Bell Equipment unveiled the latest in its 4×4 articulated truck line up, the Bell B30E 4×4, at Intermat last week. The truck is now in prototype stage and expected to be in production in 2019.
Aimed at small to medium-sized quarries, the B30E 4×4 gives these operations an alternative to rigid haul trucks and 6×6 articulated trucks. While giving up some of the severe-duty rough-terrain capabilities of the 6×6, the B30E in turn offers increased maneuverability, reduced tire wear and less disruption of haul roads.
“Many customers in the quarry and aggregates business do not need 6×6 capabilities,” said Tristan du Pisanie, Bell product marketing manager, during an interview on the Intermat show floor. “They have well-maintained haul roads and they do not strip their own overburden. What they need is a reliable, economic hauler that gives them the flexibility to work in weather conditions and saves wear on the tires.”
Hard rock haul roads and tight turns also present wear problems for the middle axle and tires of a 6×6, says Bell.
The 4×4 version does have its disadvantages, however. Because the load is on a single instead of double axle, the ground pressure is higher, and the truck won’t work as well as a 6×6 in deep mud.
The front of the 4×4 truck is identical to the 6×6 version, while the rear axle uses componentry coming off the firm’s B40 and B50 trucks. Powered by a 246-kilowatt Mercedes-Benz turbocharged diesel engine, the B30E 4×4 uses an Allison 6-speed automatic transmission, a pre-selectable gearbox retarder and large-diameter wet brakes on all wheels.
The two-axle truck has the same 30-ton payload as Bell’s 30-ton 6×6 version. The 36-metric-ton rear axle is fitted with specialized Michelin 29.5R25 mining tires.
Real-time data from sensors on the truck, including on-board weighing and pitch/roll, give information to embedded software in the truck controller.
The B30E 4×4 has been in field trial with a German construction and materials processing firm since October 2017, replacing a Bell 25-ton truck. The company’s application – short haul cycles on well-maintained roadways — do not require 6×6 traction.
Bell says it has been custom producing a 30-ton 4×4 for years, and it saw a market for a production model unit.
B45 4×4 on its way
By April of next year, Bell hopes to have its new B45 4×4 on display during the Bauma international trade show in Munich, Germany.
“This will be our medium-sized 4×4 solution, built to replace a 60-ton rigid frame hauler or a 50-ton 6×6 hauler,” says du Pisanie. “Then we will have a comprehensive range of production 4x4s, making us unique in the market.”
North Carolina logistics center underway
Bell is in the process of establishing an American Logistics Centre this year in North Carolina.
“The U.S. center will help us cover the northern hemisphere,” says du Pisanie. It will join the company’s two other logistics operations in Germany and Johannesburg, South Africa.
Bell had previously announced that its 2017 revenues were up 13 percent, and that the company had sold 30 percent more trucks in 2017 compared to 2016. Sales were split evenly between the company’s main regions of North America, Europe and Africa/Oceania.
Even though the overall North American articulated truck market was down 2 percent compared with 2016, Bell saw a market rebound in the fourth quarter of 2017 with expectations the artic market will show positive growth this year. In spite of a slight overall market decline, Bell said it was able to increase its volume of artics into the North American market by more than 40 percent.
Bell added five new dealers in North America last year. The Bell E-Series 40-ton-and-over large trucks were well received by dealers and customers, Bell says. Bell’s three main markets in the region – mining, aggregates and construction –show signs of positive recovery, “which we feel offers some good optimism for the next two years in the North American market,” says Neville Paynter, president, Bell Equipment North America.