Alasdair McNellan,general manager for Cummins Diesel of Canada , spoke to Truck News on the field performance of '02 engines, plans for the '07 engines and why another pre-buy is not a smart idea.The following is Part one of that interview.
ENGINE TALK: There's no good reason for a pre-buy if you're satisfied with the performance of your '02 engines, says McNellan.
Alasdair McNellan,general manager for Cummins Diesel of Canada , spoke to Truck News on the field performance of ’02 engines, plans for the ’07 engines and why another pre-buy is not a smart idea.The following is Part one of that interview.
TN: Truck sales on both sides of the border are gathering steam and are expected to continue growing the next two years. How are you keeping up with the demand? Are there specific plans to increase production?
McNellan: Cummins is experiencing strong demand for all of our new heavy-duty and mid-range engines from NAFTA truck and bus customers.We are working with our OEM partners to meet their needs.
Cummins heavy-duty engines are produced at the Jamestown plant, in New York, which has achieved major improvements in productivity this year thanks to a Six Sigma-based efficiencies program and the addition of new resources.
TN: What’s your read on the engines you currently have in the field? I’ve heard a lot of different figures from fleets and manufacturers on fuel efficiency loss. I realize that it’s dependent on application, but what are your findings in terms of fuel performance?
McNellan: Cummins has done a very good job in Canada the last year and a half securing new business. One of the reasons we are getting this business is because we have been honest about the degradation of fuel economy, which is anywhere from zero to five per cent. Have we seen better than that? Absolutely.
In fact some fleets have seen their fuel performance come pretty close to the previous non-EGR performance. We have also taken the initiative to get directly involved in any issues with the ’02 engines, and if needed, send technical support managers to figure out what’s going on with fuel economy. As best we can, we make sure the ECM is set correctly to each specific customer’s requirements, road speed is set at what the customer expected, gear down is set, tire revs etc. If these parameters, and others, are not set correctly, there’s no point in trying to figure out any fuel consumption issues.
TN: Is there anything that can be done to improve fuel efficiency as EGR technology evolves?
McNellan: There are a lot of things that can be done.
There are seven to eight items in the ECM, I mentioned previously, but also items such as a load-based speed control, gear-down protection, Smart torque etc., that are crucial to fuel economy.
We’ve worked very hard over the past two years to make sure that they are set right. In fact, we predict that by 2007 we should have the same fuel consumption as today’s EGR engines.
The other thing fleets can do is perhaps slow down. You often see trucks exceeding 70 mph. You can’t operate a flat nose truck, drive it at 74 mph and then complain about fuel consumption. Engine technology can only take you so far; you have to have the operational commitment in place.
Slow down, spec’ the truck and engine for the application, buy an aerodynamic truck, and don’t have all the gizmos hanging on it.
The other issue is that there are a lot of otherwise sophisticated fleets that could improve their fuel consumption monitoring.
TN: How about repair costs? You had a limited window to test the EGR engines. Based on the company’s own expectations, how are the engines holding up in the field so far?
McNellan: The numbers show that the ISX EGR ’02 engine was the best launch in history in terms of repairs per 100. I think, overall, customers are very happy with the reliability and performance even though you see articles claiming it’s going to take $15,000 to maintain ’02 and ’07 engines.
That’s not right – it’s fear mongering. What are those claims based on?
There is no added maintenance on an ’02 engine today. The oil changes are the same as for non-EGR engines. Oil drain intervals are the same – 25,000 miles with the opportunity to go 35,000 and higher depending on the oil used and the application, with close monitoring. Oil filter changes are no different; air filter changes are no different.