New electronic diesel engines – The good news and the bad news…
Emissions regulations mandated by the US and EU forced all engine manufacturers to go to fully electronic Governing, Regulating and Monitoring of modern Diesel Engines starting in the 90’s.
These electronics are exposed to some of the worst conditions that Mother Earth can conjure up: Salt Water near the sea or on boats, Corrosive Chemical Environments in factories, Abrasive dust and grit in quarries or mines, the broiling heat of the deserts and the sub zero temperatures near the polar regions. Yet they are remarkably reliable.
Indeed, in the demanding environment of the Caribbean where warm salt breezes, if not direct salt water spray, pummel Perkins Diesel Engines day in and day out, they hold up remarkably well. As the Appointed Perkins Distributor for the Eastern Caribbean, we are obligated have the Electronic Service Tool (EST) and trained staff to troubleshoot and repair these engines. Yet we seldom use the EST more than a few times per year. There have been some years when we never used it at all.
That said, the increasing demands dictated by Tier 3 and Tier 4 are requiring that we use EST for even the most routine servicing. This is good and bad for the diesel engine owner. With EST we can diagnose problems and come up with solutions faster, in some cases, than the old troubleshooting techniques we used to use. It does not require as much experience from the Diesel Engineer as it did in the past. But it does require that the Diesel Engine owner hire someone with EST to do more and more maintenance and repairs. With the Thousands of Dollars of investment into the EST and Training comes a price.
Advice to Owners
What can the owner or purchaser of a Diesel Engine equipped vessel or machine do? For the owner who has an older mechanically controlled diesel engine, you should have an engine that can be kept running for decades to come, if properly maintained. The great news about Perkins Engines is not only that the prices of their parts are low, but their availability is high. Because there are still so many engines still in operation in the Caribbean, parts for engines built in the late 60’s are still available and sitting on our shelves.
For purchasers of new diesel engines, Perkins still manufactures their modern engine in lower Tier variants. Most models are available in Tier 2 or even Tier 0, often with no electronics whatsoever. You can specify those engines when sourcing new equipment. Perkins uses letters to designate their Tier ratings. A is for Tier 0, B for Tier 1 and so on to D for Tier 3. Stay away from E rated engines for Tier 4 (see previous article on Tier 4 engines in the Caribbean).
In any case, electronic Diesel Engines are the new reality. They offer a greater amount of control, and make exhaust cleaner than ever considered possible 20 to 30 years ago. But they do so at a cost. Parts are reasonable and available to rebuild or keep your older engines running, which may be your best course of action. And lower Tier engines are available for Lesser Regulated Countries.