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LEADERS: Scott Perry, Ryder’s chief truck buyer, on what the GHG regs mean to you

Recently James Menzies, executive editor of Truck News and Truck West and equipment editor of Motortruck Fleet Executive, launched a new Maintenance Matters e-zine. It features articles, interviews and guest columns on topics important to fleet...

Scott Perry, Ryder System
Scott Perry, Ryder System

Recently James Menzies, executive editor of Truck News and Truck West and equipment editor of Motortruck Fleet Executive, launched a new Maintenance Matters e-zine. It features articles, interviews and guest columns on topics important to fleet maintenance managers.

The complete first edition can be downloaded from the Documents section at the side of this page or you can subscribe to receive it by e-mail free of charge here.

In the meantime, here’s a portion of an interview that appeared in the first edition with Scott Perry, vice-president of supply management with Ryder System. He talks about the reliability of new engines, why more fleets are considering full-service leasing, and why your DEF consumption rates could be about to surge…

TN: We’ve been hearing so much lately about downtime and the heavy toll this is taking on fleets. Most of it seems to be related to the emissions systems on newer vehicles. What can a fleet do to minimize the downtime related to new engine technologies such as SCR, DPFs, etc.?

Perry: Each generation of the technology has its own nuances. I think that the overwhelming approach that would be most beneficial to fleets is training. Training applies to both their drivers and the technicians who will be supporting the equipment.

Systems have become much more sophisticated than they were 10-15 years ago, with multiple different computer-monitored elements – whether its chassis control modules or engine control modules or emissions control modules – which all have to interact with each other and be in pretty good harmony for the vehicle to operate and be in full compliance.

Having technicians that understand all that technology and are able to interact with it and drivers who understand and can respond to the warning devices and malfunction indicator lights is extremely important.

Drivers can’t just jump in the truck and drive and not pay attention to what the truck is telling them and technicians can no longer just trade parts and hope it’s going to resolve a system. Through multiplexing and integration of all those various systems, (technicians) absolutely have to follow diagnostic trees associated with the maintenance systems on-board.

TN: Specifically as it relates to diesel particulate filters, we’ve heard about cracking of the cores and often this isn’t discovered until they’re no longer covered under warranty. Any advice for fleets on how to avoid this problem?

Perry: I think that there are a couple of different failure modes a fleet may experience. The most simple is, when the filter is removed from the DPF housing and handled for cleaning, they are fragile, you can’t drop them. They’re definitely susceptible to cracking.

But more specifically, cracking of the filter while it’s in use within the system, most of that occurs when you have face plating of the DPF with hydrocarbons coming from upstream. That can be oil or fuel that’s coming from the engine upstream, and the advice I would give is, when you have an engine that’s consuming coolant and you don’t know where the coolant is going, you need to always think downstream.

When you have en engine that’s consuming oil and no evidence where that oil is accumulating, you need to assume it’s downstream – and downstream is in the DPF and the catalyst system.

The coolant could be poisoning the catalyst and the oil and other hydrocarbons could be contaminating the DPF and when enough of that accumulates on the face of the DPF, when you get into those high-temperature regeneration cycles, that can result in an uncontrolled burn and an uncontrolled burn of those hydrocarbons translates into temperatures that are beyond the engineering design of the DPF and can absolutely result in that cracking that some of the fleets have experienced.

TN: With the complexity of the new engines and their emissions systems, has Ryder seen more interest in full-service leasing programs?

Perry: We’re definitely seeing more of that now. In the early years with the technology, much of the systems were covered under the standard warranty, so you’d take it to the local dealer and you were not as impacted by the operating expense. You might have the nuisance of downtime but most of them looked at it as, it’s under warranty, so it wasn’t a big deal.

Once you get beyond those original warranty terms and start trying to support that vehicle through your own maintenance network, if you haven’t invested in the tooling, training and diagnostic systems to be able to interact with those assets, you absolutely will find yourself in a position where you’re no longer capable of efficiently operating your business.

