Machine supplier Bell Equipment’s ReMan repower programme, through which refurbishments of articulated dump trucks (ADTs) are conducted by Bell Equipment, has helped the company to mitigate some of the economic impact of Covid-19 in Zambia.
Bell Equipment Zambia MD Mike Quin says the impact of Covid-19 has exacerbated the poor state of the Zambian mining industry and economy, with Bell’s ADT sales having declined and two of the company’s largest customers in the gemstone industry operating below full production.
He adds that the programme has been positively received by customers wanting to rebuild their older D-series ADTs.
“This offers a good solution to contractors who can extend the life of their machine by 12 000 hours, or 66%, at less than half of the price of a new ADT model, and still benefit from a good warranty period. This ensures added value for our customers, and we provide them with the lowest cost per ton solution on the market,” enthuses Quin.
He recounts that, during 2017 and 2018, the company refurbished three ADTs each year in Bell Equipment’s ten-bay workshop in Kitwe. The five-year-old facility is a 4 226 m2 building with an 800 m2 parts storage compartment.
Those figures have increased, however, with the company completing nine refurbishments in 2019 and seven last year.
“At this stage the industry is stagnant. There has been no significant growth in the industry over the past two years, even with copper prices at an all-time high – when one would expect an increase an investment. We are market leaders with ADTs in Zambia, and achieve this through a well-priced, quality product and after-sales support.”
The fact that ADTs can be rebuilt economically and have their life extended highlights the benefits of Bell Equipment’s being able to select the best components from the best suppliers, says Quin.
A rebuild also enables customers to repower their machines for a second life during tough economic conditions, compared with those of Bell competitors, which may offer only a replacement machine as a solution.
Since the company introduced the ReMan repower programme in 2017, Bell Equipment has expanded it to a full “nuts and bolts” rebuild programme, which includes the complete stripping of a B40D ADT and rebuilding it completely, with new tyres, for about $240 000, depending on which parts are replaced.
There has been an increase in demand for refurbishing the B40D series ADTs, in particular, across all sectors of the mining industry, claims Quin.
Bell will this year also introduce new low-profile ADTs for the underground mining sector in the 30 t and 35 t range, he adds.
Safety and Spare Parts Supply
Quin stresses Bell’s prioritising safety in the design of its machines, adding that the company’s latest E-series generation of ADTs offers a safe mining product, owing to the inclusion of features offered as standard across the range.
These features include keyless starting, an automatic park brake and hill assist to prevent roll-back, as well as automated tipping with i-Tip and Tip Safe to prevent unsafe tipping.
“Bell ADTs also feature geofencing and gradient-based speed-control systems. Our Fleetm@tic telematics solution also provides production information with a high-level of granularity to view fuel consumption per cycle, and payload data through on-board weighing,” he adds.
Power-to-weight ratios are also a significant safety factor, says Quin. Bell offers ideal power-to-weight ratios across its ADT range, as well as an efficient drivetrain based on the Mercedes-Benz engine, and Allision transmission, with FuelSense software to optimise gear-shift patterns.
He notes that Bell Equipment’s significant fleet in Zambia’s mining industry creates several advantages through aftermarket opportunities, with the company’s spare parts offering contributing well to the overall business.
“Our biggest challenge, however, is holding the correct parts at the right time for our customers. To deal with this, we use sophisticated material requirements planning and forecasting solutions to optimise our inventory and consistently assess our safety stock to ensure that we continue to offer the best possible support to our customers.”
Quin further highlights the importance of parts and service backup for the company and its customers, particularly as the current constrained economic environment forces customers to be financially conservative.
“We stock about $4-million worth of parts for the machines sold in Zambia. In terms of service backup, we have our own technical training centre at our Kitwe facility that develops local and regional heavy-duty mechanics to a world-class standard through our apprentice programme,” he concludes.