Bell Equipment has evolved from a global supplier to a global manufacturer with the 17 million Euro expansion of its Eisenach-Kindel assembly plant in Germany. The project, which attracted a grant from the state development agency, the LEG Thuringen, for its contribution towards the improvement of the regional economic structure, accommodates the fabrication of Articulated Dump Truck components for the Northern Hemisphere.
Bell Equipment Group Chief Executive Officer, Leon Goosen, officially opened the new production complex at the end of September and said the “momentous occasion” was a progression of the group’s sustainable growth strategy to bring the Bell Articulated Dump Truck range closer to its customer in the major global markets.
The strategy first gained traction in 2003 when Bell opened its ADT assembly plant in Eisenach-Kindel in response to growing activity in Europe. Leon explained that it was the “rich history in vehicle production, the location relative to infrastructure, along with investment support by the Ministry for Economic Affairs and the LEG Thüringen” that first attracted Bell to Germany’s Thüringen region in the early 2000s.
Continued strong demand from Europe and North America saw Bell expand its European Logistics Centre in Germany in 2017 and establish an American Logistics Centre the following year.
“This, our third project here, is a significant capital investment for the Bell Equipment Group and completing the project in just over 12 months is a tremendous achievement that demonstrates our commitment to grow as a global manufacturer,” continued Leon. “The investment is a direct response to the widespread acceptance and growth in demand of our Bell Articulated Dump Truck range. Trucks built in this factory are destined primarily for our Northern Hemisphere markets of Europe, the UK and a significant proportion of production is exported to North America and Canada.”
The new facility directly adjoins the existing factory halls, effectively tripling the available production and storage space, and providing in-house manufacturing of truck components in Europe for all seven Bell ADT models (B20E to B50E) that are assembled in Germany.
Leon explained that European production will “improve the group’s lead times providing greater flexibility and better response to dealers and customers. Efficiency in freight and working capital costs will also be achieved by eliminating the shipping of raw material from Europe to South Africa and them shipping the bulky components back to the Northern Hemisphere for consumption in those markets. More than 3 000 tons of steel will be consumed annually to satisfy the demand from those markets that are served from the plant.
In closing he said: “It takes teamwork to execute a project of this nature in the accelerated timeframe that it took, so I congratulate the Bell team for their dedication in planning and executing this project according to plan. We are also fortunate to have built lasting relationships with our partners over the years and I would like to extend my appreciation to them for making this a great success. This would not have been possible without the support of the local Ministry for Economy in Thüringen, the region of Eisenach-Kindel, LEG Thüringen, the Thüringen Aufbaubank and our building partner Goldbeck.
Minister of Economic Affairs for Thüringen, Wolfgang Tiefensee, thanked Bell Equipment for its deep and sustained commitment to the region. He emphasized the group’s significant economic importance as an export-oriented global player as well as acknowledged the special co-operation between Bell in South Africa and the Eisenach-Kindel plant, which is now firmly rooted in the local economy.
The inauguration ceremony, with the symbolic production start, was followed by a factory tour for all guests and project partners. Dignitaries in attendance included: Minister of Economics, Science and Digital Society for Thüringen, Wolfgang Tiefense; Mayor of Thüringen, Bernhard Bischof; Chairman of the Board of Management at LEG Thüringen, Andreas Krey; Manager of Goldbeck Thüringen, Andreas Kiermeier and Bell Equipment Group Chairman, Gary Bell.