EXCLUSIVE: A DEF delivery dilemma

TORONTO, Ont. — Canadian fleets that have been receiving diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) in bulk form, may have been receiving it illegally with little assurance they were getting the volume they were paying for.

Canadian Weights and Measures (W&M) regulations require fluids distributed by bulk and sold by volume to be measured using a Canadian W&M-approved meter.

“A retailer may legally sell DEF by meter or dispenser only if the device has been authorized by Measurement Canada to do so,” Lauren Hebert, media relations rep with Industry Canada confirmed to Trucknews.com.

Pre-packaged product falls under a different set of regulations and does not need to be delivered using a W&M-approved meter, Hebert pointed out. On July 6, Hebert told Trucknews.com Measurement Canada had only approved two meters to dispense bulk DEF.

Wakefield Canada, manufacturer and distributor of H2Blu diesel exhaust fluid, claims to own the first two meters approved by Measurement Canada.  

“We have been working for over a year to get something that would meet the criteria for Weights and Measures,” Don MacKinnon, national transportation service manager with Wakefield Canada told Trucknews.com. “We have a unique design and it’s proprietary.”

Until now, Wakefield has not been delivering DEF in bulk, but the company announced internally that it will begin making bulk deliveries in the Ontario region now that its first two meters have been approved by Measurement Canada. Other suppliers, however, have already been advertising the bulk delivery of DEF and since Wakefield was the first to gain Measurement Canada’s stamp of approval, that raises some questions.

“A lot of (DEF suppliers) are claiming to be able to deliver in bulk and some of them are delivering in bulk, but they don’t have the government-approved equipment to do so,” said Wakefield Canada’s Nikolette Gayk. “Wakefield Canada is the first and only company at this point to have a Weights and Measures-approved meter for delivering bulk DEF, so anybody who’s claiming to do so doesn’t have the approval.”

Measurement Canada requires the use of W&M-approved meters primarily for consumer protection. Each individual meter must be submitted to Measurement Canada for calibration and then periodically inspected. Hebert said “when a device is found to be in compliance with the requirements, a notice of approval is typically issued within 120 calendar days of receipt of the application and all appropriate documentation.”

Customers have good reason to ask their supplier whether it is using W&M-approved devices, Wakefield’s Gayk explained.

“If you’re not accurately measuring the DEF, something else is possibly getting in there,” she pointed out. “If a meter shows the supplier has pumped 1,000 litres but his meter and pump aren’t working properly, it could be that you’ve got 876 litres and the rest of it is air.”

That could go unnoticed if a fleet is using stainless steel tanks, Gayk pointed out. And if a distributor is not using a W&M-certified meter, disputes over volume are difficult to settle.

Similar requirements exist in the US, but Canada’s standards are more stringent.

“I know their tolerance is a little different than it is in Canada and that’s why we haven’t been able to bring pumps and meters up from the States,” Gayk said.

MacKinnon added “The Canadian government has put a closer tolerance on the requirements for meeting the standards than what is in Europe or the US and this is what has caused the hurdles for everyone that is attempting to be a DEF supplier.”

Now that Wakefield Canada has cleared that hurdle and developed a meter that has finally met with Weights and Measures’ approval (its first meter was rejected the first three times it was submitted for verification), the company has more units awaiting approval.

“I have three more meters set aside to get approved next week,” MacKinnon said. “Once they’re approved, they will be distributed to other regions of the country.”

Eventually, Wakefield Canada plans to have eight W&M-certified meters deployed on delivery vehicles across Canada.

It’s not clear how much demand there has been for the bulk delivery of DEF. An executive with a major fleet told Trucknews.com the company was ordering DEF in totes, so it could easily be stored in its shop.

“We don’t buy bulk, similar to most fleets in Canada because the infrastructure and requirement to heat is too expensive,” he said. “Totes are easy to store in a heated shop or wash bay.”

However, MacKinnon expects demand for bulk DEF to ramp up, and pointed out it can be delivered cost-effectively in bulk form to a fleet’s existing tote, provided it’s suitable.

Fleet customers that have placed bulk orders for DEF should ask their distributor to see the meter and look for an official Measurement Canada certification sticker (see picture). If the sticker isn’t there, MacKinnon warned there’s no way to ensure the DEF is being delivered in a proper manner and that customers are getting what they’ve paid for.

Industry Canada’s Hebert said a database of notices of approval is available on the Measurement Canada Web site.

For their part, Wakefield representatives say customers should be aware that not all equipment used to distribute DEF is appropriate, which could compromise the purity of the product.

“We’ve noticed some suppliers are using aluminum tankers with a meter that is approved for windshield washer fluid and delivering through a hose that’s approved for lubricant,” MacKinnon warned, noting aluminum and rubber can leech into the fluid and contaminate it.

The Measurement Canada verification sticker should not be confused with the black American Petroleum Institute label that appears on containers of API-certified DEF.

“The API approval is for the actual fluid itself and that approval does not carry over to the equipment that’s used with it,” said Gayk.

Fleets that have taken bulk deliveries of DEF may want to follow up with their supplier and ask for proof the meters used were W&M-certified, MacKinnon suggested.

“The sad reality is there is going to be a lot of people getting into this industry and then leaving this industry and the effect they will have on the market until it sorts itself out could impact the end-user,” he said. “We are trying to guarantee our customers that we will not allow them to be impacted by an inferior method of delivery.”

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  • You really wonder why we are in Canada as with all the rules and regulations . It seems there okay in the U.S with what they use for meters and in Europe but not here we have to have a few more hurdles to get past . Job creation for goverment .

  • I have very little faith in the DEF program. I was just wondering if anybody has bothered to take into account the amount of petroleum products used in the jugs for distribution and the cardboard boxes that are not being recycled and proceed to our landfills. Another blotch on the alreadt blotchy TRUCKING industry!!!

  • Comparing Canadian meters to the US, the consumer in the US is being cheated continually when the do not have tempature compensated fuel pumps. When you buy a product in any container if it be a liter bottle or a truck load we expect to get what we paid for.
    Complaining about government regulations, that alows one group to cheat anouther, that is a real stretch.

  • Ultraclear has been delivering bulk DEF for many months now. We too are concerned about suppliers providing non-API certified product and delivering using non-approved equipment.

    Our DEF trucks are equipped with a state of the art DEF approved pumping unit that is equipped with dual stage filtration, Micromatic fittings for filling and Weight and Measures approved meters

    For details and to hear more about our services please check us out at http://www.bulkexpress.ca or call us at 877-402-9581

  • Very interesting article.

    I note from one of the comments above that “Ultraclear has been delivering bulk DEF for many months now”. Based on the article how can that be?

    From the http://www.bulkexpress.ca web site, referenced in the same comment, they are not displaying a certified meter nor approval number. Are their meters “Weights and Measures” US approved or are they Measurement Canada certified?

    It would seem the DEF industry is currently not well regulated nor understood.