On the surface, measuring an industrial diesel engine’s fuel consumption and its effect on your total cost of ownership (TCO) seems straight forward, but too much focus on the fuel gage can mean you’re overlooking other important factors and indirect costs.
Understanding the end customer’s business is key for both engine manufacturers and OEMs in order to give the best recommendation on which engine to choose. Over its lifetime a large industrial engine can consume hundreds of thousands of liters of diesel. For some applications the machinery fuel cost can make up over 90 per cent of the total cost of ownership.
This means that rightsizing your engine for the machine and the right configuration for said engine can save a whole lot of money. An example of this is Dalby Maskin in Sweden. By swapping out their engines, the company lowered fuel costs by over €100,000 per year.
Here are some of the less-heralded benefits of lower fuel consumption that will also affect your total cost of ownership.
The logistical cost of refilling
How difficult and time consuming is it to refill your machine? Low fuel consumption means refilling less often, and therefore could mean saving time and logistical costs. If you operate in remote locations – such as in agriculture – these logistical savings can be significant. In some instances, it could be worth investing in a larger fuel tank if it means refilling less often.
“If you operate remotely and need a fuel tank to transport fuel to your machine, then lowering the number of trips will have a huge impact on your logistics costs,” says Per Karlsson Application Engineer, Volvo Penta.
The impact on productivity
Conversely, if refilling logistics are not a significant expense, lower fuel consumption could open up the possibility of using a smaller tank. This in turn could increase the payload of your vehicle. “In many industries, such as mining, every extra kilo of payload can quickly add up and make a significant contribution to a company’s bottom line. Especially if your vehicle is making multiple trips a day,” adds Karlsson.
Time is money
In some industries, speed is the most important parameter, in which case it’s important to limit the time needed to refill. For example, in agriculture, the window for harvesting can be short and as much produce as possible needs to be harvested as quickly as possible. Or water pumps, which typically are used for tasks that need to be completed urgently. So instead of opting for a smaller tank, in this case a fuel-efficient engine can give you more productivity from the machine.
“The cost of fuel isn’t always about the amount you consume. It can also be about the impact of refilling and what that means for your business,” says Per Karlsson. “Only by taking all these factors into account can you fully understand the true cost of fuel on your TCO.”
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.