with trailer couplings as well as by agricultural tractors or Unimogs. This makes the system of container transport attractive for forest owners, forestry partnerships or machine rings (machine sharing).
  • The transportation of own timber to the user or to collection points is no problem and can be done by the forest owner him/herself without the need for a contractor.
  • Trailer costs: 25,000 - 30,000 € (Fa. Krampe, Coesfeld /Germany).

Stackable swap bodies

  • Special variation of swap bodies. The stakes, front, back and side panels can be folded. The flat bodies can be piled up on each other and stored or transported in a space-saving way. The manufacturer suggests the system can be used for timber haulage even though it was not designed for it.
  • The swap bodies are approved for transport by railway – costs approx. 4,900 € (company CombiLog AG, Bamberg/Germany)
  • Disadvantages: no combination with Abroll-containers, supporting legs are necessary for putting down the swap bodies (consider bearing capacity of forest soil at loaded state), a truck is necessary

ACTS (Abroll-Container-Transport-System)

  • The system enables the combined transport of Abroll-containers via truck and train. Therefore the wagons are equipped with special, rotating frames.
  • It is especially useful for the railway haulage of raw wood without single stem reloading and special timber transhipment devices. A special timber loading yard is not needed.

(Sea freight-) Containers

Swap body based on international (sea freight-) containers, especially suitable for transport of pipes or pipe-like goods



  • Bechtle, M. und Müller, M: (2004): Optimierung der Logistik durch Trailer-Direktverladung. Holzzentralblatt Nr. 46/2004, S. 603-604.
  • Strunk, M. (2003): Zum Einsatz von Wechselbrücken beim Rohholztransport in der deutschen Forst- und Holzwirtschaft. Bachelorarbeit Universität Göttingen, unveröffentlicht.
  • Von Bodelschwingh, E. (2004): Das System VALMETRailer. Forst und Technik, 6/2004, S. 14-18.

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