Hauler trauma

18 March 2008

Bell's B30D HP is an upgrade of the 30 ton (27.3 tonne) capacity B30D ADT.

Bell's B30D HP is an upgrade of the 30 ton (27.3 tonne) capacity B30D ADT.

Like most other construction equipment sectors the hauler market is currently witnessing a buoyant period on a global scale. Sales of articulated dump trucks (ADTs) and rigid haulers stood at 8660 units in 2006, up from 7864 machines in 2005. Total sales of ADTs were 6573 worldwide, while sales of rigid dump trucks stood at 2087.

Looking at regional variations the most popular markets for ADTs in 2006 were North America and Europe, with sales of 3960 and 2515 respectively. China bought just 68 units while Japan bought only 30. In 2006 sales of rigid dump trucks totalled 510 units in China and in Japan sales reached 190. Meanwhile in North America sales totalled 870 units followed by Europe with 517 units.

According to David Phillips, managing director for off-Highway Research, 2007 will see the market fall slightly to total sales of 8523. Mr Phillips said in 2007 sales of ADTs in China and Europe would fall to 20 and 2490 units respectively, while in North America and Japan volumes should increase, with sales of 3700 and 50 respectively. Sales of rigid haulers, said Mr Phillips, should rise across all regions in 2007. He said he expects to see sales in China and Japan reach 580 and 250 units respectively with the US and Europe taking 900 and 533 units respectively.

Growth markets

Speaking for Volvo Construction Equipment (Volvo CE) Jonas Th oursie said the global market for haulers has been very strong for some time. He attributed this to a variety of factors including the current climate for investing in infrastructure, a strong commodity market and increased work within the mining industry. Mr Th oursie said Volvo CE has seen the European and North American markets perform well but he said the latter is slowing down. He added Asia is the market that the company expects to grow the most in future.

Jamie Th omson, managing director of Moxy Engineering, said, “The ADT market has been booming for the last four years and it seems that this year will be at least as big as last year.”

Mr Th omson said despite the US market slowing down new developing countries such as Chile, Thailand, the Philippines, Ukraine and Russia are currently taking up the slack.

“Historically stable countries in Europe have remained very stable for us but the US will end this year about -30% down compared to last year's figures,” Mr Th omson added.

He said Russia has the potential to be as big a market for the company as the US market.

He added, “The ADT market seems to have polarised around the biggest and smallest models. We are seeing that bigger machines are getting increasingly involved in quarrying and the smaller ADTs tend to go in to rental fleets.”

Lead times

Hauler manufacturers are still hindered by the current problem of tyre shortages and customers are continuingly frustrated by long lead times.

Neville Paynter, managing director of Bell Equipment UK, said such shortages are continuing to affect ADT markets across the world.

“There is no doubt that this, and the knock-on effects of rising raw material costs, means that delivery lead times for some ADT manufacturers can also be adversely affected,” he said.

He added it is rather simplistic and occasionally misleading for manufacturers to blame their extended lead times on their supplier markets.

“The issue is not one of lead times per se, but rather the volatility of the market. Any organisation that considers itself to be world class should always be driving to reduce its lead times, whatever the market situation. By doing so, it will allow you to react much quicker to volatile markets. this is the philosophy we have used at Bell globally for many years. So, while we've seen huge growth in some markets and some declines in others, we have found that, by and large, our customers’ delivery demands have been met,” Mr Paynter said.

He added the increased global demand for ADTs has led certain industry suppliers to cap their production in case of a sudden downturn, which increases lead times.

He said Bell's manufacturing operation, which follows a demand flow technology approach, has a strong focus on involving suppliers extremely closely in its business, enabling Bell to plan and forecast with its suppliers to cope with often sharp market changes.

However, he said the global tyre shortage has hit all ADT manufactures and Bell has generally filled the shortfall with tyres sourced from China. He added the story is similar for steel, with Bell having to source raw material on a more global basis, depending on price and availability.

“Like any other manufacturer, sourcing the right specification of steel at the right price can be a challenge. We've seen close to a +30% increase in the price of raw steel since the middle of 2005,” Mr Paynter said.

Mr Th omson said certain key components are in short supply which is limiting the number of machines that can be produced. He said there has been a shortage of materials such as steel and up until recently engines and transmissions, but tyres remain the main concern. However, he added the situation this year has been easier than last year partly because of the slow down in the US market.

“Although it is getting easier we are making sure that our suppliers are aware of what we need. We carry a back up to deal with any surprises with the supply of tyres. It's been a challenge but smaller tyres are getting easier to source,” he said.

Mr Thoursie echoed these sentiments, “It's been a challenge for us but we are working very hard together with our suppliers to try to improve the situation. We have also had challenges in our industrial system to meet the demand but we have increased our production capacity quite a lot in the last two years.”

He added within the next year the company plans to invest in new production facilities for axle and transmission fabrication in Sweden.

Mr Paynter said Bell Equipment continues to find ways to reduce lead times wherever possible. For example, he said the company is shortly due to begin assembly of its 50 ton (45.5 tonne) B50D machine, the largest ADT in the world, at its European plant in

Eisenach, Germany.

