How to Avoid Work Truck Downtime Caused by DPF Regeneration - MillerWelds

How to Avoid Work Truck Downtime Caused by DPF Regeneration

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Less frequent engine regeneration helps you reduce downtime and keep working — saving time and money on your work truck.
Service truck equipped with a Miller EnPak in the field

A better solution for Tier 4 Final engines

Your work truck is a mobile repair shop outfitted with the tools necessary to tackle any job you encounter. Having the right tools on hand helps you stay productive and get the job done quickly.

But performing the job correctly and quickly isn’t your only concern. Staying on top of truck maintenance is also critical to keeping the operation up and running.

The implementation of Tier 4 Final (T4F) regulations has resulted in significant changes for owners and operators of diesel engine work trucks. Engine regeneration is one new challenge related to T4F that increases downtime and can impact truck performance.

In T4F engines, the diesel particulate filter (DPF) traps soot from engine exhaust gases and must be periodically cleaned through regeneration to maintain emissions reduction performance and fuel efficiency. How frequently regeneration must happen depends on several factors, including how much time a work truck runs at idle and light loads.

The more a T4F engine idles — such as when it’s used to power compressors, pumps, hydraulic cranes and other jobsite tools — the more clogged the filter becomes.

DPF warning levels

Driving at uninterrupted highway speed is one way to automatically regenerate the engine. Another option is to perform a parked regeneration with the engine running. This cleaning cycle can result in up to an hour of downtime for the truck.

When power take-off (PTO) equipment is run off of T4F engines for extended periods of time, particulate can build up faster in the filter. Many owner’s manuals recommend that if PTO-driven equipment is powered for more than one hour without driving the truck, the DPF warning system should be checked at the one-hour mark and every 15 minutes after.

Because soot levels are impacted by numerous factors, the in-field technician must monitor filter buildup. The system has different warning levels to signal the need for engine regeneration. Consider this example of warning levels from one manufacturer’s manual:

  • Level one: The DPF warning light comes on, signaling the soot is above the desired level and requires regeneration soon.
  • Level two: The warning light begins to flash, and regeneration should be performed as soon as safely possible.
  • Level three: The warning light continues to flash, and the check engine light comes on. Regeneration should be performed immediately. If action isn’t taken, engine power will de-rate at a level that varies by manufacturer.
  • Level four: The DPF warning light flashes and the stop engine light comes on, meaning the soot level in the DPF is full. Engine power will de-rate — by as much as 40 percent — and begin a shutdown sequence. At this point, the operator cannot regenerate the DPF, and the truck must be taken to an authorized dealer to have the DPF removed so it can be cleaned or replaced.

When the stop engine light illuminates during level four, there is a serious engine system problem and it should be considered an emergency. The vehicle should be stopped and the ignition turned off.

Filter buildup can also be impacted by weather. Idling the truck engine for three or more hours in freezing temperatures accelerates soot buildup in the DPF, requiring more frequent regeneration.

Extended idling also results in greater hydrocarbon deposits and moisture in the DPF. This causes the engine rpm to automatically increase in order to clear the contaminants from the filter — burning additional fuel and increasing costs.

Challenges of regeneration

The need to frequently check the DPF is an added task that causes interruption — and takes you away from getting work done.

It’s a hassle to stop work to perform a regeneration, and on some jobsites, technicians want to avoid the perception that they’re not working while a regeneration takes place. In addition, some operators may not want to perform the time-consuming regeneration at the end of a long work day and instead drive the truck home — even if engine power has been de-rated, limiting truck performance and speed. 

Because of these issues, the DPF warning light may be ignored or simply missed when the operator is working outside of the truck. The longer the warning light is illuminated, the more urgent the need for regeneration becomes.

If the engine shuts down and the truck must be towed to a dealer for DPF removal, this can add significantly more downtime to the process. The truck could be out of service for days, even weeks, if the shop is busy.

There is a better solution

So how can you reduce the hours your work truck spends idling? EnPak® all-in-one work truck solutions from Miller Electric Mfg. LLC allow you to turn off your work truck and still run the tools needed to get the job done efficiently.

EnPak solutions provide power for your jobsite needs and tools — all with the work truck turned off. Reducing engine idle hours not only saves substantial time and money through lower fuel costs and extended truck life, it also reduces the frequency of engine regeneration.

Extending this necessary engine maintenance helps you reduce downtime and keep working — so you can save time and money and move on to the next job.