Mon August 29, 2022
It was during the 2008 Great Recession that the Brent crude oil price last reached the lofty high experienced this year, and with demand to continue to outstrip supply the switch to less thirsty heavy equipment is in the spotlight more than ever before.
Apart from the cost of fuel there also are environmental factors and responsibilities that need to be considered. Burning less fuel reduces the carbon footprint and the carbon load on the planet. Bell Equipment Product Manager Brad Castle weighed in on the factors responsible for the fuel efficiency of the Bell E-series range of articulated dump trucks (ADTs).
"We've always been driven by a ‘lowest cost per tonne' design philosophy and to achieve this fuel economy has always been a strong focus area since fuel burn can comprise as much as 40 percent of a machine's daily operating costs," Castle said.
"With Bell ADTs in North America averaging about 2,000 hours per year, an increase in fuel can have a considerable impact on a company's bottom line, as can any fuel economy savings.
"Fuel efficiency is directly impacted by the unladen or tare weight of the vehicle and the efficiency of the components used in the drivetrain; it's a straight line calculation and Bell undoubtedly has the best power-to-weight ratios.
"We make every effort to ensure that our Bell ADTs are designed with no unnecessary excess weight by using high-strength, lightweight materials that provide a great balance between vehicle weight, strength and durability."
Correctly matching components for each class of truck in the extensive Bell ADT range further provides weight reductions, the company said.
"As a global ADT specialist, Bell took the decision early on to utilize world class driveline component manufacturers that are best suited for offroad haulage applications and conditions. Mercedes Benz is the acclaimed industry leader in providing lightweight, powerful, reliable and fuel-efficient engine packages while Allison transmissions with FuelSense software optimize gear shift patterns for improved climbing ability, acceleration and better fuel consumption.
"Under the hood, all Bell small and large trucks have Allison FuelSense 2.0 transmission calibrations with equation-based shifting," said Castle. "The calibrations optimize fuel consumption and truck performance by varying the shift points to match the haul profile with higher shift points on steeper gradients and lower shift points on flatter terrain. This means that the truck often shifts at a lower rpm for better efficiency while providing an improved experience for operators."
Engine power and fuel consumption have been optimized on the E-series trucks through proprietary software that determines the best possible timing for retardation, cooling and charging of accumulators. An electronically controlled direct-drive engine fan provides fuel efficient cooling compared to the hydrostatic cooling found on competitor trucks. This becomes an important feature particularly in warmer climates where hydrostatic cooling uses more fuel and causes a power drain to try and cool the oil.
While Bell designers tackle fuel burn directly during the design phase of an ADT by minimizing dead weight, optimizing the efficiency of the drivetrain and hydraulic system, increasing levels of automation and adopting regenerative brake charging, the way customers use their trucks also impacts fuel consumption.
A customer in the United Kingdom hired two Bell B30Es to haul and stockpile topsoil on a housing project. He noted that the Bell ADTs were, by far, the most fuel efficient, with each B30E consuming 60 to 70 litres less diesel per day than other vehicles.
"Performance and operator comfort are givens for all machinery brands. Where the Bell Dumpers excel is the fuel efficiency, which is a real bonus," he said.
Another UK customer, this time in the quarry industry, runs a fleet of 14 Bell ADTs and has noticed a ‘real difference' in productivity and fuel efficiency since investing in the brand.
"We can see from the machine telematics that this equates to a huge 17 percent saving on fuel consumption," he said. "To put that into context, it means we can run a whole shift without refuelling. That saves us — and our clients — time, inconvenience and money."
The Bell [email protected] telematics solution is provided standard across the range and provides detailed production information, including per cycle fuel consumption and payload data through its on-board weighing system.
"Interpreting the data gives a quick glimpse of bottlenecks by highlighting all unladen and laden idling times. It laden idle times are more than 5 percent this is indicative of congesting at the tipping area or mismatched equipment," Castle said.
"Should unladen idle times be more than 5 percent, this could mean that there is congestion in the loading area, there are too many trucks in the cycle, or the loading tool is too small. Either way it means that there are inefficiencies, and fuel is being wasted. At the same time, [email protected] highlights unfavorable operating practices such as speeding and harsh braking that uneconomical. It really is a phenomenal tool.
"While there is no silver bullet for good fuel consumption, over the decades of development and testing, Bell has found that the holistic approach of doing a lot of small things to add up to one great approach works best for the company and its customers. This is the Bell approach, and the results consistently speak for themselves in the various competitor demos that we engage in."
For more information, visit www.bellequipment.com.