Launched recently, Ponsse’s new Mammoth forwarder and Scorpion Giant harvester really pack a punch, and bring with them a host of upgrades. But just who are they for in today’s volatile market? 

SOMETIMES size really does matter. At least that can often be the case in forestry, where bigger frequently means better; whether that be bigger engines, bigger knives, bigger cabins or even bigger harvesters and forwarders. 

Looking to scratch that itch is Ponsse, the Finnish company behind some of the most well-known vehicles in the sector. Its Elephants, Buffalos and Bears roam the world’s woodlands. But it’s a new 25-tonne load-carrying forwarder and a “versatile” harvester that are said to be the next step in the firm’s sustainable forestry ambitions. 

The Mammoth and Scorpion Giant bring with them a host of upgrades, including improved ergonomics, safety and usability. Launched at an event in Sweden last month – the first of its kind since before the pandemic – the Mammoth expands on Ponsse’s extensive forwarder offering and features “sturdy frame structures” and “super-strong hydraulics”, while the Giant becomes the strongest harvester in the Scorpion range. 

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“It is an exciting time,” Marko Mattila, sales, marketing and service director at Ponsse, said, while speaking to Forestry Journal from Sweden. “And such a good feeling after two years of COVID to have this live event.” 

So, who exactly are each of the new machines aimed at? Let’s start with the harvester.

The Scorpion Giant falls in between the Scorpion King and the Bear, Ponsse’s largest harvester. Capable of carrying loads of up to 24 tonnes – compared to the Bear’s 24.5 tonnes – the newbie has been designed with bigger trees and tough conditions in mind. 

Like its elder sibling, the Giant can be equipped with the H7 and new H8 heads (more on that later), as well as the H7 HD EUCA and H6. Its engine boasts 210 kW of power and is fitted with Ponsse’s C50+ crane, offering reach between 8.6 m and 11 m, depending on the option chosen. 

“This is one step forward from the Scorpion King, so a little bit bigger,” Marko said. “It can handle bigger trees and is a little bit more powerful in tough conditions.

“This is not going to be quite the Bear harvester, but this is going to be between the King and Bear. That’s how we see it.

“We see the market for this machine being the UK, France, Germany and parts of Scandinavia. In North America also. These are the biggest target areas for this machine.” 

According to customer demand, Ponsse says, the Scorpion Giant was developed to have more tractive effort, which helps the harvester to be agile even in challenging conditions, including snow, steep slopes and soft terrain. 

“It is very versatile as you have more power, and a little bit more power on the crane,” said Marko. “You can handle bigger trees in tougher conditions in a better way.” 

To help handle bigger trees, the Giant can be equipped with Ponsse’s new H8 harvester head, which has been widely tested in a number of countries, including France. With a powerful feed, firm grip and solid yet agile frame, it also boasts Active Speed, a new feature that allows operating speed to be adjusted based on the tree species and stem diameter. 

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According to Marko, it is a real game changer. 

“It is an improvement from today’s head,” he said. “The geometry is totally newly done. The saw box has been made differently, so it can take those big trees – when they get really wide – more efficiently. The geometry has been improved quite a bit.

“When you handle the bigger trees, the rollers are underneath the trunk more, so it supports the tree. It’s a more efficient way and you get a good grip without there being so much pressure on the knives and rollers. 

“This, for UK customers, is quite important. There are lots of improvements on the structure of the head.” 

Besides the physical features, both machines come complete with the fifth-generation Ponsse Opti 5G information system and an upgraded user interface. The user-friendly information system is the most modern on the market, Ponsse says, and its smoothness and speed take the user experience to a completely new level.

Crucially, it can also be upgraded, which offers more wiggle room for technological changes than past versions. It’s not just about the current trend, Marko said, but what’s to come. 

“It’s more user friendly,” he said of the system. “It’s the simplicity of use, and that’s the feedback we get from the customers. There is a totally renewed control system. 

“When you adjust the settings, such as pressure, you don’t need to start and stop the engine. It is much easier to make adjustments and it can remember them. There’s a very nice big screen. 

“Opti 5G supports today’s requirements but also lets us adapt for changes. We can really easily build on this for the future. We are at a totally different level and can develop it even more.

“We have a long-term plan, which we are following. Everything that we do is in that plan and we go forward step by step.” 

During the two-day Ponsse Show in May, held in Surahammar, around 800 guests came from around the world to see the launch of the new machines, as well as many of the firm’s other products in action. 

