North Dakota Company Reduces Service Truck Engine Idle Time with Work Truck Solution - MillerWelds

North Dakota Company Reduces Service Truck Engine Idle Time with Work Truck Solution

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For nearly six decades, Butler Machinery Company has offered equipment sales, service and product support for customers in a variety of industries, including construction, agriculture, demolition and scrap handling, mining, landscaping, power generation and on-highway trucking. With a fleet of approximately 175 service trucks manned by skilled field service technicians, Butler must be prepared with reliable and versatile equipment for the repair, maintenance and service jobs the company is called upon to handle 24 hours a day, seven days a week to keep customers up and running in the field.

North Dakota Company Reduces Service Truck Engine Idle Time with Work Truck Solution

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In addition, in-shop services offered at many of Butler’s 16 locations across North and South Dakota include engine and transmission rebuilds, hydraulic repair and truck engine service.

Not only is Butler a certified CAT equipment dealer, the company also offers support services such as fleet machine rental; equipment management software and computer software on topics such as life cycle costing and vehicle simulations; training and safety videos; and customer training seminars.

To meet the wide variety of its customer needs, while also lowering fuel and operation costs, the third-generation family-owned company decided to convert its truck fleet to EnPak® power systems, adding 17 of the machines so far. The fully integrated power system for the work truck provides Butler field service technicians with an air compressor, a hydraulic pump and a generator powered by a fuel-efficient diesel engine integrated with the truck’s fuel supply and battery — all in one convenient, efficient and dependable machine. This solution provides all these jobsite capabilities with the work truck’s engine turned off.

“One of the main things that the guys do like is the convenience,” says Dustin Alderin, regional field service adviser for Butler. “Everything is right there at the tip of your fingers.”

One machine for many needs

Butler workers like the convenience and ease of the full jobsite functionality offered by the machine. It reduces the need to switch between multiple machines, hooking and unhooking plugs and cables, since it is a combination of the air, power and hydraulic capabilities that Butler employees frequently use in the field. Much of Butler’s service and repair work happens in the field, such as during planting and harvest season and during peak construction periods. It’s also common for technicians to use the unit’s generator to power auxiliary tools or a welder when they get called to repair and maintenance jobs in customers’ shops.

The unit provides a 60 cfm air compressor with air-on-demand delivery, a 20 gpm Eaton hydraulic pump, a 6000-watt generator and a 2400-watt EnVerter™ powered by a 24.8 hp Kubota diesel engine that is compliant with Tier 4 Final regulations to reduce emissions.

“It’s all in the system and that just saves you time,” says Todd Hammer, Butler field service technician. “It’s all right there. It’s got everything that I need when I’m out working on anything.”

Fuel savings and efficiency

The ability to turn the truck engine off and utilize the machine’s power system reduces fuel usage and truck engine idle time for Butler. The diesel engine uses up to 30 percent less fuel than a work truck’s engine and costs up to 79 percent less to maintain, according to Miller field testing.

“We’ve noticed a substantial idle reduction with our EnPak-equipped vehicles,” says Kelly Klemisch, fleet manager for Butler. “We like to look at things from a life cycle perspective, and we understand that in two to three years we can return that investment, that invested capital, and pass that on directly to our customers.”

That estimated payback of two to three years for the system came from a Butler return-on-investment analysis that looked at fuel and maintenance savings and reduced operating costs.

Along with less truck idle time, several technology advancements also play a role in the maximized fuel savings for Butler. An industry-exclusive load-management system monitors accessory requirements and adjusts the engine’s speed to match demand, delivering only the amount of power required while also allowing the simultaneous operation of the generator, compressor and hydraulics. These features allow field service technicians to weld on one side of the truck while another worker uses a grinder or an impact wrench on the other side — without any lag in power.

“You can plug in multiple things that run, and get everything out that you need,” Hammer says. “It’s more efficient that way. You don’t have to keep unplugging things, looking for power. It’s right there for you.”

The 6,000-watt generator helps save fuel with EnVerter technology, which delivers up to 2,400 watts of continuous 120 V, 60 Hz, pure sine wave power at low engine speeds. Butler uses the generator to power tools and equipment, including welders, and also lights, laptops and cell phones, which adds to the convenience for workers who may be called to a field repair in the middle of the night.

Additionally, auto start/stop technology shuts off the engine when no accessory loads are detected, increasing fuel savings. When Butler workers apply a load, the engine starts quickly, supplying the power necessary to perform the job. Each operator can adjust the auto start/stop time window, anywhere from two minutes to 30 minutes.

Versatility and ease of use

The load sensing and auto start/stop technologies on the machine contribute to ease of operation.

“It’s one less thing they need to worry about when they’re on a job,” Klemisch says. “They don’t need to switch on, switch off a machine. It basically does it on its own.”

Butler workers also notice the enhanced cfm capabilities, which can drive a wide variety of tools with high airflow capacity. The air-on-demand delivery system eliminates the lag time common with other air reservoir systems, so Butler workers can instantly engage the compressor in response to loads and quickly deliver the required air pressure.

“We can get air to the tools faster,” Klemisch says. “We’ve noticed increased air compressor performance, which has really been a benefit to our technicians.”

When using the hydraulic pump, Butler workers get smooth, reliable and precision crane operation. A low-speed lock function enhances control, minimizing hydraulic flow for maximum precision. 

“You can change the engine speed, which also will change the speed of the crane,” Hammer says. “It’s very smooth. I like it because you got all the differing speeds you can use, but when you lift heavier stuff, you want to keep it as slow as possible.”

Butler workers power Miller Maxstar® 200 STR welders off the 6,000-watt generator. These lightweight welders provide superior arc characteristics and are portable enough for Butler to move among the company’s trucks and field jobs.

Reduced maintenance and extended chassis life

Reducing engine idle time not only provides fuel savings, it also results in maintenance savings for Butler. The company is able to reduce the frequency of maintenance and lower costs for preventive maintenance as a result.

“The less idling that occurs with that, the lower the maintenance costs and the less issues we experience,” Klemisch says.

That is especially useful with truck engines that are Tier 4 compliant and require the servicing of emissions-control equipment. Some Butler trucks equipped with PTO (power take-off) systems experience emissions issues that can cost from $4,000 to $18,000 to repair.

“In some of those extreme situations, we basically park that truck, sell it as is and purchase another chassis,” Klemisch says.

The EnPak diesel engine does not require diesel exhaust fluid and has no diesel particulate filter to clean or replace, further simplifying maintenance for Butler.

Reducing truck engine idle time by relying on the system for jobsite functions also helps extend the life of the truck drivetrain, so Butler expects to use fleet trucks longer. Using the unit along with a smaller suitcase welder saves Butler about 150 pounds of truck payload, compared to carrying a hydraulic air compressor and an auxiliary welder.

“We believe that we can extend our asset life, especially our Class 5 trucks, at least a year or two,” Klemisch says. “From a capital investment standpoint, we believe we will save approximately $4,000 a year in asset replacement costs per EnPak in service.”

Impact on noise and emissions

In addition to the fuel, maintenance and asset life-cycle savings, the machine improves the working environment for Butler employees. Turning the service truck off instead of running it in idle reduces truck emissions and noise, resulting in a more comfortable jobsite.

Also, the auto start/stop technology reduces noise and exhaust emissions because the engine only runs when there is a load detected. The specially designed enclosure further reduces sound output.