Mercedes-Benz Unimog irreplaceable in the timber industry

Words John Clark | May 17, 2011
A unique vehicle concept with outstanding off-road mobility due to its four-wheel drive and fast driving features
Words John Clark May 17, 2011

With his Mercedes-Benz U 400 Unimog, Jens Seiner is adept at finding clever and simple solutions. Just like Columbus when discovering America, the owner of Autotechnik Seiner manages to devise simple solutions to problems for which there is no apparent solution. In order to be able to collect timber efficiently from the forest and deliver it to timber specialists a long way away despite rising diesel prices, Seiner uses a combination of two different methods of transport: His Unimog is fitted with a timber crane superstructure to collect tree trunks from the forest, and then a Unimog truck-trailer unit delivers the goods to the customer.

So that he can avoid wasting time reloading, Seiner does not put the tree trunks on stanchion truck-trailer combinations but in roll-off containers. “This solution allows me to kill two birds with one stone,”says the man from Ilmenau. “In this way no difficulties arise when securing a load with two metre trunks lying crosswise to the direction of the road;also it is virtually impossible to overload the vehicle and there are a lot fewer empty runs as there is always scrap metal, rubble or other debris to be carried on the return journey.”In addition he saves fuel. The Unimog U 400 with its 4.2 l four-cylinder 130 kW (177 HP) diesel engine uses a lot less fuel for loading and transporting than a powerful timber truck for long distance trips. The man from Thuringia is more than satisfied with its diesel consumption of about eleven litres per operating hour.

The Unimog with its very ingenious hydraulic system is vital for Autotechnik Seiner. There is hardly any other vehicle which can be used for so many jobs as this comparatively small power pack. Where a normal truck does not even arrive, this sturdy, manoeuvrable four-wheel drive still manages to get through. This is really appreciated by skilled tool-maker and car mechanic Seiner when travelling over snowy or muddy forest roads.

“It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, I can collect timber from any corner of the Thuringia Forest with my tough mate from Mercedes-Benz. But I don’t let the container roll off the fixed centre trailer using the hooking device until my 30-tonne truck-trailer combination has once more got firm ground under its wheels. The roll-off loader with its trailer is there ready and waiting to take on two full containers at the same time which makes the transport by road to wood pulp or chipboard plants, or sawmill very cost-effective,”explained Seiner. He goes all year round with his U 400 to collect wood from the forest district run by the Thuringian Forest Authority Paulinzella which covers a total area of almost 50,000 acres of woodland and provides a harvest of about 78,500 cubic yards of wood a year.

A multitude of attachable implements for various kinds of work

When Seiners doesn’t happen to be using his “Universal-Motor-Gerät” (shortened to: Unimog) for moving wood, he uses his four-wheel drive vehicle for winter services to clear snow from roads, forest trails or the nearby ICE railway track construction site. In addition he uses it to clean roads, mow verges and green areas, build trails, help on construction sites or tow cars. For all these different types of jobs, the enthusiastic Unimog fan has a whole range of implements which can be attached or mounted to his vehicle such as a snow plough, gritter, water tank, cutters or crane. Some of his attachments are produced at his headquarters in Geilsdorf which is close to Ilmenau. The equipment transforms the Unimog U 400 in no time at all into a suitable workhorse which is simply born to achieve.

60 Years Jubilee for the Mercedes-Benz Unimog

Sixty years ago, the first Mercedes-Benz Unimog rolled off the assembly line in Gaggenau. A unique vehicle concept with outstanding off-road mobility due to its four-wheel drive and fast driving features for road use had come into being. Daimler AG is celebrating this jubilee in 2011 with a multitude of events. These include a huge rally of historical and current Unimog models at the Mercedes-Benz Wörth Plant on Saturday, June 4th. Detailed information about the event as well as how to register for it can be found online: www.mercedes-benz.com/unimog-60jahre. On Sonntag, June 5th there will be jubilee celebrations at the Unimog Museum in Gaggenau (www.unimog-museum.com).