Best Tree Service in Hampton Roads
26 McDonald Rd Hampton, VA 23669
Mon-Sat: 7:00AM-7:00PM
30 Oct 2017

The Importance Of Managing Friction

Friction Management

<

p class=”art”>The force of friction plays a major role in almost every aspect of tree care professionals’ daily work activities. All of the hitches and knots that are so vital to climbing arborists for attaching or securing themselves and other objects to lines and cordage rely on some degree of friction to stay tied in place.

Friction works to a tree crew’s advantage when carrying out rigging operations when they use the friction generated by a lowering device or tree wraps to lower wood and branches under control. Yet, a similar form of friction to the one that allows these experts to lower huge loads safely and securely can be inefficient when ascending into the tree. This would be friction present at the tie-in point (TIP).

Conventional and traditional climbing involves simply running the climbing line over a branch or around the trunk in the desired location for the TIP. The friction generated by the rope on bark/wood contact takes quite a toll on the user, the climbing line and the tree.

There are many friction-reduction devices that can be used to better manage this friction at the TIP, and also a myriad of ways that climbing arborists can create their own out of appropriately rated slings, carabiners and pulleys once they understand the advantages of reduced friction aloft.

The cambium saver is simply a sewn leather tube shaped in a curve. The climbing line passes through it, reducing the amount of friction the climber has to work against while also protecting both rope and bark from excessive wear and heat due to mutual contact.

Read more: Friction Management 101

The post The Importance Of Managing Friction appeared first on Tree Service Hampton Roads Services.

26 Oct 2017

The Importance Of Managing Friction

Friction Management

<

p class=”art”>The force of friction plays a major role in almost every aspect of tree care professionals’ daily work activities. All of the hitches and knots that are so vital to climbing arborists for attaching or securing themselves and other objects to lines and cordage rely on some degree of friction to stay tied in place.

Friction works to a tree crew’s advantage when carrying out rigging operations when they use the friction generated by a lowering device or tree wraps to lower wood and branches under control. Yet, a similar form of friction to the one that allows these experts to lower huge loads safely and securely can be inefficient when ascending into the tree. This would be friction present at the tie-in point (TIP).

Conventional and traditional climbing involves simply running the climbing line over a branch or around the trunk in the desired location for the TIP. The friction generated by the rope on bark/wood contact takes quite a toll on the user, the climbing line and the tree.

There are many friction-reduction devices that can be used to better manage this friction at the TIP, and also a myriad of ways that climbing arborists can create their own out of appropriately rated slings, carabiners and pulleys once they understand the advantages of reduced friction aloft.

The cambium saver is simply a sewn leather tube shaped in a curve. The climbing line passes through it, reducing the amount of friction the climber has to work against while also protecting both rope and bark from excessive wear and heat due to mutual contact.

Read more: Friction Management 101

The post The Importance Of Managing Friction appeared first on Tree Service Hampton Roads Services.

12 Jul 2017

The Importance of Chipper Maintenance

<

p class=”art”>Of all the tools that the modern arborist uses, the chipper is often the largest, loudest and most complicated. Brush chippers need to operate long hours with little to no downtime. Unless you are an extravagantly well-equipped crew, you rarely have an extra to use in a pinch.

To be effective, efficient and safe, chippers must be maintained and cared for on a regular basis. This article will break down chipper maintenance into manageable chunks (pun intended) and help establish regular checks, adjustments and repairs. Like all complex jobs, chipper maintenance should be a routine series of tasks performed in a routine way.

There are numerous brands of chippers on the market today, and manufacturers strive to make machines that are productive, safe and affordable. There are a number of ways to achieve these goals, and infinite variations on them. As such, all chippers have characteristics in common, but no two brands are exactly the same. We will explore some overall strategies and tips, but in no way can we cover every detail of the chipper you use daily.

For that, you must refer to the bible of chipper maintenance and operation, the owner’s manual. If you bought it new, your chipper comes with one by law. If you bought it used, you are required to get one. Either way, OSHA/ANSI require one on the machine during use. The OM has all the details you need to check and adjust your machine per the original specifications.

