Intelligent off-road trucking keeps Bell in the driver's seat
When it comes to off-road trucking, Bell Equipment is a major global competitor and innovation leader in the Articulated Dump Truck (ADT) market; often setting the benchmark in the marketplace with its locally designed and manufactured product range that offers the highest levels of automation and control.
Terry Gillham, Director of Sales and Marketing for Bell Equipment Sales South Africa (BESSA), says the company has been market leader in South Africa for the past 25 years, in spite of increased activity from all the major international players in what has become one of the largest ADT markets by world standards. He attributes the success of the Bell ADT to the "whole value proposition" the company offers its customers.
According to Gillham this includes offering the largest range of ADTs on the global market. Bell Equipment offers the world's only 20-ton ADT, which is road legal for added versatility, as well as a 50-ton truck, the B50, which is the world's largest production ADT. Further expanding on this, the company is also testing prototypes of its 60-tonne truck concept, which takes ADT design and innovation into a new league, opening up opportunities for the ADT specialist in a domain that was previously only contested by rigid haulers.
"Of course, then there is the product itself. Bell ADTs offer lowest cost per tonne productivity, fuel efficiency, ergonomics, safety and reliability," he adds. "Product support is another discerning factor, particularly in Africa, where we have 60 years of experience building and distributing equipment in Africa for African conditions. Over this time we have developed an extensive footprint to provide first class customer support. This includes superior parts availability and competitive parts pricing."
The company's latest product developments are showcased in its E-series generation of small trucks, which went into production a year ago. These trucks have set new standards in safety, driver comfort and truck management. ADT functionality has also been taken to new levels with customer-focused advancements and the highest level of automated machine protection.
Bell Product Marketing Manager, Tristan du Pisanie, says: "Today safety features are a major consideration for most customers when they buy an ADT and our engineers have incorporated many of our safety improvements as standard features.
"With this in mind, the E-series incorporates our ground-breaking innovations such as keyless ignition, HillAssist, Bin Tip Prevention, Auto Park Application (APA), standard Turbo Spin Protection and On-Board Weighing (OBW), which are standard features across our small and large truck ranges."
Unlike most road trucks, Bell ADTs also have a certified ROPS/FOPS (Roll Over Protection structure/Falling Object Protective structure) cab while an emergency steering pump is powered by the drivetrain so that the ADT will still have steering in the event of an engine failure.
Following the trend of road trucks, Bell Equipment offers a fleet monitoring system on its ADTs. Du Pisanie says the Bell system, Fleetm@tic, has been designed in-house in order to provide customers with a tailor-made tool to meet their needs according to their operating environments. "Our machines sometimes run in places where there is very little infrastructure, so our system also transmits data via the Iridium satellite network as opposed to only the cell phone network. We also have an on-board weighing system that tracks the mass of each load, providing our customers with detailed knowledge of how their machine is running as well as how much their machine has carried."
Commenting on prospects for the ADT market, Gillham reports that reduced activity in the construction industry and uncertainty in the mining industry - the two largest markets for ADTs - has resulted in a general decline in unit sales for ADTs in recent months. However, he is optimistic that the 18 Strategic Infrastructure Projects have the potential to breathe new life into the market. "We have all been waiting for the past three years for the roll-out of the National Development Plan, in which these 18 projects are encapsulated. Should these projects come to fruition, there is no question that there will be an increase in demand for ADTs, as a popular haulage vehicle for large earthworks and construction projects," he said.
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