Fast-moving hauler market
By Helen Wright03 October 2012
There has been a lot of activity in the hauler market this year, spurred by on-going demand for raw materials as well as the need to produce new machines that adhere to increasingly strict engine emission laws in North America, Europe and Japan.
Overall sales of articulated dump trucks (ADTs), rigid haulers and scrapers are forecast to increase around the world this year, despite weak economic conditions holding construction back in some markets.
The 2011 US Tier 4 Interim and EU Stage IIIB emissions laws for off-highway diesel engines have affected all types of hauler up to about 100 tonnes capacity. Larger engines than 560 kW are exempt from the regulations, but this mainly applies to mining trucks.
As far as haulers for the construction industry are concerned, all models are affected by the current laws and manufacturers will also have to adhere to the stricter US Tier 4 Final and EU Stage IV laws that come into force in 2014.
Lots of new machines have been launched in response to these new laws, with sophisticated new diesel engines and a host of other technology on-board. Most of the new launches have come in the ADT market, where the main buyers are in North America and Western Europe.
The sector is changing, with strong competition building between both new and established manufacturers, all of which are launching new machines at the same time. Indeed, South Africa-based manufacturer Bell and US-based John Deere have both launched new, separate ranges of ADTs, both of which are known as the 'E-Series'.
As if this wasn't complicated enough, one of the most significant shake-ups this year has been between Bell and John Deere, which has been a majority shareholder in Bell since 1999 with a 31.5% stake.
Until recently, the two companies had been involved in a product agreement that saw John Deere manufacture, assemble and distribute Bell ADTs for sale in the North American market.
However, John Deere has started producing its own range of ADTs - it used ConExpo in March 2011 to launch the 46 tonne 46E model, built using its own components and powered by a 13.5 litre John Deere engine. This of course means the relationship with Bell is unlikely to continue, and an announcement to the effect that John Deere's shareholding in Bell was under review was made in September last year.
Final discussions were still underway as iC went to press, but Bell Equipment chief executive Gary Bell said that the licensing agreement between the two manufacturers has now been changed, leaving John Deere free to sell its ADTs throughout the world, and Bell free to set up a dealer network to continue to distribute its trucks in North America.
"John Deere started development of their ADT two or three years ago, and we were fully aware of their plans," Mr Bell said.
"We had an agreement in place which governed the joint development and marketing of these machines, and that agreement has now changed. There is a new agreement in place which changes the 10-year relationship in terms of ADTs going forwards. John Deere will no longer sell the Bell product in the Americas with their own product now available.
"This means Bell will look to introduce its products into the Americas through dealerships," Mr Bell said. "We've already identified a number of dealers that currently don't have haulers in their line-up, and the product will be supplied from our factory in Germany from the beginning of next year. The North American market is substantial - about 50% of the global market, so from that point of view it's a huge opportunity for Bell and we intend to make an impact there."
Meanwhile, John Deere ADT product marketing manager Mark Oliver confirmed that the company remained a shareholder in Bell and said and Bell was still John Deere Deere's construction and forestry distributor in South Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
"The parties have agreed to terminate their ADT manufacturing agreement and will transition to separate distribution of their respective E Series ADTs over the next few years," Mr Oliver said, adding that John Deere still owns 31.6% of Bell and the change in the ADT relationship did not affect this.
Mr Bell said his company understood why John Deere had come to the market with its own product. "They want to or need to use their enterprise components. The Bell ADT uses a Mercedes engine for a very good reason, and John Deere has instead incorporated a lot of its enterprise components into its truck," Mr Bell said.
Indeed, the engine in John Deere's new ADT uses entirely different after-treatment systems than Bell's latest models to comply with the current US Tier 4 Interim and EU Stage IIIB emissions legislation. John Deere reduces diesel exhaust emissions using exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) technology and a diesel particulate filter (DPF), while Bell added selective catalytic reduction (SCR) technology to its Mercedes engines to comply with the laws.
SCR involves treating exhaust gases with a urea resin to convert harmful NOx into inert nitrogen and water. This requires an on-board urea tank to be accommodated in the machine, and also relies on the availability of the urea agent in the country that the machine is being operated.
EGR reduces emissions by cooling and pumping a proportion of the exhaust gas back into the engine's cylinders to reduce combustion temperatures. This cuts NOx but leads to more particulates which are removed from the exhaust stream by the DPF. Again, this adds bulk to the engine system.
Mr Bell said the company was very pleased with its decision to use SCR technology. "It's gone remarkably well," he said.
"We were rather apprehensive when we made the decision about four years to go down this route. We were worried that the urea fluid [marketed as Diesel Exhaust Fluid in North America and as AdBlue in Europe] wouldn't be available, and about how it would be managed on site, but it's been absolutely no problem and we've had no push back at all from customers. The on-highway truck industry led the way and it's gone very smoothly really."
Mr Bell highlighted another potential advantage of the SCR method further down the line - he said these engines were much easier to convert for second-hand use in less developed markets, where the urea solution is not readily available.
"The Mercedes engine is a huge advantage in terms of resale value. The engine is essentially identical to a Tier 2 engine, so the SCR system can be disabled without anything from the engine itself being physically removed."
Mr Bell also said that the manufacturer - which showcased its new E-Series at this year's Intermat show in France - was developing a 60 tonne model.
"The concept still has some way to go, there's a lot of testing to do, but we hope to bring a 60 tonne model to market in the coming years," he said, adding that visitors to next year's Bauma 2013 show in Munich, Germany - by far the largest trade show in the world, taking place from 15 to 21 April - could look forward to seeing more E-Series upgrades.
