On Cloud Nine
- 07 May 2012
- Company & Industry News
Wheeled loaders have become a familiar sight in the UK waste and recycling industry. Yet waste operators have consistently struggled to maintain uptime due to dust clogging up their machinery. Until now that is. More and more customers are now turning to Bell Equipment, whose loaders are making heads turn.
The UK waste and recycling industry provides an invaluable service in keeping our nations clean and green.
Yet the end result belies the harsh and dusty working conditions experienced across the sector. This is particularly true of indoor recycling plants.
While the human operators protect themselves from dusty atmospheres with face masks and goggles, wheeled loader manufacturers have mostly failed to provide the perfect solution in preventing airborne debris from building up in engines and cooling systems.
The problem causes expensive downtime and excessive machine maintenance.
But, in 2009, Bell Equipment introduced its six-strong range of wheeled loaders to the UK, and customers have been increasingly impressed; not only by the higher-than-average standard specifications and power but by their ability to keep on working in the very harshest of waste handling environments.
The secret lies primarily in Bell's unique QuadCool cooling system, which keeps the internal mechanics clean and operational, whatever type of environment the loaders are operating in.
New West Gypsum Recycling, based in Avonmouth, Bristol, is a prime example of where Bell loaders have shone.
The company, which operates from an industrial estate in St Andrews Road, provides the harshest test for any machinery. Its core task involves breaking up used or damaged plasterboard and turning it to calcium sulphate powder, which is then delivered to Lafarge to make new plasterboard.
The operation, which processes between 500 and 1,000 tonnes of material per week, takes place inside a shed that is constantly shrouded in a cloud of white dust.
In 2010, New West Gypsum trialled a Bell loader when it was looking to replace an existing machine from another manufacturer. The trial went well and the plant now operates two Bell L1506E wheeled loaders.
Bob Curd, UK operations manager for New West Gypsum Recycling, said: "Our working environment would challenge any machine, but we've noticed a huge difference with the Bells due to the QuadCool system. We've certainly seen a reduction in downtime."
"Whereas we were continually having to blow out our previous loaders, we could now get away with doing it every other day if we had to. They're fantastic machines."
The story is similar at Premier Waste, in Perry Barr, Birmingham, which operates one of the largest indoor recycling facilities in the country. Premier Waste segregates virtually all types of construction, demolition and municipal waste, including plastics, wood, metals, soils and aggregates.
Mark Jones, of Premier Waste, said he was immediately interested in looking at a Bell loader when he first came across them at the 2010 Hillhead exhibition. He trialled a demo machine and purchased a new L1706E with high-tip bucket.
Mr Jones said: "It's got great build quality and many people commented on how robust it looked. It is all-singing-and-dancing – the fact it came with all the added extras as standard was also very important."
After performing 6,000 hours of service in around 12 months, Premier Waste has now traded-in the original machine for a new L1706E plus a slightly smaller L1506E.
"Other loaders we've operated have had problems with fans clogging up due to the working environment," said Mr Jones. "But as soon as I saw the QuadCool system on Bell's loaders I realised it was possible to overcome this problem.
"We would generally need to clean our other machines three or four times a day, but with the QuadCool we now do it once a day at the end of each shift. We probably don't even need to do it that often. We've definitely saved on downtime."
The QuadCool system was designed by John Deere, which manufactures Bell's loaders in the US to UK specifications. It was initially designed to counter the airborne debris common in the US agricultural market.
QuadCool places the wide-core radiator, transmission, axle, hydraulic and air-to-air coolers in a separate compartment to the engine. The individual mounting of wide-core radiators on Bell's loader range eliminates debris collection in between radiators, which is common in other manufacturers' machines.
With the E-Series loaders, steel access panels have fine mesh screens to filter cooling air as it enters the QuadCool system. The holes in the screen are substantially smaller than the wide-core radiators, so any debris drawn in passes straight through the system, thus extending intervals between cleaning – and increasing up-time.
Included "as standard" in the QuadCool system is the automatic reversing fan and a proportional fan speed, which operates independently to the engine.
It is a system which has not failed to impress a growing number of Bell customers in the waste and recycling sector, many of whom were unfamiliar with the strong reputation Bell had already established with its articulated dump trucks.
Industry leader Görrel purchased 12 Bell loaders in 2011 following a successful demo at a wood recycling plant in Manchester.
Mike Haskell, general manager of Görrel, said: "The extremely dusty environment was intentionally chosen to really put the Bell machines through their paces.
"Other loaders operating on that particular site have experienced severe overheating problems due to the airborne debris clogging up the system, leading to a lot of downtime for cleaning and maintenance.
"The Bell L1706E loader that was trialled performed impressively and was still spotlessly clean after the end of the demo."
Other Bell loaders have been purchased by the likes of Tom Waste Solutions in Scotland, Slough Heat & Power (Scottish & Southern Energy), Earthline and Brewsters Waste Management in East London.
Without exception, every one of them has been impressed with the Bells and, particularly, with the way the QuadCool system overcomes the problems of debris build-up in indoor applications.
Brewsters Waste Management bought its L1806E loader from Bell after having a larger L2106E machine on hire from Görrel.
Part-owner Steven Brewster said: "It's a beautiful machine – and for the price and the extras you'd have to be silly not to look at it.
"The reversing fan works perfectly. With the machines we've had before we would need to blow them out every other day; but even after having the Bell machine for three weeks, it still didn't need it. That's pretty impressive when, apart from a coal mine, I don't think you can get a harsher, dustier environment than this."
Slough Heat & Power, a subsidiary of Scottish & Southern Energy, purchased three new Bell L1806E loaders to work in its woodchip and waste-derived fuel processing sites, once again after trialling a machine on site.
John Watson, national fuel manager (waste and biomass) for SSE, said: "The Bell machines have proved to be much better at working in our environment than any other machine on the market. There are few harsher conditions that a wheeled loader can operate in."
He added: "If you look at what is available in the market place at the moment, and if I had to replace the machines today, I would more than likely replace them with Bells."
As Bell ventures deeper into the waste and recycling market, it is finding that its loaders, which range from the L1204E up to the L2606E, are having an even more positive effect on customer operations and efficiencies than it ever imagined when it launched the new loaders.
Neville Paynter, managing director of Bell Equipment UK, said: "The machines are genuinely well-designed, robust and reliable, and from the outset we decided to offer the highest standard spec on the market.
"Yet it is the QuadCool system which has made the really big difference in the waste and recycling industry.
"It's fantastic to receive such positive endorsements from some of the biggest players in the sector."