In the early 1960s, Engineering Services Rotorua Ltd was a small general engineering company servicing the region’s agriculture and transport industries.
The workshops were located adjacent to the office for International Harvester (wheeled loader importer) which, together with proximity to central North Island forests, helped develop an involvement in log handling equipment.
The huge forests of the central plateau were reaching maturity by the mid 1960's and harvesting operations increased. Imported log loading machinery was not ideally suited to local contractors; forks and grapples needed strengthening and refining to work in the unique, exacting way Kiwi logging contractors and transport operators required.
Soon Engineering Services was cutting and modifying log grapples, and manufacturing complete units for local importers and contractors who could request specific features and benefits in a log grapple and have specifications met exactly.
The Ensign brand was born and the log grapple (or fork) for wheeled loaders became an important tool throughout the forestry sector. The Ensign range covered grapples for every aspect of log handling, from small units for thinning to the largest wheeled loaders used in marshaling operations. The custom designs covered a variety of log handling situations, offering various grapple shapes, sizes and clamping actions to suit individual contractors.
This flexibility in design remains a key plank to Engineering Services’ success and the important factor in the growth and popularity of the Ensign brand. Attachments for wheeled and tracked loaders grew to include hydraulic quick couplers, heavy duty pallet forks and a loader bucket range for all applications.
During the 1980s prominence of the wheeled loader for local log handling diminished with the introduction of excavators. Imported rotating log grapples, mainly from the USA worked well so the challenge was to produce a locally manufactured unit with obvious benefits of price, parts and manufacturer’s back up.
The first Ensign grapple was produced in 1995. Since then hundreds have made their mark throughout NZ. Again the willingness of Ensign to produce custom designs has proven beneficial to both customer and manufacturer. The Ensign range includes the popular 20 and 30 tonne 1500 and 1700 range, but also a range of small, large capacity and wide grapples, European bunching style, fixed top, saw grapples and felling heads.
Ensign brand equipment can now be found across the South Pacific and Micronesia. It has wide acceptance with operators of specialised log handling machinery; ease of handling being a key determining success factor, allowing operators to sort, stack and load large quantities of logs with minimum turn-around time. Engineering Services Rotorua has injected over 45 years of experience in the logging industry into its designs and back-up services aimed at ensuring full serviceability of all units under widely varying conditions.