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5/26/2014 3:15:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Proper Engine Maintenance Necessary to Extend Life of DPFs, Managers Say

By Roger Gilroy, Special to Transport Topics

This story appears in the May 26 print edition of Transport Topics.

Diesel particulate filters, a key element of truck emissions systems since 2007, can present fleets with problems if they are not routinely maintained along with the truck’s engine, experts said.

“If the engine isn’t maintained properly, it will go into regeneration more times than it needs to. In that case, your [DPF] gets clogged up quicker than it should,” said Michael Buck, the principal at MCB Consulting in Kansas City, Kansas, and a former maintenance executive with Con-way Freight and UPS Inc.

Regeneration is the process of removing excess soot from the filter. If a DPF — which is used in engines with selective catalytic reduction as well as those with exhaust gas recirculation — becomes clogged with ash and soot, the unit has to be taken off the truck to be cleaned.

Tim Moore, senior director of maintenance for Watkins Group, a refrigerated carrier in Lakeland, Florida, said ash accumulated during DPF usage can’t be burned off because it’s a byproduct of regeneration heat.

“You can’t burn the ash; it’s already burned.” he said.

Roadwarrior, in The Woodlands, Texas, and a unit of DPF maker DCL International Inc., said on its website that proper maintenance of DPFs “will help reduce back pressure and improve fuel economy.”

“An extra . . . DPF can be used as an ideal swing unit to avoid any unnecessary downtime while a DPF is being cleaned,” said David Jerman, Roadwarrior’s product line sales manager. “Proper DPF cleaning may require the unit to be baked, which can cause typical delays of at least one to two days.”

Many carriers, such as the Watkins Group, are having their DPFs cleaned by outside companies, including dealerships.

However, that is creating another problem.

With several thousand new trucks that use diesel particulate filters sold each month joining the hundreds of thousands in use, truck dealers and companies that clean DPFs are overwhelmed, industry experts said.

“You’re starting to see the dealer network become overwhelmed because at 200,000 miles, for some companies, that’s a little over a year of driving, said Tim Moore, senior director of maintenance for Watkins Group.

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