DIESEL EMISSIONS REGULATIONS AND HOW THEY AFFECT EQUIPMENT
In the year 2000, the Industrialized Countries of the World started enacting Diesel Engine Emission Regulations. In the US these were initiated by “Tiers”. In Europe and the UK, they were called “Stages”. Currently we are using Tier 4 Interim in North America. This is the strictest restriction to date and can only be met with After-treatment. At the moment, this includes a catalytic converter (like on your car), a soot trap and a “re-generation” device. Tier 4 Final, which is due in a couple of years, will require even more After-treatment products to achieve.
Unlike most Industries, where they make the equipment manufacturer responsible for what comes out the tailpipe, the Diesel Regulators have put that burden on the engine manufacturers. So, no matter what piece of equipment the engine is installed in (backhoe loader, generator, boat, lawnmower or whatever), the engine manufacturer is ultimately responsible for what comes out in the exhaust. In order to avoid millions of dollars in fines, diesel manufacturers are putting sensors throughout the exhaust system on Tier 4 engines. If the exhaust particles fall out of the accepted parameters, the engine starts to de-rate itself. First it is 10%. If the fault is not corrected, it continues to de-rate until the engine will only idle.
Although the current requirement is Tier 4 Interim, there are exceptions. For instance, currently, Marine Diesel engines and Diesel Standby engines are only required to meet Tier 3 levels. So, if you live in North America, or in a Caribbean country under US Jurisdiction (Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands), you need to have Tier 3 engines in new boats or on new generators, or risk being fined by the EPA.
If you live outside that area, you live in what is termed a Lesser Regulated Country (LRC). In an LRC, you can run a Tier 0 engine. These are not necessarily “dirtier” engines. They are the same engines that are rated Tier 3 or Tier 4, but just lack the sophisticated electronic programs or after-treatment required to achieve those higher ratings. So it is still the latest technology and far cleaner and quieter than the engines we were using 5-10 years ago.
The downside to the Tier 3 and Tier 4 engines is the level of complexity they present. First of all they are all electronic, even if they don’t have after-treatment. That means any significant troubleshooting and repair will require the use of a proprietary Electronic Tool supplied by the manufacturer. This Tooling can cost the dealer $7,000 or more per manufacture (and sometimes per model) to get certified. This is a huge investment for most dealers in small countries where the population of that particular engine may be only a few. So not many Caribbean dealers are able to invest in the Tooling. This means that it is less likely that you will be able to get your Electronic Engine serviced in your country.
The Tier 4 engines also have very precise requirements for the diesel fuel that it burns. This fuel is not available in many, if not most, LRC’s. So, if you end up with a piece of equipment purchased out of North America, the UK or Europe with a Tier 4 engine, there is a good chance that the engine will not run properly. Some manufacturers are developing ways to remove the sensors and lower the Tier rating of the engine from Tier 4 to something lower, but these changes will not come without a cost. If you don’t have a properly trained dealer in your Region, you may be required to fly a technician in from the US or UK. This will not be covered under warranty.
What can you do? First of all, find out what engine the piece of equipment you are buying has in it. If it is Tier 3 or 4, see if you can specify a Tier 0 engine instead. In the very likely case that they cannot do this, see if you have a dealer who represents the engine manufacturer close by. If there is one, see if they have the Electronic Tooling and certification needed to work on Tier 3 and Tier 4 engines. You will need him, and he will need the Tool, sometime in the not too distant future.
As a promotional note, Perkins is the best serviced engine in the Caribbean. There are dealers on nearly every major Caribbean island. As the cost to purchase Electronic Tooling is so high, our Perkins dealers share the Electronic Tool. This allows them to service Perkins engines without the major investment that may only be used once every year or two.
When it comes to purchasing diesel engine powered equipment, it pays to be an educated consumer. Often the last thing a buyer considers is the engine. They are more concerned with the functionality of the equipment. They may come to find out that the last thing they considered turns out to the most important.