For our purposes, we will break the chipper down into three sections. First is the chassis. Most chippers are towed behind another vehicle. The chassis allows it to move safely from one job to the next. Think of it as the trailer your machine sits on. The next part is the power plant. This is the engine that powers the knives and spits the chips out the chute. Finally comes the core, or everything in between the power plant and the in-feed chute. These three areas have separate concerns deserving separate consideration.

Hitch attachments should be inspected every time the chipper moves. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

Hitch attachments should be inspected every time the chipper moves. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

Chassis

Just latching on and going down the road is no way to tow anything. Before hooking up, go over the chassis systematically from front to back. Starting at the front of the chipper, inspect the hitch, chains and electrical hookup. Look for broken, bent or missing pieces, weld cracks, excessive rust and excessive wear. What defines excessive? Always refer to the OM for specific metrics, but don’t forget the little voice in your head. If it looks wrong, err on the side of caution. Avoid the tragedy of losing your trailer while going to the job by never allowing the condition of you chassis to deteriorate. For efficiency and safety’s sake, the jack stand should be operational and the correct size.

Moving to the rear of the vehicle, make sure any traffic cones, toolboxes, fenders, mud flaps or other things attached to the chipper are secure. Also make sure an appropriate, serviceable fire extinguisher is present and operational. Take a close look at the decals provided by the manufacturer. Make sure all the warning and operational ones are present and legible. These serve as valuable reminders to the crew.

Safety decals provide valuable information. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

Safety decals provide valuable information. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

Check the tires for proper tread depth and air pressure. If the chipper is equipped with a braking system, check for proper functioning as per the OM. If any of the frame surfaces are used as steps or footholds, make sure they are covered in anti-slip tape and are oil and dirt free. Check all lights and assure proper functioning. As with all chipper maintenance, a checklist is vital to ensure items are checked in a routine manner.

Power plant

Regular engine service is critical for safe operation. Most likely your chipper has a separate OM for the engine. Follow it for service intervals, lubrication types and replacement part guidance. However, a daily inspection is also necessary. Be sure to look for fluid leaks, missing bolts, loose belts and excessive debris nestled up close to the engine block. Maintain the proper fluid levels and replace the filters as stated in the OM. Keep the radiator cleaned to avoid overheating. Regularly clean the air filter. Chipping brush and wood is dusty business. Use a high-quality fuel source and additives as needed for climatic conditions.

Chipper maintenance Photo: Anthony Tresselt

Chipper maintenance Photo: Anthony Tresselt

Core

The core is what makes a chipper a chipper. Any accident can be boiled down to a root cause, and chipper accidents are no exception. Any chipper manufacturer will tell you that improper maintenance and operator error are the root cause of the majority of chipper incidents. Poor maintenance leads to improper equipment function. Poor function leads to anger and frustration. This, in turn, leads to bad judgment and rushed actions.

The core of chipper maintenance is safety through properly operating machines. Adopt an attitude of safety as the basis for chipper use and upkeep. Well-running machines are easier to use, last longer, generate more revenue and are prone to fewer accidents. You can’t expect your crews to safely operate a poorly working machine.

Lock-out, tag-out

Before any maintenance or adjustment begins, the chipper needs to be shut down, with no parts in motion. Manufacturers install a number of safety devices to ensure that access to rotating belts, disks, knives and drums is restricted if in motion. Make sure these are all operational. As a further check, attach any keys to locked areas or panels of the chipper to the machine’s ignition key. Doing this means the machine must be turned off with the keys removed from the ignition before maintenance can begin. The keys should then reside on the person who is performing the work. This is a basic lock-out, tag-out procedure and should be used as a minimum precaution. Expand it as your equipment and work environment demands. Also, never check for hydraulic leaks without eye protection and covered hands. High-pressure hydraulic fluid can penetrate the skin or eyes and cause serious iHampton Roadsury. Even with the machine off, latent pressure can still be high.

