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ADTs major driver of award-winning Bell Equipment’s export growth

Bell OEM product manager Jeremiah Mokhomo

17th December 2023

By: Tracy Hancock

Creamer Media Contributing Editor

     

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With more than 70% of the articulated dump trucks (ADTs) built by original-equipment manufacturer (OEM) Bell Equipment in Richards Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, being exported, ADTs were a major contributor to the company’s exports increasing by 20% in 2022, says Bell OEM product manager Jeremiah Mokhomo.

As the company’s core product and leading export, owing to the benefits realised in productivity, safety, ease of operation and operational costs, ADTs played a significant role in Bell being named the overall winner at the 2023 South African Capital Equipment Export Council (SACEEC) Exporter of the Year Awards. This is in addition to winning exporter of the year with a turnover of over R5-billion a year.

While winning awards is not Bell’s objective, he says it is gratifying to be recognised for the company’s role and commitment to successfully developing long-term relationships with its international customers and suppliers.

“Manufacturing is one of the industries that has the single greatest potential to make a massive difference to South Africa’s economy and unemployment level, so we appreciate the attention that the expo and the Exporter of the Year Awards focus on the sector.

“Winning this award provides a strong platform for Bell to further expand its international presence and we hope that we can encourage and inspire other exporters,” states Mokhomo.

Last year, Bell increased its ADT sales by 30%. The mining industry represents the greatest demand for the company’s ADTs in Africa and South East Asia owing to the growing demand for minerals used in traditional and clean energy technologies, he notes.

However, most Bell ADTs are exported to the northern hemisphere, with the US representing the greatest demand in 2023, followed by the UK. In these markets construction is responsible for driving demand.

The Start of it All

Since manufacturing its first ADT ­– the 25 t B25A – in 1984, the company's ADT range has grown to include nine 6 x 6 and three 4 x 4 models.

The range now caters for several more challenging ADT haulage applications and offers cost-effective 4 x 4 models for customers who do not need 6 x 6 functionality on their job sites.

Bell’s flagship 40 t B40 ADT was launched by 1989, with the doubling of the Richards Bay plant capacity. In 1992, the small B-series ADTs were launched and the B40B followed in 1996.

In 1998, the C-series ADTs were introduced and by 2001, Bell’s range of D-series ADTs rolled off the line, with the world’s largest ADT – the B50D – joining the range in 2002. Production of the B60D 4 x 4 started in 2014 – a year after Bell’s small E-series range was introduced in 2013. The large E-series range was launched in 2016.

“The Bell B45E is our most popular model because of its larger payload capacity, enhanced performance, wider applicability and better value proposition compared with competitor trucks. It was developed to meet market demand for a versatile mining or bulk earthwork machine with a payload capacity between 40 t and 50 t,” explains Mokhomo.

More on Manufacturing

Bell’s manufacturing area has increased substantially since its Richards Bay facility was commissioned in 1984. The company has also kept abreast of technological advancements to improve manufacturing efficiency and quality to ensure its products are world class, adds Mokhomo.

“Today, our factory makes extensive use of horizontal and vertical machining centres, robotic welders and various cutting and drilling tools to achieve optimal accuracy and efficiency. In addition, highly specialised coordinate measuring machines ensure consistent quality throughout all our manufacturing processes.”

More than 2 000 people are involved in the ADT manufacturing process at Bell in South Africa, where the lead time for a Bell ADT is about six months.

“We try to work in advance with customers to match production deliveries to when they need the machines,” highlights Mokhomo.

The local content of a Bell ADT is estimated to be about 70%.

“Unfortunately, we are unable to source some of the larger components like engines and transmissions locally as there are no local manufacturers,” adds Mokhomo.

Ease of operation and enhanced vehicle protection, safety features and productivity set Bell ADTs apart from competitor products, he advances.

“Further, features such as onboard weighing, i-Tip, automatic traction control and Bell Fleetm@tic® telematics are provided standard, at no extra cost, unlike many other ADTs on the market. We are also ready and able to seamlessly integrate with proximity detection systems and numerous vehicle control and guidance systems.”

In addition, Bell ADTs are highly customisable according to customers’ specific needs, which includes the accommodation of different paint specs and bin sizes, for example. The Bell VersaTruck programme also enables customers to choose from various Bell ADT permutations to best suit their application requirements.

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