Bell celebrates 10 years of German manufacturing at BAUMA 2013
2013 will be a milestone year in the history of Bell Equipment's German manufacturing facility, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary and gears up for the production of the new Bell E-series generation of Articulated Dump Trucks (ADTs) later in the year. Following the company's recent announcement to re-enter the Americas, the world's largest ADT market, the factory will also increase its production to supply Bell ADTs to this strategic new market.
Comments Bell Equipment Group Chief Executive, Gary Bell: "Having started manufacturing in Germany 10 years ago we've had a fair opportunity to assess the value of producing our trucks in Europe and going forward we believe that our decision to produce in Germany is still good and valid. We've positioned the company well to leverage new opportunities and are looking forward to the exciting times that lie ahead. We are also satisfied with the quality of our product from this factory; it's produced to a high standard as expected from a German facility."
Looking back Bell Equipment started construction on its German manufacturing facility at Eisenach at the beginning of 2003 and the first of its European-produced D-series Articulated Dump Trucks (ADTs) rolled of the production line in October that same year. Ten years later Bell Equipment has established itself as a strong, reliable ADT specialist in the construction industry and earthmoving sector. In addition the company has grown its local supplier database, showing its deep-rooted commitment to the European region.
The company took the decision to develop the German factory following the immense worldwide success of its D-series ADT. Recalls Bell: "ADT production at our South African factory was near capacity and developing a European assembly plant presented many benefits in terms of flexible production, short delivery distances, improved logistics, the guarantee of additional machines and the strategic positioning for future growth in Central and Eastern Europe.
"During the initial phase the factory supplied product to North America, however, that was terminated in 2005 due to a new arrangement with our American partners. Prior to this the factory had reached its design volumes and was running with pleasing efficiency," he said.
"While volumes have not been as great as expected in recent years, and the European market hasn't fully recovered from the 2008/2009 global recession, it has provided sufficient volume for the factory and given us the benefit of not having to 'round trip' our product. This has enabled us to focus on localising some of our component manufacture to Germany as well as to build our markets in the region and grow our distribution footprint to provide better support.
"As volumes increase to Eastern Europe, in particular Russia, it is our intent to further improve local value add and improve the company's competitiveness in these markets," he added.
Although the overall market outlook for 2013 is not positive, with a 5 to 10% drop in market sales forecast, Bell is hoping to maintain similar levels to 2012 and has planned for a 15% increase in European volumes. In addition the facility will re-launch the production of trucks for the North Americas following the appointment of Wajax Equipment as the Canadian dealer and distributor of its range of ADTs. Said Bell: "We are excited to be able to return to these markets, ADTs are the backbone of our business and a product we specialise in and access to the American markets is key to our global plans. As such we have planned for a significant increase for North American volumes off a low base.”
Meanwhile work to equip and convert the German factory for the manufacture of the full range of E-series ADTs started early in 2013. The E-series meets the next tier of engine emission requirements and features some of the most cutting edge ADT technology to build on the company's heritage as an ADT specialist.
Concludes Bell: "2013 should be a exciting year for the company in terms of growing our presence in North and South America and launching our E-series ADT to the global market. At the factory research and development continues strongly and this year we begin testing our 60-ton truck."
The flow-line concept with parallel component preparation of Bell Equipment's European ADT factory allows the flexible production of all models according to market demand. Bell Eisenach assembles all Blu@dvantage Bell trucks for the company’s EU-IIIb markets and North American Tier4i markets.
Highly qualified personnel form the backbone of Bell Equipment’s assembly concept in Eisenach, Germany. Here driveline components such as Mercedes-Benz engines and Allison transmissions are prepared in parallel to the truck assembly.
The European factory was designed from the outset to assemble the varied Bell truck range – from the smaller trucks up to the flagship Bell B50D. After strict end-of-line checks the Bell trucks are delivered to Bell dealers and customers across the northern hemisphere.