Dump Trucks, Earthmoving Machinery, Site Dumpers

Bell Equipment: Family first principles drive dump trucks

 

Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, South African machinery manufacturer Bell Equipment continues to produce world class equipment, including its renowned articulated dump trucks.


Bell Equipment has established itself globally in the building, distribution, and support of material handling equipment across a broad spectrum of industries, with the range including rigid tractors, forestry and sugarcane extractors, and a soon-to-be-released Bell grader.

However, Bell is best known for producing the world’s largest range of articulated dump trucks (ADTs) and is recognised as an ADT specialist for its ongoing product innovation and class- leading performance in this core product.

Distributed by Hitachi Construction Machinery (HCA) in Australia, Bell ADTs are practically ubiquitous on the country’s construction and earthmoving sites, valued for their robustness and reliability, especially in rugged and demanding terrain.

Bell Equipment offers a range of ADTs tailored to meet the specific needs of Australian industries, characterised by their sturdy construction, advanced features, and exceptional performance in harsh conditions.

Their unique articulated chassis allows for exceptional manoeuvrability, featuring a pivot point between the cab and the dump body that enables the truck to navigate uneven ground and tight spaces with agility and stability.

This articulation also ensures that all wheels remain in contact with the ground at all times, providing superior traction and minimising the risk of slippage.

Bell’s ADTs are equipped with powerful engines that deliver the performance needed to tackle the toughest jobs, whether hauling materials on steep inclines or navigating  through soft soil. These trucks offer ample power and torque to efficiently complete tasks.

Bell ADTs are characterised by their sturdy construction, advanced features, and exceptional performance in harsh conditions.

Safety is a top priority, with features such as advanced braking systems, stability control, and ergonomic cab designs to protect operators and minimise the risk of accidents on the job site.

Comfort and convenience features are also incorporated to ensure that operators can work productively for long hours without fatigue. Features like ROPS/FOPS structures and advanced braking systems provide peace of mind for operators.

Bell ADTs are known for their fuel efficiency and low environmental impact, due to innovative engine technology and intelligent power management systems that optimise fuel consumption while minimising emissions, making them environmentally responsible choices.

Maintenance and serviceability are key considerations, with the machines designed for ease of maintenance, providing convenient access to key components, and comprehensive support from a network of Hitachi service centres across Australia.

Perhaps the most well-known and class- leading is the Bell B45E ADT, a powerful machine engineered to excel in Australian environments, boasting a combination of strength, agility, and efficiency. With a payload capacity of up to 41 tonnes, the B45E is capable of handling substantial loads with ease, offering the best-in-class power-to-weight ratio.

According to HCA National Product Manager  David Gallina, the success of the equipment made by the family-owned company is due to its focus on remaining innovative in the technology it uses.

“They have their own internal software engineers to write the software for the trucks. It’s all in-house. Even the data telematics system, called Fleetmatics by Bell, is created internally, ensuring that customers always have control of machine information and productivity at their fingertips,” he said.

Quality control is absolutely important. Components for the drivetrain and engine, such as Daimler and Spicer parts, are sourced from Europe.

“Even though the ADTs are built in South Africa, they are very much European, with a factory in Germany building Stage5 trucks for the North American and European markets,” David said.

Although Bell manufactures trucks ranging from 18 tonnes up to 60 tonnes, David said HCA brings in trucks in the 25t to 60t range, as well as a couple of water truck models, all built at the factory.

Factory-made water tanks provide better stability and safety compared to locally built and expensive solutions. Bell engineers are involved to ensure a lower centre of gravity, and all water spray applications are integrated into the truck’s software and controlled through the internal SSM keypad.

“Essentially, it’s a turnkey operation. So you can order the water truck and have it delivered complete within a couple of weeks… if we had one in stock.

“We’ve never had a water truck in stock that we’ve been able to hold; they fly out the door,” David said.

Another interesting feature of the ADTs is that they come ready for autonomous operations if needed. Bell has autonomous ADTs operating in an Austrian quarry since 2020, as well as in the USA and South America markets.

“So a reputable third-party supplier can plug into the trucks CAN system, and you could have a completely autonomous truck if required,” he said.

The B45E ADT is a powerful machine engineered to excel in Australian environments, boasting a combination of strength, agility, and efficiency.

Autonomous ADT trucks are not yet common in Australia, not even in the mining regions, but HCA and Bell are ready if any company wants to use them in their operations.

David said there were many levels of autonomy available on the truck, from complete  autonomy with no drivers, to the addition of certain features.

“For example, if operators just want more safety features, they could do that; say add pedestrian detection systems, and they will automatically brake the truck if it detects a person or any solid object,” he said.

“We were one of the first on the market with on-board weighing, hill assist control, and safety tip dumping prevention to ensure the correct safe dumping angles.

“The software also manages speed. Operators can use a geofence to limit the speed of the truck depending on the site they are in. For instance, on long haul roads, the truck may operate at maximum speed, but in restricted areas, the GPS automatically detects the location and lowers the speed accordingly.

“In fact, these trucks are equipped with one of the best retardation safety features for downhill descents, allowing the driver to select a safe downhill descent speed without needing to manually control the brakes. Additionally, a tip function enables the trucks to spread the load  at a predetermined speed over a set distance”.

With all these features, it’s noteworthy that Bell ADTs are also among the quietest trucks on the market.

“In short, there’s a lot Bell can do with the  trucks because they are made in-house with their own engineers,” David said.

“We’ll just go to the engineers and ask, ‘Can you do this’? And they’ll say ‘Yes, we can’, making us an extremely flexible to market demands.”

The family principles also extend to the wider community that Bell serves.

“The importance of looking after the community ranks very highly within the Bell family,” David said.

“Despite all the advancements available in utilising autonomous technology and robotisation, Bell still makes it a point to employ and upskill as many local people as possible in its manufacturing facility.

“Being a family business, Bell considers involvement with community support as very important, and that’s highly commendable.”

Bell also makes water tanks in the factory which provide better stability and safety compared to locally built and expensive solutions.

 

 

Send this to a friend