“Up until now, all B50D production was carried out in the company's global manufacturing headquarters in Richard's Bay, South Africa. The move will result in even greater availability of this model in Europe and lead times are expected to be slashed by around six weeks,” he said.

Tyre manufacturers

In response to the shortages of tyres, the major manufacturers are building new factories and developing new tyre ranges. Michelin is investing in additional earthmover tyre manufacturing facilities around the world. A spokesman for the company said this includes the construction of a new factory in South America and an increase in existing production capacities in North America, with production expected to rise by a total of +40% by 2010. The first stage of this expansion will see Michelin open a new plant in Campo Grande, Brazil, before the end of 2007. this will be followed by further development of Michelin's existing production facility in Lexington, South Carolina, which will increase the production of large surface mining tyres by a further +50% by the end of 2008.

Helen Tattersall, head of earthmover and truck marketing at Michelin, said, “this investment highlights Michelin's commitment to the earthmover market and is expected to play a core role in easing the worldwide tyre shortage which has gripped the industry.”

Meanwhile, Bridgestone is to build a new tyre plant in Japan to produce large and ultra large radial tyres for mining and construction vehicles in response to growing global demand.

A spokesman for the company said, “Although Bridgestone has implemented initiatives to boost production capacity in response to this burgeoning demand, supply still falls shy of required levels.”

A spokesman for Goodyear said the shortage of tyres across the whole industry follows many years of stagnant demand where margins were squeezed and over capacity in the industry was cut back.

“Demand for raw materials caused a substantial increase in demand for quarrying and extraction machines, and big earthmoving tyres became much sought after. The other factor creating the shortage was the general global economy growth and now there are lead times and backorders of several months for vehicles,” the spokesman said.

He added in the longer term, Goodyear expects there to be an evening out of the supply and demand situation.

New models

Despite the problems faced by the industry, a plethora of new machines have entered the market during the past 12 months. Volvo CE's new E series ADTs from 26.4 tons (24 tonnes) to 42.9 tons (39 tonnes) feature suspension with automatic levelling and stability control on all wheels. The company claims the new models will be the world's first to offer this type of suspension system.

A spokesman for Volvo CE said, “this full suspension provides excellent off road performance, allowing the hauler to travel at much higher speeds and increasing productivity. Even when fully loaded, the E-series haulers’ ability to ‘float’ over rough ground without bouncing and rolling also improves operator comfort and safety.

The spokesman said all models feature Tier 3/Stage IIIA Volvo engines that offer high torque at low revs, maintain fuel efficiency and reduce noise levels.

Caterpillar introduced an ejector version of the 30 ton (27.3 tonne) capacity ADT at Bauma this year. The new 730 Ejector incorporates a load-ejection design and a Cat engine with ACERT technology, which complies with Tier 3 exhaust emission regulations.

A spokesman for Caterpillar said, “It is the second in the Caterpillar line to use a self-cleaning ejector mechanism that allows material to be spread and dumped on-the-go, without raising the body.”

Also at Bauma, Komatsu launched its 100 ton (91 tonne) capacity HD785-7 rigid dump truck. Fuel consumption has been optimised with a variable horsepower control (VHPC), which matches engine power to working conditions, and other improvements include an advanced retarder braking system and multi-disc, oil-cooled anti-lock brakes.

John Deere's 250D, 300D, 350D and 400D ADTs, manufactured by Bell, have been enhanced to increase productivity and uptime, including updates to the transmission, operator station improvements and electrical enhancements, a company spokesman said. New engines have been fitted in models 250D and 300D.

Chris Maifield, product marketing manager for John Deere Construction and Forestry Company said, “With a significant weight advantage and the best payload-to-weight ratio among the top five ADT manufacturers, Deere trucks continue to burn less fuel, particularly in high-time-on-grade applications and in poor underfoot conditions.”

The 300D and 400D ADTs are powered by a turbocharged and inter-cooled Mercedes Benz OM501LA, 12-litre V6 engine that has been updated to meet Tier 3 emissions standards. The 250D and 300D feature a Tier 3 certified John Deere 6090 Power Tec Plus I6 engine with 24 valve cylinder head.

The new 30 ton (27.3 tonnes) TA30 with independent front suspension from Terex minimises whole body vibration for the operator and is fitted with the latest Tier 3 engine technology providing high power and torque levels, a company spokesman said.

The independent suspension system will be standard on all Terex TA30 trucks from January 2008.


The recent surge of new models in the global haulers market has occurred on the back of a buoyant construction market and the need for cleaner, more powerful machines capable of delivering increased productivity. The problem of long waiting times continues to frustrate both hauler buyers and users, but this should be overcome as production capacities increase for both manufacturers and the tyre suppliers they rely on. Despite manufacturers pointing to a slow down in the US market demand is emerging and increasing from new and developing countries, which should help bolster global sales.


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Andy Brown Editor, Editorial, UK - Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 1892 786224 E-mail: [email protected]
Neil Gerrard Senior Editor, Editorial, UK - Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 7355 092 771 E-mail: [email protected]
Catrin Jones Deputy Editor, Editorial, UK – Wadhurst Tel: +44 (0) 791 2298 133 E-mail: [email protected]
Eleanor Shefford Brand Manager Tel: +44 (0) 1892 786 236 E-mail: [email protected]