The king of the forest is a gentle giant

Finland, Vieremä

Pentti Hukkanen, a former designer at Ponsse, does not run out of ideas.
“When I was young, I started looking for work, and there was a vacancy for a welder at Ponsse. I checked out a couple of other opportunities, but Ponsse offered 50 pennies more per hour. I got to work on machine parts and welding. There wasn’t any actual factory yet, rather a workshop for manual assembly. We carried out all the work stages, and there weren’t a lot of people involved. It was the 1970s. Times were poor compared with the present day, but I guess people were quite happy.”

These are the thoughts of Pentti Hukkanen from Kiuruvesi, who was employed by Ponsse for more than 40 years. Hukkanen’s career developed slowly over the years. After his first stint at Ponsse, he first performed his military service and then worked elsewhere for a while.
“I was supposed to return to Ponsse, but I wanted to try out other type of work first. Finally, I ended up studying mechanical engineering at a technical college in Kajaani. After my studies, I worked at a couple of jobs and planned studying some more, when Jouko Kelppe, who was an engineering manager at Ponsse, started calling me and asking me to work for them. He said, ‘you’ll have time for studies later, we have some urgent work right now.’”

One of the first challenging assignments of the designer’s career was turning the S15 and HS15 machine types, which had aluminium frames at the time, to use steel frames.
“Ponsse did not yet have any smaller class machines, and a project was quietly initiated to develop the smaller S10 and HS10 types. One requirement was that the steel frames must not weigh any more than the aluminium ones. Durability could not be compromised, either.”
“There were four designers working, with Kelppe as the manager: Jorma Hyvönen, Pasi Mikkonen, me and Kaarle Ruotanen handling the documentation. Everything was still done with quite a small team.”

In the mid-1990s, the Ergo, Cobra, Caribou and Buffalo machines were introduced within one year. “The preconditions have not changed over the years–the machine must always be able to move on all kinds of terrain, whatever may be encountered in a forest. The weight of a forwarder must not increase; otherwise, it will reduce the load capacity.

A harvester, on the other hand, must have ample power for the work, and there are many ways to accomplish this. However, the laws of physics enter into the picture at some point. For instance, crane movement speeds have their limits, after which other means must be found. They cannot always be easily solved, but may require a lot of effort, including compromises.”

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