If your core business is manufacturing a product, you don’t want to be devoting a lot of resources to your maintenance capabilities; that’s not core to your business.

We have seen fleets come to us who no longer want to invest in their maintenance capabilities, who don’t want to upgrade their facilities for tooling, who don’t have resources to invest in the training of their technicians, and let’s face it, technicians are getting harder to find. All of that is really building to a perfect storm and we’re seeing our value proposition becoming more valued within the industry because we are making those investments in training and tooling and capabilities.

TN: What are the implications of the impending GHG regulations for end users and maintenance managers?

Perry: The fleet operator really needs to understand what’s been done to the vehicle to meet that certification for 2014 GHG. What we’re seeing is a number of those thresholds have been met just by calibrations in fuel systems and under-the-hood modifications that drivers and fleet operators really don’t have to worry about too much.

Aerodynamics of the cab are built into the design, but if you start modifying or remove air fairings and side skirts, then that can become an issue. If you leave the cab intact and repair any damage that can occur, then you’re in pretty good shape.

When you start looking further down at the 2017, 2018 model year, I think we’ll see a much greater push towards external components that drive the fuel economy that will be required to meet the standard, such as low rolling resistance tires.

Absolutely if those components are part of the certification to meet the standard, we will have to replace like for like. Some OEs are even contemplating going to much lower viscosity engine oils as a standard component, which means if you replace engine oil and instead of using a standard 15W-40 product that many fleets run today, if a truck was originally built and certified with 10W-30 viscosity oil, then you need to replace it with a 10W-30 viscosity.

Now, it’s very difficult for EPA to do roadside inspections on engine oil viscosity, but I think it’s going to bring into question how the fleet operates, what their maintenance practices are and how they can maintain those vehicles in the greatest compliance and also generate a lot of the benefits that are coming from the standards, because the only way to address carbon emissions and GHG is from fuel economy. So, in order go get greatest possible fuel economy that translates into an economic benefit, you need to maintain those systems in optimal performance and try to mirror that original spec’ as much as possible.

TN: What else can fleets operators and maintenance managers expect to see as the GHG regs are implemented?

Perry: One thing that will impact end users from an operational standpoint, that I don’t think many fleets have thought of yet, is DEF consumption may in
crease 50-75% compared to the original baseline (in 2010), in order to help with some of the compliance measures for 2014 and 2017. DEF consumption will absolutely go up as part of this technological shift. Those organizations that have invested in bulk DEF storage may find they don’t have large enough storage capacity to support the demands of their fleets going forward. I don’t think that’s something fleets have fathomed yet, but we definitely see that DEF consumption will increase, the size of DEF storage tanks on-board the vehicle may have to increase, which means we may lose some more of that frame rail real estate, and may mean we’re carrying a little more weight on-board for DEF storage, and the bulk storage systems will have to be more robust.

TN: Why are you expecting DEF consumption rates to increase?

Perry: Part of those calibrations being done to fuel maps translate into a lower production of particulate matter, and when you take PM down in-cylinder, you actually operate the engine more efficiently from a combustion standpoint, but it’s very inefficient from a NOx standpoint.

So, you’re generating much more NOx but generating a lot less PM, and it’s a more complete combustion cycle for the fuel and a more complete use of the energy content of that fuel, but because you’re using more NOx, you have to dose with a higher percentage of DEF to counteract that NOx production.

TN: Will this be seen in the earlier stages of the GHG regs, with the 2014 model year trucks or will it be more noticeable in the latter years, closer to 2018?

Perry: I think it will be a gradual stair-step from 2014 to 2017, but we’ll see bit of an incremental increase in the DEF consumption in 2014 and I think it will be much more pronounced in 2017.

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1 Comment » for LEADERS: Scott Perry, Ryder’s chief truck buyer, on what the GHG regs mean to you
  1. Ralph says:

    Smart guy. Agree with everything he said. The fleet that does their homework the best on training and maintenance or off-loads the responsibility to someone else will win.

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