After treatment maintenance tips

After treatment systems have come a long way since their introduction to the trucking industry.

The EPA 2007 and 2010 regulations ramped up the technology and performance of the systems to staggering heights. And while today’s after treatment systems are incredibly effective, they aren’t perfect.

During a mini-technical session Wednesday at the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) Fall Meeting in Orlando, an experienced fleet panels shared its tips on maintaining these programs to maximize performance and eliminate downtime.

Tip 1 – Driver education

Bryan Lewis, ASE master technician at Walmart and 2007-2008 TMC SuperTech champion, says educating drivers on the after treatment diagnostics, and performance clues, is a good way to eliminate roadside breakdowns.

Drivers know to contact their terminal if they see a fault code, but also knowing the best course of action for the vehicle when a specific light kicks on dramatically improves diagnostic time.

“They need to know what is required of them,” he says.

Mark Irwin, director of maintenance, Eastern Region at Bison Transport, says his fleet trains its drivers on after treatment systems and fault codes before putting them in new trucks.

That education is key when hauling across central Canada in harsh winter conditions.

Tip 2 – Tech education

Ryder’s Mike Dennis says there’s more to service than what pops up on a diagnostic test. With after treatment systems, one problem can regularly be the result of a secondary issue. Technicians able to identify that secondary root cause dramatically reduce overall maintenance costs.

“Some techs will fix what’s broken,” he says, “but they don’t look at downstream.”

Lewis agrees, and says technicians also should be trained on the engineering of a system so they can easily identify trouble areas when other problems are found.

“You have to look for the collateral damage.”

Tip 3 – Keep after treatment products clean

Superintendent Roger Straker says simple cleaning best practices has dramatically reduced contamination to after treatment systems in New York City Transit buses.

Straker says NYC Transit now includes DEF nozzle, tank and hose cleaning during PMs. The City also has used a geo-fencing program to control when buses regen to ensure the cycle can complete.

“Opportunities for contamination do occur,” he says.

Tip 4 – OE cooperation

All four panelists recommend working with truck and engine OEMs when other problems arise. Sometimes simple solutions can be found for big problems.

Straker says that was the case when NYC Transit identified EPA 2007 engines were creating an extremely high temperature exhaust. Concerned about this heat impacting city pedestrians, Straker says its OE was able to create an exhaust diffuser that redirects warm air away from passing pedestrians.

Dennis says Ryder used information from its OEMs to create educational pamphlets to inform customers and terminal operators on system maintenance.

With such a diverse (and sometimes uninformed) customer base, Dennis says having the additional information is a key to keeping Ryder’s trucks out of its bays.

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