I spent last week in Las Vegas at PowerGen, which takes advantage of its year-end setting to toddle between coasts where purveyors and customers of power-related ware can meet in relative comfort to prepare for the next year’s challenges and opportunities. Four of our six magazines—Distributed Energy, MSW Management, Water Efficiency, and Stormwater—have obvious connections with the expo…but what’s this have to do with construction? you ask.
“Not much,” I’d have to say…unless you have need of gensets or other motorized equipment on your job sites. Then PowerGen makes sense, so let’s talk about them for a bit.
According to the equipment providers, the vast majority of their sales are not to end-users, but to rental companies. That’s the way it’s been for years and likely to continue, so again, why should you care? Tier 4i is the answer I was given.
One of the manufacturer reps with whom I spoke said to me (verbatim), “We know what Tier 4i means, and the rental companies are up to speed as well, but it’s the users in the field that we need to get to…[pause]…which means your magazine.”
There are two issues here; one having to do with sticker shock, and the other having to do with the operation of the machines themselves. It should come as no surprise that Tier 4i equipment comes with a healthy price increase that will be reflected in rental rates. In recognition of this, the manufacturers have taken what steps they could to add beneficial features to ease the pain. But the operational aspects—notably management of the diesel particulate filter (DPF) system—involve other matters that must be dealt with.
As soot builds up in the DPF, an electronic control unit then determines the optimum time to initiate the regenerative activity by elevating exhaust gas temperatures to promote oxidation and burn off soot in the DPF. Normally regeneration can take place transparently, but not always, and this is where operator knowledge and performance come into play…something different from past genset operating requirements.
Of course, not every activity will require the use of Tier 4i equipment, so in a future issue we will present a roundtable discussion involving manufacturers, rental company representatives, telematics providers, and regulators, focusing on how you can make the best and most cost efficient use of your job-site equipment.