“Customers feel good and everyone is quite excited to see these machines, the demonstrations, and hear all about the new products coming up,” Marko added. “We’re feeling really good and the fact it’s been so long since we were able to do an event like this only adds to it.” 

One of those customers was German Ralf Dreeke, of supplier Wahlers Forsttechnik, who told of his reasons for opting for the Giant. 

“The target market of the Mammoth is not Germany,” he said. “It’s Canada or South America. But the Scorpion Giant is for us. 

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“It’s the perfect machine and we need it because in Central Europe we have bigger trees, so the trend is absolutely right to make the machines more versatile.

“The big advantage of our products is we can use them to harvest small trees and bigger trees. I am very positive about the future.” 

Meanwhile, the Mammoth – due for serial production at the start of 2023 – comes equipped with the stepless Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) system and the Ponsse K121 loader, meaning heavy loads can be transported effortlessly, even in the most challenging terrain. 

One of the most prominent new features is the Ponsse Active Seat, developed with the needs of forest machine operators at its heart. The new Active Seat improves usability, according to Ponsse, as it turns and follows the work environment. 

Crucially, the Mammoth becomes Ponsse’s largest forwarder, able to carry loads of up to 25 tonnes – the Elephant King is a distant second at 20 tonnes – and built with distance in mind. By allowing operators to haul more logs from A to B, Ponsse believes the Mammoth will increase not only productivity, but efficiency as well. 

“It’s for Latin America, but also North America,” Marko said, when asked who the Mammoth is for. “Definitely Sweden and Norway. These are the main markets for it, maybe some others like in Australia and South Africa. 

“We are always following customer needs. That’s why the forwarders are bigger; to meet the demand. Finland is maybe not the market for these machines.

“When you have longer hauling distances – like these countries do – with this kind of machine, it can be done in a more productive way, while saving fuel. That is a key point.

“The key is always to increase the productivity and to lower the fuel consumption. That’s what our customers want. With this machine and this technology, we are really meeting that.”

Canadians Jean Trottier, from Hydromec, and MJR Dubois’ Luca Dubois, one of the first to order the Mammoth, were also at the launch event, and revealed why they’d opted for the new behemoth. 

“We have been thinking about this because Luca and his team really like high productivity,” said Jean. “And they were the ones who have been testing the prototype K120 cranes that became K121 cranes. 

“They are always looking for something new that will eventually be more productive. When we got the opportunity to test the Mammoth in Quebec, I told Luca they were one of the first choices for the new machine, with a bigger load capacity and bigger pulling power. 

“They work in a mixed forest, so there is a lot of spruce, pine and aspen. So very heavy loads and difficult conditions all the time.

READ MORE: Mammoth and Scorpion Giant: Ponsse unveils new 25-tonne forwarder and 'versatile' harvester

“Most of the time, one forwarder hauls the load for two. They are harvesting around 2,500 to 3,000 m³ of wood each week with one forwarder. 

“The distance can be very long, so they need a huge machine.” 

You don’t need to do a whole lot of digging to find operators detailing their concerns about fuel prices. That’s if they can even get the stuff, with red diesel continuing to be like gold dust for many parts of the UK. 

The good news is both the Mammoth and Giant have, on testing, used less fuel than previous Ponsse models, according to Marko. 

“We have had amazing feedback on the prototypes of these machines that have been running in Sweden and Uruguay,” he said. “The first one is going now. We have been getting amazing feedback.

“They say it’s more productive and they use a little bit less fuel. 

“One of the main drivers for us has been the need to help people use less fuel. The feedback has been amazing the last few weeks on this.

“These operations are in quite flat terrain in Uruguay. In Sweden, there are a lot more hills.” 

There can be no mistake that Ponsse is launching these two new machines at a time of uncertainty in many areas of forestry. Not only are component shortages continuing to cause supply problems, but the invasion of Ukraine by Russia has thrown up its own challenges. Ponsse, like many others, including John Deere, ceased trading in one of forestry’s largest markets overnight, with the move wiping off around €109 million from the Finnish firm’s order intake alone. 

It led to Ponsse – which has at least 3,000 machines in Russia – forecasting “significantly lower” profits than 2021.

But, Marko said, the picture isn’t as bleak as some might fear.

“At the moment the market in the western world is quite good and demand is all right,” he said. “Of course, inflation and these things are affecting everybody and making it a little bit more difficult. There are also component shortages still and problems in the world’s logistic networks. 

“Then you have Ukraine and the war. That’s making a lot of these problems a bit bigger, especially with components. 

“But demand is still strong in the western world.”