Here is a manufacturer approved repaired stress crack. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

Here is a manufacturer approved repaired stress crack. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

Vibration

Chippers notoriously shake, rattle and roll when processing material. This constant vibration leads to cracks, breaks and fatigue on all parts of the system. Bouncing down the road on the way to the job can also cause breakage. Look for signs of wear and tear at weld seams. Scan for loose or missing bolts, nuts and/or rubber mounts. Check the hydraulic hoses for chafe marks, loose fittings and leaks.

Vibration stress can rear its ugly head in any number of ways. It is particularly tough on rusted areas of the machine. The weakness of the metal oxidation is further stressed by vibration, torsion or other shock loading. Address rusted areas before they get out of hand. By far, the best way to prevent vibration stress is to prevent vibration. That leads us to our next topic.

Keep it sharp

The leading cause of excessive chipper vibration is dull knives and worn anvils. These cutting surfaces wear through use and must be constantly maintained. Dull knives start a cascading effect on the whole system. Not only does vibration increase, but the drive belts, clutch and bearings are stressed. This, in turn, makes the engine work harder to chip the same amount of material and causes a decrease in the workload, which can lead to frustration and bad choices. Even a properly used chipper that is fed only the cleanest material will dull. Check the knives frequently and rotate to sharp surfaces when necessary. Check your OM for the minimum knife width and never use knives that are less than this. As a knife is sharpened it becomes narrower across the long axis. This increases the space between the anvil and the cutting edge of the knife. If this distance gets too large, then even a sharp knife cannot cut material and instead tears it. Imagine a sharp pair of scissors with a loose pivot bolt. Also check the knives for cracks or other irregularities. Replace knives as needed.

As they are sharpened, knives get shorter. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

As they are sharpened, knives get shorter. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

The anvil is the second piece of the cutting equation. Anchored to the body of the chipper, it adjusts in relation to the knives on the disk or drum. While not sharp, the anvil must have a clean, square, smooth edge to process material properly. Think of the unsharpened side of a set of scissors. Anvils wear more slowly than knives, but still need periodic examination and adjustment. Refer to your OM for the specifics. Conditions, materials and operator habits will dictate how often the anvil needs to be serviced.

No single article can discuss all the possible scenarios and maintenance issues for every chipper in use today. However, there are many similarities and procedures that can, and should, be implemented by all brush chipper users to ensure safe, productive operation of any machine. Use what we have discussed as a starting point, expand on it as necessary. Follow your OM. Keep the safety devices operational. Keep the cutting surfaces sharp. Implement and follow sound operating and maintenance procedures and processes routinely, and your brush chipper will work as long and hard as you and your crew.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in February 2011 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The post The Importance of Chipper Maintenance appeared first on Tree Services.

07 Jun 2017

The Importance of Root Systems

Here’s the understatement of all understatements: tree roots are important to a tree’s capacity to survive. When one considers all of the benefits that tree branches and leaves provide (photosynthesis, carbon dioxide reduction, oxygen generation, aesthetic appeal, shade for outside activity, cooling for homes and buildings, etc.), none would be possible without a supporting root system.

Functions of roots

In no particular order of importance, the functions of the root system are threefold. First, the stability of the tree and nearby trees, especially in forests or multi-tree landscapes. In short, trees help other trees stand up. This is most visible on the edge of native stands, where the outside trees are more likely to fall and tend to grow shorter and have thinner canopies. In the first several years of growth, most trees develop tap or sinker roots to provide initial stabilization. Over time, these give way to lateral roots that extend horizontally akin to the spokes of a bicycle wheel laid sideways. These provide support for the tree and resistance to being blown over in windstorms.

Wherever possible, separate trees from turf. Photo: John Fech

The first root function that comes to mind is the absorption of water and nutrients, especially in the minds of non-plant people. Absorption occurs primarily through root hairs, fine finger-like structures that grow between soil particles to extract necessary elements and water. Once brought into the root, they are transported to the stems and leaves where sugars and carbohydrates are made through the process of photosynthesis.

