At one time, meeting diesel exhaust emissions requirements was a burden placed mainly on manufacturers of new equipment. But as local air quality districts strive to come into compliance with mandates in the Clean Air Act to conform to National Ambient Air Quality Standards, emissions from existing equipment in contractors' fleets has been targeted.
In most metropolitan areas, regions that exceed minimum air quality standards for any one or a number of pollutants are classified as non-attainment zones. In these zones, the federal government can withhold highway funding, and state or local legislatures can enforce their own requirements to reduce pollutants more quickly. Since not all non-attainment zones are dealing with the same pollutants or severity of pollutant levels, a patchwork of local regulations has sprung up. In the case of diesel engines, the main pollutants generated are nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate matter (PM). Local reductions of these pollutants will continue to escalate into the foreseeable future. While more modern fleets may conform to local requirements, many of the older fleets may not.
So what does this mean to you?
If you plan to work in a non-attainment zone - which includes many of the metropolitan areas across the U.S. - you may need to conform to these emerging requirements. In addition, many project owners are putting their own emissions restrictions into bids as part of the green building movement.
"Emissions requirements will be in bids, and if it is not considered up front, it can turn a profit into a big loss," says John Bartz, emission solutions manager, Volvo Construction Equipment. "There have been contractors and subcontractors prohibited from sites due to not having the required emissions equipment. This is not a problem that gets fixed overnight."
Compounding the problem is the fact that rules in each non-attainment zone can vary. "This can lead to a lot of confusion for the contractor as there is no consistency," says Bartz. "As a manufacturer, we are always listening to our customers and to what is going on in the market. Never bid blind, and use all the contacts you have to gain a full understanding of the regulations. State or city officials are usually very helpful in explaining what is required. After that, your Volvo dealer can help identify what the best path is for a specific piece of equipment."
Cummins' Clint Schroer adds, "With a large contract, you need to make sure you understand local regulation requirements before purchasing new equipment, or determining if you are going to repower, rebuild, replace or retrofit an existing piece of equipment. If you are working with an existing piece of equipment, you will need to consider the installation cost, as well as the cost of any engine or device. Considering the total cost of [adding] an aftermarket solution to the piece of equipment will be the best way to make an educated decision."
Repower or retire?
According to Schroer, there are a number of ways fleets can be made cleaner. "The options are: repowering, rebuilding, replacing, refueling and retrofit aftertreatment," he says. "Cummins Emissions Solutions provides a wide range of product options, depending upon the emission reduction objective.
"Currently, the EPA has said that on-road solutions may be applied to off-road applications, and we have a number of products that would apply," he continues. "Our on-highway experience and technology give us insight in designing off-highway solutions, such as a DPF that meets the construction market's rugged and demanding conditions. Our distributors have the capability to not only provide installation and service support, but to also help customers make the best product choice depending on need or objective."
Repowering is one of the most popular options. "That is an important solution because it brings tangible value to a piece of machinery," says Glen Chrusciel, program manager, retrofit and repower for John Deere Power Systems. "[Repowering] a machine from Tier 0 up to a Tier 3 not only gives you the emissions compliance, it also adds residual value to the machine, as well as productivity and fuel economy."