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Simple measures to get the most out of your diesel engine

Looking after your machine’s diesel engine will help improve uptime, increase its durability, reduce its emissions and lower your total cost of ownership (TCO). Here are some of the small, simple measures you can take to ensure your engine keeps running as efficiently as possible.

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As industrial diesel engines become technologically more advanced, they also become more complex. Many of the new features on a modern-day engine – such as electronics and aftertreatment systems – bring many benefits such as lower emissions and pollutants. But they also bring new questions when it comes to proper maintenance.

“Engines today are not quite as straightforward to maintain as they might have been in the past,” says Per Karlsson, Application Engineer, Volvo Penta. “That’s why it’s more important than ever to keep an eye on the small details as these can have a big impact on the health of the engine if overlooked.”

Engine accessibility
One of the most important steps is to keep the engine and its surrounding area clean, ensuring no buildup of dust or debris. In terms of fuel consumption, an engine is most efficient when it is maintained. By regularly cleaning it and cleaning filters you can better maintain its efficiency. If a lot of dust gets into the cable harness/electronics or round the belts and radiator, it can cause cooling issues and additional wear and tear. For OEMs, it is therefore important to design machinery that protects the engine while still allowing easy access to the engine for service technicians.

“Some of these small things have a lot of benefits in the long run,” explains Per. “If servicing is easier then it will be done better, and the engine will be better maintained. It will mean fewer spare parts, fewer breakdowns and lower fuel consumption.”

Aftertreatment
Aftertreatment systems play a vital role in making engines cleaner and more sustainable, but they can also be the cause of issues if not properly maintained and kept clean. Since it is relatively new technology, it can often be overlooked, and this can create unnecessary and expensive breakdowns and repairs.

“For example, aftertreatment systems come with an extra tank for diesel exhaust fluid (DEF, AdBlue), and this is very sensitive to dirt or contamination. If the operator fails to wipe the lid and dust gets into the tank, it can cause damages totaling thousands of euros. Just from not following basic cleanliness. As engine technology continues to advance in order to meet stricter emissions requirements, we have to respect that or pay a heavy price.”

Operators
It goes without saying that you should always follow service and maintenance protocol to maximise uptime and reliability. But in between service intervals, it is also important that the engine is handled with care, and in this regards, the machine operator has an important role.

“If the operator likes a machine, they will look after it better, and this will extend its lifetime,” says Per. “This is why it’s worth taking an operator’s preferences when specifying an engine.”

The operator will also play a key role in keeping everything clean and tidy. By making sure that operators understand the impact of dust and dirt on the engine, it gives them incentives to look after it.

It can also be worth investing in operator training so that they know how to best use the machine. If the engine is pushed too hard, this will not only increase wear and tear on the engine’s components, but will also increase fuel consumption. Depending on the application, operators can also be trained in basic maintenance and repairs.

(For more information, read about operator training.)

Per Karlsson

Per Karlsson is a Sales and Application Engineer at Volvo Penta, who specializes in technical issues with OEMs and end customers. He has been at Volvo Penta for ten years, where he has worked with both the marine and industrial segments. Prior to joining Volvo Penta, Per has also worked with maintenance and aftermarket diagnostics in a wide variety of industries including shipping, construction, forestry and agriculture industries.