Thirdly, and perhaps the most overlooked function, is erosion control. The best defense against the undesired movement of soil, pesticides and applied fertilizers on slopes is a thick, dense root system to absorb or retain these materials. Actually, turfgrasses with rhizomatous root systems, such as Kentucky bluegrass, bermudagrass and zoysiagrass, are the best erosion-reduction plants, but tree root systems are not far behind. For this reason, buffer strips containing grasses and trees/shrubs are often placed alongside crop fields where erosion is likely to occur.

Half the plant is underground

One of the first learning experiences that incoming graduate students in forestry encounter is a close-up examination of tree root systems. This is often accomplished by trekking to the nearest forest, where their professor hands them a shovel and instructs them to start digging horizontally until they find the end of the tree roots. This usually ends up with the student far, far away from the trunk, huffing and puffing, muttering something like “I wonder if there is time to change my major.” The point of the exercise is that roots in healthy environments grow far and wide.

Observing root location during various digging operations is informative. Photo: John Fech

In native stands and some older urban soils, mycorrhizal fungi help with nutrient uptake. Roots and mycorrhizae develop a symbiotic relationship in that they gain sustenance from the plant and they provide expansion of the root surface and interface with the soil particles. As a result, a larger and more robust root system develops.

Unfortunately, roots that are under the concrete/asphalt in urban environments don’t develop as well as they do in native stands. Many otherwise well-suited tree species perform poorly in shopping malls, near professional buildings and city centers. One of the most restrictive sites for tree root development is the narrow strip. Examples of these include the “hell strip” or area between the sidewalk and the street in suburban neighborhoods or the “tree pit,” commonly a 4-by-4-foot space in the midst of concrete.

When communicating about roots with your customers, the paradigm of the roots as extending two to three times the spread of the tree width is helpful. Another way is to think of half of the tree being above ground and half underground, taking into account the height, width and canopy.

Roots located near the soil surface can easily raise sidewalks, causing conflict. Photo: John Fech

Let’s take a peek

With regards to tree roots, the naturally inquisitive mind is likely to ponder how deep they grow, how far they spread, and where they are located. Considering that half of the tree is underground, the common notion to dispel is “out of sight, out of mind.” Perhaps the best way to do this is to make the invisible visible. How is this done? Just like many other investigative actions, there are simple and inexpensive ways as well as pricey and quite involved methods.

The first approach is one to take after Mother Nature has acted — to look at trees blown over in windstorms. Casualties of severe weather often serve as learning tools in that the trunk base and upper roots become exposed as a result of the severe weather event. Looking closely and noting where roots are attached to the rest of the tree, their diameter and their direction of growth is highly instructive. Next, making the same observations during soil excavation for construction purposes such as utility or sprinkler system trenching can teach us about their growth, location and orientation.

More involved approaches tend to yield more information. One such method is the use of an air spade, a device that blasts compressed air at tree roots to remove adjacent soil particles. The air spade can be helpful in that it uncovers and exposes most of the roots in the areas where it’s used. Being present when an air spade is exposing roots allows the observer to gain insights into where roots grow easily, where they grow slowly, and where they grow around obstructions in their way.

The most insightful tool to learn about tree root growth is a root observation chamber, such as the one at the U.S. Forest Service facility in Houghton, Mich. Called a rhizotron, it contains clear panels that allow for viewing of the growth of roots in a natural setting. First used to observe the growth of turfgrass root systems, observation chambers such as these provide the viewer with a noninvasive look into where and how extensively roots grow through the soil.

Protect, protect, protect

The first line of defense against damage to root systems is to prevent it from happening in the first place. One of the best methods to inform your clients of this technique is to draw lines on the ground near the approximate spread of the roots on their properties. Then, take simple steps to keep lawn mowers and other damaging machines away from the tree trunk and upper soil layers. Proper placement of mulch will go a long way towards the goal of protecting the tree roots from damage, while creating a more suitable growing medium as decomposition occurs over time.

Potential root system stressors

Especially in the urban environment, the number of potential root system stressors is high. Compaction of the soil in which the roots endeavor to grow is a significant stressor. In many situations, an air spade will reveal the extent of soil compaction. Another technique is to simply monitor the extent of water runoff after a rainfall event or irrigation cycle. If water is slow to infiltrate, it’s likely the soil is compacted.

