Tier 4 is coming…Tier 4 is coming!  I feel like a cross between Paul Revere and Chicken Little. I keep preaching that Tier 4 engines are coming, and they will be a real game changer to all diesel powered equipment owners in the Caribbean.  But I’m not sure anyone is listening.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emissions requirements for diesel engines began what they call Tier 4 Interim a few years ago.  Tier 4 Final is out next year.  In order to meet these new emissions requirements, all engines will require Catalytic Converters, Soot Traps (usually a ceramic brick that captures carbon and has to periodically be cleaned off by burning the carbon at very high temperatures) and an additional process, in addition to being fully electronic.  In order to function properly, these engines require Ultra Low Sulphur fuel that is formulated to work with the new exhaust systems.   The exhaust systems for Tier 4 engines are supplied by the engine manufacturer with the new engine.

Tier 4 engines will simply not run on most diesel fuels that are standard in the Eastern Caribbean islands.  The new engine exhausts have sensors in them to detect whether the gases fall within the parameters set by the EPA.  If they do not, the engine will begin to de-rate its horsepower output in steps until it will only start and idle, but will not develop any power.  That is the way that engine manufacturers are going to protect themselves.

Why am I worried?  Most Caribbean islands are Lesser Regulated Countries (LRC) and do not need to comply with any EPA requirements, much less Tier 4.  The problem is that most Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) are located in countries that are EPA compliant.  When they build a piece of equipment, whether that equipment is a generator, back hoe loader, street sweeper or marine engine, they are building it for their biggest clientele base.  If that clientele base is in the US, Canada, UK or Europe, they will have an EPA compliant engine in it.  If that piece of equipment is purchased by someone in the Caribbean, it will not run for long.  What is more, there is no warranty offered on that engine by the manufacturer.

What can you do?  First, find out what the EPA rating of any engine in a diesel engine powered product is before you buy it.  If it is Tier 3, you will know that it is most likely fully electronic.  If it is Tier 4, you know that it will not run on anything but Ultra Low Sulphur fuel.  If it is Tier 3, find out if there is a dealer with the electronic tooling necessary nearby who can fix that engine.  If not, or if it is Tier 4, do not buy that product.

If you do inadvertently purchase a piece of equipment with a Tier 4 engine, some manufacturers are offering a program whereby the engine can be de-rated to a lower “Tier” so that the engine will run on lower grade fuels.  But the de-ration process is neither easy to obtain (as you might guess) nor inexpensive.  It is also not covered by warranty at present. 

So if you thought that the Tier 3 fully electronic engines were frightening, Tier 4 will be a full-fledged nightmare for some customers in the Caribbean.  Keep in mind that, if you are going to buy a Tier 3 engine, Perkins engines remain the best serviced engine in the Caribbean.  There is a dealer on nearly every island and they have access to the electronic tooling necessary.  If you, by some misfortune, end up with a Tier 4 engine in a Lesser Regulated Country without proper fuel, Perkins does have the deration program and it can be programmed to work on lesser grades of fuel.

So go with what you know.  Specify Perkins engines when you buy a new diesel powered product. 



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Parts & Power is the premier supplier of Marine and Industrial equipment and spare parts in the Caribbean.

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