Today, OEMs are placing a greater emphasis on building long-term customer relationships that extend well beyond the original sale of the machine. Intense global competition makes this emphasis essential not only to protect the OEM’s reputation, but also as a source of continuing revenue and a solid foundation for future sales.
Since designing a new machine, or even repowering an existing one, takes considerable time, OEMs can’t wait until the end of the process to think about how the machine and engine will be supported in the field. And for attentive suppliers that means innovations in modern diesel engines cannot be restricted just to combustion and emissions technologies any longer.
A good example of how this impacts development of a new engine family is the Perkins Syncro 3.6- and 2.8-L engine line. Even though they will not enter production until 2019, meeting OEM and customer requirements for continued support started right at the beginning of the design process.
A key Perkins design principle is that regular service points should be accessible, but that’s often easier said than done in an engine that can be fitted into hundreds of different machine models. Nevertheless, Perkins’ engineers took on the challenge.
They analyzed in detail the engine compartments of more than 80 different customer machines to determine the optimum service access points for features like dipsticks, oil filters and oil fillers. The angles at which people access the oil filters were also analyzed, which resulted in a design that allows the filters to be changed with minimum drips.
Reducing the total amount of service an engine needs was another design goal. Using hydraulic valve lash adjusters, for example, means valve clearance does not have to be set as a service operation. That saves time and money for the operator. It also means the engine compartment needs to make less provision for technician access so more components can be mounted in locations such as directly above the engine.
Using high-quality multi-vee belts with autotensioners is another way to extend service intervals. In the Perkins Syncro 3.6- and 2.8-L engines, the air-conditioning compressor, which is increasingly becoming standard equipment in almost all equipment with cabs, is incorporated into this same belt line.
Aftertreatment is another major issue with today’s engines. Here the approach was to remove service operations as completely as possible. Diesel particulate filters (DPFs), which will be necessary to meet future emissions standards, are a good example.
DPFs accumulate ash, which is mostly a byproduct of unburned additives to engine oil. That accumulation eventually requires a service operation. Careful attention to engine details, including cylinder design which minimizes oil consumption and through aftertreatment design, produces a system in which this operation is infrequently required. For the average machine in the Perkins Syncro 3.6- and 2.8-L power class, this service operation would not be necessary in the first 10 years of the machine’s life, and in many cases not at all during the useful life of the machine.
Perkins’ engineers also worked to simplify the aftertreatment process on these engines for both the operator and the service technician by making regeneration of the aftertreatment invisible to the operator who will not need to push a button or respond to a light. This strategy is already running very successfully on the Perkins 1204 engine, the forerunner and big brother to the Perkins Syncro 3.6- and 2.8-L range.
The last piece of the OEM support system is a robust global parts, service and overhaul capability utilizing parts made to strict Perkins quality specifications. That ensures both OEM customers and the users of their machines that the choice of Perkins power is a long-term win-win for everyone involved.
Oliver Lythgoe, Product Concept Marketing Manager, Perkins Engines Company Limited, wrote this article for Truck & Off-Highway Engineering as part of our annual Executive Viewpoints series.