Root removal is a highly stressful action. I often get the question, “Hey, these tree roots are lifting my sidewalk, can’t I just cut some of them out … won’t the tree be fine afterwards? After all, it’s a big tree.” Of course, the extent of the removal is a factor to be considered, but any root loss is problematic.

One example of a poor growing location for tree root development. Photo John Fech

The lack of separation of turf and trees is not only a landscape design mistake in that it minimizes the valuable aesthetic effects of mass/void, it’s also a tree stressor in that it tends to cause trees to be overfertilized and overwatered due to the fact that the turf and trees are sharing the same rootzone. When not separated, tree roots compete with turf for nutrients, water and oxygen.

Perhaps the largest stressor occurs at planting time. Aggressive soil amendment and failure to correct girdling roots are mistakes that trees often never recover from. New planting stock often contains roots that are tangled and constricted in the ball or pot. As the tree grows, these roots enlarge in length and diameter, becoming girdled and restricting the flow of water and nutrients. Using peat moss or compost to amend backfill soils only makes this potential worse, as the new roots will preferentially grow in the amended soils, usually in a circular fashion.

Consequences

Now what? Keeping the above information in mind, advise your clients of the following:

  • where the roots are;
  • how far they spread and how deep they grow;
  • keep turf separate from trees;
  • use natural wood chip mulch to modify the upper layers of soil and replicate Mother Nature;
  • fertilize according to soil test reports and the potential absence of adequate soil and room for rootzone development;
  • keep construction equipment away from roots; and
  • how to plant trees correctly.

Planting trees correctly involves extending roots outward in a planting area (not a hole), and avoiding amending backfill soils as a way to get the tree off to a good start. Leaving them with the instructions to keep the new roots moist, not soggy or dry, and to water to the depth of the roots will go a long way toward future good tree health.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in October 2012 and has been updated.

The post The Importance of Root Systems appeared first on Tree Services.

Source link

30 May 2017

The Importance of Work Site Communication

Communication & Your Crew

Production tree work is often fast-paced, a continuous flow of personnel, equipment and debris. New and more efficient equipment is developed rapidly, increasing the volume of work it is possible to complete in one day. This increased mechanization, coupled with more advanced techniques, adds a new and ever-increasing level of complexity to tree work. Job sites are often loud, and verbal communication between workers on the ground and climbers is impossible without stopping equipment and hence workflow.

Accurate, concise communication is necessary for safe, efficient job flow. No matter the system of communication a crew chooses, it should incorporate a command and response system. This is to say that if a worker gives a command, such as “stand clear,” another worker responds with another command, “all clear,” when he establishes the situation is safe. The first worker will take no action until the response is given and understood.

An appropriate work plan starts before the sawdust starts flying and will expedite communication during the job. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

An appropriate work plan starts before the sawdust starts flying and will expedite communication during the job. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

Plan your work, work your plan

A tree job begins with a plan. A well laid out plan can help eliminate confusion before it even starts. Having enough room for all the equipment, the proper tools and qualified personnel are all vital. Start each and every job with a pre-job briefing and site inspection. An acronym you may find useful is H.O.P.E.

The letter “H” stands for hazards. These are defined by anything that may pose a threat to the safety of the crew. A common job site hazard is electrical lines. Defining the location of hazards and establishing a protocol for how to safely remove and/or work around them beforehand will save the struggle of having to communicate safety standards or work processes during the job.

The “O” is for obstacles. These are things that can be broken, get in the way and need to be mitigated during a job. Examples of obstacles range from pedestrian traffic to swimming pools. In many cases, obstacles can be moved. Other times, obstacles demand that the crew alter the work plan. An example of this is the decision to lower limbs as opposed to just letting them free fall because an obstacle such as a patio is in the drop zone.

