2014 will usher in a new generation of Tier 4 Final (Tier 4f) engine-equipped air compressors as manufacturers make these new units available to the marketplace. Tier 4f-compliant products are being introduced to meet regulations for reduced air emissions established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for machines ranging from 25 to 74 hp.
As Tier 4f-compliant air compressors roll into equipment fleets, machines equipped with older and higher emission engines are expected to be replaced since the emissions performance and environmental standards continue to become a focus.
The requirement for meeting Tier 4f standards has been a phased implementation over the past decade. The most recent phase was an interim step, known as Tier 4i. The final stage of implementation means most large-scale manufacturers will now include Tier 4f engines in newly manufactured machines.
While the complex technology needed to meet emissions standards has increased the development and retail cost of machines, most manufacturers are adding advancements that will impact field operation. These advancements — improved efficiency, fuel cost savings, less maintenance — should be realized when evaluating the cost and benefits of upgrading to new technology.
“These are not the same machines simply repackaged with new engines, but machines with added technology and features for better efficiency, more uptime and extra value on the jobsite,” says Rus Warner, Manager of Global Air Products for Doosan Portable Power.
Tier 4 Final Options
Tier 4f engine models in small to mid-size air compressors have been designed with after-treatment technologies that reduce particulate matter (PM) contained in engine exhaust. Most manufacturers have focused on two options for PM reduction — a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) or diesel particulate filter (DPF).
When new engines are designed for PM reduction with DOCs, the engine exhaust is transformed by the DOC to reduce PM. The DOC is a special catalyst that reacts with engine exhaust upon contact. The reaction transforms some of the PM emissions in the exhaust into harmless substances such as water and carbon dioxide.
When new engines are designed with DPF technology, engine exhaust is filtered by the DPF to reduce PM. The DPF is a special “ceramic wall flow” filtration system that further separates PM from the engine exhaust.
To keep the DPF clean and working efficiently, the high temperature of the exhaust itself is used to burn accumulated PM off of the DPF. The DPF cleaning process is referred to as “regeneration.”
For engines with DPFs, the regeneration process sometimes requires activation by the operator and the process could affect production due to machine downtime. The regeneration process could also involve machine shutdown and transport to an off-site location in order to meet regeneration standards of certain jobsites.
Machines with engines utilizing DOC, on the other hand, do not require a regeneration process to satisfy emissions standards.
“Operating an air compressor is different than other machines because you turn it on and walk away,” says Warner. “But if DPF technology is being used for the engine, as in some manufacturer’s air compressors, the required regeneration process involves operator action. Operator intervention is sometimes required. When DOC technology is used for the engine, there’s no required operator input, allowing the machine to operate independently and productively on a jobsite.”
What to Look for in a Tier 4 Final Air Compressor
When weighing the cost and benefits of upgrading to a machine with Tier 4 technology, it’s important to consider the long-term advantages. In fact, upgrading to an air compressor with a Tier 4f engine may prove more profitable in the short term as environmental standards become more common on jobsites and emissions performance becomes more of a factor in awarding job bids.
Of course, not all air compressors with Tier 4f engines are created equal. Understanding what functions and features to look for in various models will help in finding the right fit for your needs. To select the right Tier 4f engine-equipped air compressor, consider the following factors:
Fuel efficiency: Does the Tier 4f machine include additional features for maximizing fuel efficiency? Some manufacturers have reengineered new air compressors with added technology features such as a variable speed cooling fan that engages only when required by higher operating temperatures, cutting fuel costs compared to previous Tier models.
Downtime: Does the Tier 4f air compressor require operator attention, such as DPF regeneration that will cause downtime and potential time away from a jobsite? Because DOC-only engine-equipped machines do not require a regeneration process, uptime is higher.
Operator Interaction: Are there additional advanced features that have been designed into the new Tier 4f machine for improved productivity? Some Tier 4f air compressors have been equipped with new digital control panels that offer at-a-glance viewing of multiple machine parameters, making it possible to focus time on other jobsite needs.
Maintenance: Will the Tier 4f-compliant air compressor require different oil, filters and additional preventive or scheduled maintenance? The complex designs of the Tier 4f engine-equipped air compressors can demand different care for the lifespan of the machine, as well as additional servicing of machines with engines using DPF technology.
Enclosure Dimensions: Did the enclosure footprint of the air compressor model change to meet Tier 4f emissions standards? A compact footprint provides for easy towing and maneuverability, yet some machines may have increased in size to accommodate the new technology needed to meet standards.
Additional Features: Does the machine have additional enhancements such as noise reduction or safety features? Many Tier 4f machines have been built with these additional features to improve jobsite operation.
“We’re confident this new generation of air compressors is every bit as high quality, every bit as reliable and every bit as good an investment as in previous years,” says Warner. “At the end of the day, they’re really good machines. They’re well-designed, and they’re high tech.”
As more user-friendly and fuel efficient features have been designed into Tier 4f air compressors, you can be confident in adding the latest technology to your fleet. A reliable and dependable dealer or rental provider can assist in helping you select the right air compressor for getting the job done.
Jamie Jackson is a Public Relations Writer for Two Rivers Marketing,