Fleet maintenance key for dealers on the road

Catering equipment dealers and service companies that operate company vehicles are being alerted to new emissions legislation that will make it more important than ever to consider the environmental impact of their fleets.

Via Euro 6 emissions legislation, the European Union aims to introduce stricter limits on pollutant emissions from light road vehicles, particularly for emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulates.

This is having a direct impact on how vehicles are being manufactured, which in turn will affect the way a vehicle is maintained, warns Gary Dean, technical support manager at Northgate Vehicle Hire.

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“The biggest challenge that businesses will need to overcome as part of these changes is how this will affect their fleet functionality,” he says.

In order to become more fuel efficient, manufacturers are adapting vehicles. These adaptations will result in additional maintenance considerations for businesses operating a fleet — presenting both practical and logistical challenges.

Dean says that most manufacturers of vehicles at 3,500kgs gross vehicle weight (GVW) have confirmed that they will be using Adblue — a clear, non-toxic, aqueous urea solution used to treat exhausts on modern clean diesel engines — to meet the new regulations.

Used in conjunction with a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) converter, AdBlue has a profound effect on otherwise difficult to control oxides of nitrogen diesel emissions by turning the pollutant gasses into water and nitrogen, which are both harmless; and these are then released through the exhaust to the atmosphere.

This innovative solution helps to reduce harmful emissions, however there are clear operational challenges involved in relation to the vehicle’s maintenance.

“On the standard Tipper, the adapted vehicle is dependant on the manufacturer between 3,000 to 6,000 miles before it requires topping up with Adblue,” says Dean. “If the driver fails to top the vehicle up when required, following warnings from the dash board, it would go into ‘Limp Mode’ or fail to start — resulting in a breakdown and possibly vehicle recovery being required.”

As with Adblue, Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) will also be introduced to some light commercial vehicles to meet legislation. Similar logistical and operational problems can be associated with this solution.

In short, Dean insists the way vehicles work is changing fast and businesses need to start considering their fleet maintenance to ensure minimised downtime from breakdown.

“Businesses looking to be on the front foot with their fleet need to consider three key points: the maintenance support of these new vehicles, the acquisition methods and resulting costs involved in incorporating Euro 6 Emissions vehicles into their fleet, and finally the expertise required to service these vehicles.”

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