The durability of Bell Equipment Wheeled Loaders in extremely dusty environments was the crucial factor in the decision by Westfield Plant & Management Services to purchase two machines for a demanding application at Immingham Dock, near Grimsby – the world’s largest wood pellet import facility.

Immingham is a major hub for inbound shipments of wood pellets for the biofuel industry and Westfield provides plant and management services to the port operators, specialising in mechanical ship trimming – the process whereby the pellets are removed from the hold.

Mechanical trimming involves the use of a wheeled loading shovel to move the product in the ship’s hold to a central position where the continuous ship unloader can remove the product. It requires great skill from the operator and an agile machine to successfully and efficiently undertake the task.

Wood pellets exhibit two undesirable handling attributes. Due to multiple handling some pellets degrade back to dust which can block the cooling system heat exchangers resulting in engine overheating. The dust is also highly flammable and must be prevented from settling in the engine compartment The implications of the loader overheating or catching fire extends far beyond the cost of damage to the machine, Darren Bemrose, Managing Director of Westfield Plant & Management Services, explains.

“Efficient unloading of wood pellets is crucial to maintaining the port’s schedule. Any delay means that a ship will miss tidal deadlines and incur additional high demurrage costs. An overheated conventional loading shovel takes 45 minutes to lift out of the hold in order to clean the heat exchangers and remove dust from the engine bay, then a further 45 minutes to put it back in. This has a significant impact on the productivity of the trimming operation so finding the right wheeled loader is critical.”

Darren, in his role as chair of the Port Skills and Safety Group Plant and Machine Working Group has taken substantial interest in finding a Wheeled Loader best suited to the demands of the trimming application, not only in business terms but as a matter of safety.

It was his extensive research that brought him to Bell Equipment. Bell Wheeled Loaders benefit from QuadCool, technology, unique to Bell Loaders in the UK market, which is proven to combat the risk of dust build-up, preventing the engine from overheating, reducing downtime and significantly reducing the frequency of cleaning routines.

The cooling airflow is designed in such a way that it avoids going over the engine. In some competitors’ machines, Darren has observed that flammable solids can drop out of the airflow and ignite upon contact with the engine.
According to Darren, the suitability of the Wheeled Loaders is the result of significant efforts by Bell Equipment to engage with the ports industry. “Bell has clearly done its homework and even has a dedicated brochure for ports application. As a result, they understand the issues facing our industry and our specific machine requirements.”

Westfield has purchased two Bell Wheeled Loaders, a L1706E and a L1506E. To enhance the performance of the Loaders, Westfield has invested in engine insulation by industry leaders Darchem to further minimise the risk of fire. As a final means of protection each machine is fitted with a bespoke two stage twin agent fire suppression system.

Since delivery, the Wheeled Loaders have performed exceptionally well, without any overheating or breakdown issues. Feedback from operators has been very positive.

“The Port Skills and Safety Group Plant & Machinery Working Group are actively seeking to work with the plant and machinery industry to further the safety and quality of the ports industry. Bell has engaged in supporting the group and is presenting to the PSSG meetings in Inverness and Harwich, sharing its substantial research and development knowledge for the greater good of the port operators and service providers,” confirms Darren Bemrose.   “I’ve been researching this for the past 12 years and the Bell Wheeled Loader is the best option in the market,” he concludes.