Bell on the move with JCB, haulage tractors

Bell Equipment has updated their haulage tractors, withdrawn from the John Deere dealership and acquired the JCB dealership.

After four years of development and testing the new Bell Series V Haulage Tractor has rolled off the production line.

“This latest version of an old stalwart is our best ever,” commented Bell’s Product Marketing Manager for Forestry and Sugar, Ettienne Terblanche.

The Bell haulage tractors have been around for 45 years. The designers have acted on customer feedback to build on the original by updating the drivetrain to deliver best performance and productivity benefits, and ultimately lowest cost per tonne.  

The new series comprises four models, the 1406A, 1406AF, 1736A and 1736A, all designated according to engine power and whether the machine is a 2WD (A) or 4WD (AF) configuration. Together they provide solutions for a wide range of operating requirements.

“Across the range we’ve reintroduced the well proven John Deere 6,8l engine, to deliver more grunt than our outgoing series. Farmers love the John Deere engine and we’re confident that this latest turbocharged, common rail diesel powerplant and a superior cooling package will meet and exceed customer expectations. Feedback we’ve received on our prototype units that have operated in South Africa and several neighbouring countries all indicate that the fuel economy of our Series V Tractor is the most economical in its class,” said Ettienne.

The engine is available in two power ranges,140HP (104kW) and 173HP (129kW) and achieves the Tier 3 emissions certification without the need for a complex exhaust gas recirculation system.

“The engine and transmission work so well together,” says Ettienne. “The transmission is electronically controlled and features the latest hardware and software to deliver exceptional comfort and fuel efficiency. The minimal torque interruption in the transmission allows the tractor to pull away smoothly and without loss of inertia through the gears even when towing a full ‘cane train’. In addition, we have introduced Bell Traction Control as a standard feature on the 4x4 configuration. These tractors normally run in 4x2 but when the system identifies wheelspin in poor underfoot conditions it automatically switches to 4x4. The operator can also manually select 4x4 on the dashboard.

“We’ve upgraded the braking system to increase stopping power by about 15% over the previous series,” explains Ettienne.

The cab has been redesigned with increased space for the trainer seat, a comfortable flat floor and a standard HVAC system. The internal panels are custom moulded with ABS thermoplastic to enhance the luxurious feel of the cab. For improved reliability, standalone switches have been incorporated into a single, sealed switch module (SSM), which includes transmission control on the 1736A and AF.

“The fabricated steel chassis, heavy duty rear axle and hitch positioning ahead of the axle centre line - for improved steering and traction when trailers are fully loaded - have all been retained along with key safety features, such as the ROPS/FOPS certified cab and pneumatic trailer braking,” continues Ettienne.

The bonnet opens upwards to 70 degrees to provide excellent access for servicing, maintenance and daily checks. 
 
“The Bell Haulage Tractor has been around for 45 years and has been trusted by thousands of owners to carry out the toughest haulage work. With our Series V we have been inspired by what our customers want, and we are proud to carry on this proud pedigree while offering our customers improvements over our previous generations,” he concludes.

JCB dealership
Meanwhile Bell Equipment has been appointed as a JCB dealer in South Africa, and no longer represents John Deere.

JCB provides Bell with diversity and strength in the local market, according to Bell Equipment Marketing and Alliance Partner Manager, Stephen McNeill.

“JCB is a strong, well respected brand in South Africa. They have been selling machines into the market for over 40 years and have an extremely high machine population in the country. JCB and Bell share many similarities and values, and our partnership has clear benefits for both companies. In terms of our own benefits, we see potential for increasing machine sales volumes in some of our key product lines.

“Due to challenges in the market, we are seeing a gradual move away from premium European built machines and JCB provides us with solutions to satisfy both requirements, as well as opportunities to ‘compare and share’ in different areas such as dealer management.”

Bell is selling a wide range of JCB products including backhoe loaders, wheel loaders, excavators and rollers.

JCB also provides Bell with an opportunity to sell telescopic handlers and skid steer loaders for the first time.

While Bell is no longer a dealer for John Deere forestry equipment and will soon handover distribution rights for Bomag machines, Bell will continue its partnerships with Japanese excavator manufacturer, Kobelco, and mobile crushing and screening specialist, Finlay.

McNeill explains: “It has been agreed by all parties that the JCB and Kobelco Excavators will be sold alongside one another in the South African market. The larger Kobelco excavators are important to our ADT business as they give us ideally matched machines for our large ADTs in mining and quarrying applications, and they’ve been well accepted in the forestry and construction industries. We believe that there is a place for both ranges; it enables us to offer the widest range on the market and give our customers the best choice.”

Commenting on the implementation of the JCB arrangement, he concludes: “Our goal was to make the move to the JCB product line as smooth and seamless as possible for customers. Although the introduction has had its teething issues, I believe this has largely been achieved. A great deal of resources and effort has gone into ensuring adequate parts inventory and machine stock holding as well as making sure our sales and support staff are full trained and versed to handle the new product range.”

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