BEL's workshop relaunched
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• In one of the largest automotive workshop moves ever to take place in the UK, Bus Engineering (BEL) — a London Regional Transport subsidiary — has amalgamated its two works at Chiswick, West London. Materials, plant and machinery have been moved from the Aldenham works and simultaneously the Chiswick plant has been revamped in a £6 million-plus programme. The amalgamated Chiswick works will be in full operation on November 17.
The combination of the two engineering works on one site has been carried out to suit BEL, for a commercial future.
The company has had to move both physically and psychologically to achieve a commercial future," comments Bill Fairhall, BEL managing director. Staff levels have been cut by 50% — the plannned Chiswick labour force will be around 1,000 and turnover £25 million. In an area where there is a chronic shortage of automotive engineering skills there is a huge potential demand for the abilities of the BEL Chiswick plant.
Paul Bertin has been appointed sales and marketing manager for the operation. We intend to move gradually into new areas of work using our existing skills," he comments. Initially this means that bus and coach operators outside LRT will be the first targets. "From only one customer (London Buses) in 1984, we have moved to 155 this year," says Bertin. "Of these around 100 are of a reasonable size and use our facilities regularly."
The company's existing products of reconditioned engines and other units will be marketed to NBC subsidiaries and other bus companies. New bus-related lines include a maintenance contract with LRT Abbey District for its Op tare mini buses.
BEL is now recognised as a VW and Optare service dealer, with the ability to carry out warranty work on both companies' products. The company also holds servicing contracts for Butec, DAF Diesel, Econocruise and Webasto products.
BEL also hopes to handle more commercial vehicle repair work. With its long ex
perience of bus engineering it is already used to handling and reconditioning many of the major units found in traditional trucks. On the eight hectare Chiswick site there is a 1,400m2 facility used exclusively for truck repair maintenance. At present the bulk of BEL's truck work is for the Ford, Leyland and Bedfords operated by the LRT distribution arm.