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Bell make their mark on Smiths of Gloucester

Bell B30E

Company impressed by alternative fuel solution and fuel efficiency of Bell articulated dumptrucks

THE hire of two Bell B30E articulated dumptrucks (ADTs) for use on a construction site in Stroud in 2020 was the catalyst for family-run Smiths of Gloucester to invest in their own fleet of dumptrucks again after a lengthy hiatus.

Having previously owned an alternative brand of ADTs that were, in the company’s own words, ‘parked up more often than working’, the positive experience with the Bell dumptrucks restored the company’s faith and led to a review of its rental policy.

Plant manager Rob Davis initially hired the two Bell dumpers from a local hire business to haul and stockpile topsoil on a housing project prior to archaeological inspection. To complete the contract a further two ADTs were required, but with no more Bell B30Es available locally, two competitive dumptrucks of the same size and specification were brought in to complete the job.

This proved to be an interesting experiment for Mr Davis, who noted that the Bell ADTs were, by far, the most fuel efficient; each B30E consumed 60–70 litres less red diesel per day, equating to savings (at the time) of more than £300 per week.

Today, according to Mr Davis, that saving is far greater. ‘Given that we provide operators and fuel to our customers, this saving was exceptionally attractive to us as a business and made the business case more compelling for buying our own machines again,’ he said.

The company initiated a conversation with Bell Equipment about buying a couple of machines in 2021 after winning the groundworks contract for a new warehouse on an industrial site in Gloucester. The ability to run on an alternative fuel source was mandatory and two Bell B30Es were duly delivered in time for the start of the project.

‘Our client, a Tier 1 contractor, has net-zero-carbon ambitions and requires a sustainable fuel solution for all plant and equipment, and that formed part of our discussions with Bell,’ explained Mr Davis. ‘The machines were able to successfully run on HVO (hydrogenated vegetable oil) for the duration of the project with no detriment to performance, and we’ve been able to successfully refill the machines with diesel for subsequent jobs,’

In-between contracts, the two machines work at Cotswold Hill Quarry, one of a cluster of quarries producing natural stone and aggregates near Cheltenham, in the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The site is leased by Smiths to extract natural stone, which is sold to a stonemason on site and turned into building products, whilst any inferior stone is crushed and screened to produce aggregates and sand.

The Bell ADTs are used for multiple purposes in the quarry, including the movement of stone for crushing and processing on site, as well as the transportation of spoil for the creation of new haul roads and the reinstatement of previously quarried areas.

‘Performance and operator comfort are givens for all our machinery brands,’ continued Mr Davis. ‘Where the Bell ADTs excel is their fuel efficiency, which is a real bonus. Aftercare is also very important, and if we need anything, which is very rare, the service engineers are quick to respond to fix any problem.

‘Another outstanding feature for us is the [email protected] telematics system, which we have found to be the best system across all our plant. It helps us manage the machines and gives us an accurate production rate. We have been able to eliminate a lot of idle time thanks to monitoring the machines.’

Smiths, who have first call on the machines for their own jobs and supplement any periods of temporary inactivity by hiring out the machines with operators, say utilization is exceptional; there is always a demand for the machines, to the extent than an order for two lighter B20Es has been placed for delivery in the second half of 2022.

The versatile B20E machines have very low ground-bearing pressure and are preferred by customers on sites where archaeological surveying is required. As this constitutes 50% of the company’s normal workload, Mr Davis believes they will be equally in demand, so much so that he expects to place a further order in 2023 and sees no reason not to stay with the Bell brand going forward.

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