Bell's E-series boasts a wider hood and a "more imposing styling" according to the manufacturer, which is keeping the fine details of the machines under wraps for now. It is planned to go into production in 2013. On Show at Intermat was a prototype B30E, a 30 tonne model.
John Deere's Mr Oliver was also optimistic for the prospects for the ADT market, and his company's rival E-Series machines. "The general ADT market has been recovering worldwide and we believe that John Deere is in a good position to grow its ADT share with the launch of the new E-Series models," he said.
Meanwhile, Liebherr is a relatively new entrant to the segment after exhibiting its first model, the 30 tonne TA 230, at the 2010 Bauma trade fair. The manufacturer also gave a strong hint that more ADT news was to be expected at next year's Bauma.
Liebherr's ADT range will cover 30 to 50 tonnes, and the manufacturer said when it first introduced the TA 230 that it would be joined "soon" by a model in the 40 tonne class.
Meanwhile, a more long-standing member of the ADT market is Doosan, which this year celebrated the 40th anniversary of the permanent six-wheel drive system on its ADT range.
To mark the event, the company held a birthday celebration at the Doosan ADT plant at Elnesvagen in Norway, attended by over 50 dealers and customers from Germany, Italy, USA, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Norway and Russia.
The manufacturer's ADTs are designed with a forward-mounted turning ring, sloping rear frame and free swinging tandem bogie - a concept that allows weight to be distributed equally throughout the machine, providing excellent stability.
The rear tandem bogie ensures all six wheels are in continuous contact with the ground for more stability and safety. The permanent six-wheel drive means that Doosan trucks can operate on very rough and soft terrain on construction sites such as road projects and mass excavation hauling as well as in mining and quarrying applications.
Doosan's latest models are the Tier 4 Interim-compliant DA range, currently consisting of the 276 kW, 30 tonne capacity DA30 and 368 kW, 40 tonne capacity DA40, which it launched a year ago.
Doosan acquired the ADT range when it bought specialist manufacturer Moxy in 2008, however it is marketing its latest trucks under just the Doosan brand, rather than the previous Doosan-Moxy marque.
The long-standing Moxy brand is also being dropped from the factory name too, as the factory will in future be called Doosan Infracore Norway AS rather than Doosan Moxy AS.
The will be no change to the factory or production, said Doosan, and the ownership will remain the same. It said the name change not only illustrated Doosan's intentions to integrate further the facility into the Doosan group, but that it also reinforced Doosan's presence in the ADT market.
Rival Volvo, meanwhile, is another long-standing name in the ADT market and claims to have developed the articulated hauler concept in the 1960s. It is highlighting the technology available for its latest range of ADTs - the Tier 4 Interim and Stage IIIB-compliant F-Series - to try to stand out from the competition.
Indeed, the on-board weighing system (OBW) it developed for the F-Series won the Intermat 2012 innovation award.
Available as an option on the F-Series range (from the 24 tonne A25F up to the 39 tonne A40F), the system automatically monitors the input of weight on the machine from suspension pressure sensors, and relays this information to load software integrated into the machine's electronics.
The OBW also logs all transported loads, and the ensuing data is then shown on the operator's display. The information can be accessed remotely, thanks to Volvo's advanced CareTrack telematics system, to allow complete payload management with access to data such as total transported load, tonnes transported per litre of fuel, and number of cycles.
OBW-equipped haulers are fitted with a load indicator light mounted outside the machine so as to be visible to the operator of the wheel loader or excavator that is loading the hauler. A yellow light comes on when at part load, which changes to a green light at nominal load, finally turning red when overloaded.
Komatsu's latest Stage IIIB/Tier 4 Interim ADTs the HM300-3 and the HM400-3 also offer new payload weighing technology as an option. The technology uses sensors on the hydro-pneumatic suspension system on the front and rear axles to offer on-the-spot data on the monitor panel.
This data can also be transferred through KOMTRAX, Komatsu's wireless monitoring system, allowing the ADT's efficiency to be monitored.
Along with Komatsu's new engine emission technology, the new machines also feature completely redesigned traction control systems and automatic retarders. The K-TCS traction system automatically provides optimum traction on any type of ground.
As ground conditions worsen and tire slippage is detected by speed sensors located on four wheels, automatic application of the inter-axle differential lock occurs. If tire slippage continues to be detected then four independent brakes automatically apply to the wheels that are slipping to regain traction and reduce tyre wear.
Increased automation is also a key feature of Terex's new ADT rage - generation 9, which spans the 25 tonne to 42 tonne payload range. The TA400 is the latest new model in the range, boasting a 331 kW Tier 4 Interim Scania DC14 engine and a maximum payload of 42 tonnes.
The TA400 is equipped with dual retarder systems - a transmission retarder and exhaust brake - giving operators increased control in loaded, downhill hauls.
The hauler is equipped with oil-cooled, wet disc brakes on all six wheels that is said to provide extended brake component life for reduced service intervals and operating costs and improved overall braking performance. In fact, Terex claims the new TA400 does not induce break wear when retarding. Permanent all-wheel-drive (6x6) is also present on the TA400, while a full suspension system allows operators to travel faster and more comfortably on difficult terrain.
These new machines and upgraded technology demonstrate how quickly the ADT market is moving to better meet customer needs and to accommodate regulatory demands in North America and Europe.
Looking ahead, Bell Equipment CEO Mr Bell predicted that more new players would compete for a space on the market. "There are clearly going to be a number of new players in the next few years too - there are other full-line suppliers with gaps in terms of ADTs so there will be some new players coming," he forecast.