This brings us to the letter “P” for plan. The crew must develop an appropriate plan, keeping all hazards and obstacles in mind. The plan should maximize job flow, but at all times adhere to safety standards and protocol. Deciding beforehand who does what, and when, will go a long way to increasing productivity as well as safety. A team member that has a clearly defined series of tasks and understands how to complete them will require less verbal instruction during the course of a job.

The final letter “E” stands for equipment. A properly equipped and skilled crew is a pleasure to watch. A well-laid plan complements the equipment and space available. Pre-placed equipment adds to the seamless work flow. Equipment should be properly maintained and fully functional with all safeguards in place. Job sites are noisy enough without poorly maintained equipment adding to the decibels. Also, breakdowns can throw a wrench into the best-laid plans. Get your equipment in top shape before the job starts and you won’t have to worry about inefficient pauses and the added confusion they bring.

Hand signals

Even the best-laid plans care can go awry.  A system for communicating changes or new hazards as they develop is useful. Many crews have a set of preestablished hand signals to use. A hand signal can be as simple as a wave to let the climber know you have secured the lowering line. Long, drawn out hand signals should be avoided. The chances of misinterpreting a signal rise with the complexity of the signal.

The crane industry has an excellent set of simple, clear hand signals to use when operating a crane. These signals can easily be adopted to fit many tree work scenarios, whether using a crane or not.

Whichever hand signals are used, remember to keep them simple, concise and clear. Be consistent in their use, both in form and function. Use the signals whenever necessary and use the same signals.

A look from the top down. Tight landing zones, coupled with a climbers limited sight lines, demand good climber to ground personnel communication. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

A look from the top down. Tight landing zones, coupled with a climbers limited sight lines, demand good climber to ground personnel communication. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

Whistles

Noisemakers such as whistles can be used to facilitate crew communications. A preset number of whistle blasts can mean any number of things. For instance, two toots for stand clear and one for all clear. What a crew should keep in mind is that while a tree crew may understand these audible signals, to a pedestrian they are cryptic. Audible signals may work well for your crew, but they are best saved for alerting crew members and pedestrians to upcoming or unexpected hazards.

Whistles are also useful when the crew is spread out over a large area and a climber needs to attract another member of the crew’s attention. Not only will a whistle blast be louder and carry farther, it sounds a lot more professional than a shout.

Headsets

Many companies offer helmet-mounted headset systems that are appropriate for tree work. The ability to talk clearly with specific equipment operators and crew members without shutting down machinery or otherwise interrupting job flow is priceless. The added safety benefit of being able to alert other crew members of new or ongoing hazards or obstacles is equally priceless. If day-to-day operations find you and your crew in loud environments with multiple pieces of equipment running to complete the job, then I recommend a quality set of radio headsets.

When checking into purchasing headsets, a few things to remember are range, privacy and ease of use. If headsets are only going to be used on small, close-knit job sites, then range is not a factor. However, if your crew will be spread out, or if using the headsets for traffic control, too short a range can hamper clear communication.

Many headsets work on the same frequency as cordless phones and baby monitors. Buy a set with as many different channel selections as you can. Nothing is more confusing than hearing an unrelated phone call between two strangers in the middle of a delicate crane pick.

Production tree work often involves multiple pieces of equipment. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

Production tree work often involves multiple pieces of equipment. Photo: Anthony Tresselt

Finally, look for ease of use in headsets. Make sure that the channel can be changed easily to avoid problems. The headsets should fit firmly to the hard hat or underneath existing hearing protection. Many models are push-to-talk, meaning the operator must push a button to speak with co-workers. This is fine, but voice-activated units, especially for workers whose hands are already full, add a lot of convenience and value.

In the fast-paced, noisy world of production tree work, communication is vital. Laying out thorough, well-suited work plans, addressing hazards and obstacles before they become an issue and developing a system for clear communications are important for safety as well as efficient work flow. We all work hard enough during the average day. There is no need to struggle with the simple task of addressing another crew member. Work together as a team to solve communication issues just as you work together to complete a job. We will all be safer and more productive for it.

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in October 2008 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The post The Importance of Work Site Communication appeared first on Tree Services.

Source link