In a TMC panel discussion on aftertreatment systems, OEM representatives offered a few tips on how to reduce aftertreatment-related repairs and downtime. I’ll have much more detail in an upcoming article on this topic but here are a few quick take-aways from Kevin Otto of Cummins and Vic Meloche of Daimler:
Don’t ignore malfunction indicator lights: “In the past, you may have been able to get away with this, but not today,” Otto warned. He said to attend to engine lights as soon as they appear.
Get the latest software updates: The OEMs are continuously updating the calibrations and software for their engines to address issues that have come up and to enhance performance. Get the updates installed as soon as they’re available.
Use certified DEF: There is still sub-par diesel exhaust fluid out there and it can lead to emissions system failures if it’s not on spec’.
Try to facilitate effect DPF re-gens: Some duty cycles are just not conducive to proper DPF regenerations. A re-gen requires high heat and so lightly-loaded or high-idle duty cycles are not necessarily ideal. Try to get the truck out into heavily-loaded highway driving applications to facilitate proper re-gens if possible. I know – easier said than done.
Make sure DPF is properly cleaned: There was some discussion as to which of the available cleaning methods is most effective. It really doesn’t matter, said Meloche, as long as the filters is fully cleaned of ash. If it’s not, the leftover ash will compete with soot for space within the filter, the cleaning interval will be shortened and the filter could be damaged.
Avoid winter front grille covers: Cummins’ Otto said winter front grille covers can confuse the aftertreatment system, leading to issues. It’s better to have a properly functioning cooling system than to use winter fronts, he suggested.
Here’s an interesting note that came out of the discussion. In 2016, trucks will require soot detection sensors to measure the soot that’s leaving the smokestack. This should help detect faulty emissions systems and clogged DPFs sooner than in the past, hopefully allowing fleets to service them before damage is incurred.
James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 18 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies. All posts by James Menzies