HSM Services Inc: Chipping, Grinding and Growing at a Furious Rate
“The purpose-built CMI mulchers were game changers for us," said Matt Monza, general superintendent for HSM. The company had tried mulching machines before, but most simply weren't reliable. “The CMI 450 made us rethink and change the way we clear land." Instead of grinding everything with a horizontal grinder, crews can drive the CMI 450 and mulch as they go. "It is so easy to get around, has great driveability, and is phenomenal on hills," Monza said.
Recently, HSM also began using the smaller CMI 250 outfitted with a stump-grinding head. Crews previously grubbed stumps, but the stump grinder has been much more efficient, Monza said. "We can stump as much with the one CMI as we did with two backhoes and a horizontal grinder."
“The savings are substantial,” he explained. "A horizontal grinder costs two times as much and burns 40 gallons of fuel an hour instead of seven gallons for the CMI. Plus with the grinder we needed two excavators and double the labor, so we had three engines running instead of one. It is definitely more efficient to stump with the small stumper." The CMI 250with stumper head is also small enough to fit into tight spaces and it does not require an oversize permit.
Another game changer for HSM has been a Komatsu PC290 excavator equipped with a Rotobec 360º rotating grapple and saw package. This setup has a bucksaw that eliminates the need for a timberhand to cut the branches off felled trees and cut trees into 10-foot lengths.
"All our grapples were fixed and we had to spin everything on the ground, relaying the brush to another machine to get the piles stacked neatly. With the Rotobec grapple, we have 360-degree rotation," Monza said. “The operator can maneuver logs into the grinder easily even if they are not stacked in perfect alignment. That has increased efficiency by about 30 percent,” he noted. And because the operator has better control of what he's putting in the chipper, damage to machinery has been reduced.
HSM also depends on Morbark chippers and grinders from Columbus Equipment. The company owns a 40/36 Track Drum Chipper that is so efficient it "chips faster than we can clear," Monza said. Before purchasing this chipper "we had to have an operator on a chipper all day every day to keep up." The company has a Morbark 3800XL Wood Hog that is "extremely reliable, very efficient and produces a good product."
HSM also rents equipment from Columbus Equipment. Land clearing jobs often come up at the last minute, Monza said, but Columbus Equipment has always come through. "We can call the Environmental Division at 8 p.m. on a Friday and they have the equipment for us the next day."
The service department is fast and efficient, he added. "Downtime is a major killer for us, but if we go down, Columbus Equipment gets us up right away."
"Columbus Equipment has been a great fit for us. Everyone is very professional. It's been a very good partner organization," Moorhead said.
Monza agreed. "Columbus Equipment is extremely helpful. They have really helped us build our company into what it is today."