Lowering fuel costs – whatever the application03/09/2013
“What we’re trying to do is very simple,” says Magnus Larsson, acting manager of Volvo Penta’s application engineering department. “We want to get the most power out of the fuel we use—regardless of machine application.”
Simple in theory, optimizing fuel consumption is much harder in practice—especially so when Volvo Penta is trying to optimize fuel economy for a variety of machines working in a wide range of different applications. “In surveys, fuel consumption is frequently cited as a big part of customer satisfaction. But there are so many variables and unknowns that providing low fuel consumption in all cases can be tricky,” Magnus says.
Finding common ground
However, if you look hard enough, common threads can be found, even among such a diverse group of machines. These synergies help Volvo Penta arrive at flexible engine solutions that suit a wide variety of functions and benefit the largest number of customers possible.
“Within segments, we see a lot of similarities in terms of what OEMs want,” Magnus explains. “In mining, for example, fuel economy is not as important as uptime and ventilation rates. So we aim for the lowest emission engines possible for that segment. In material handling, however, fuel efficiency is highly important—but is often dependent on operator behavior. So we work with those OEMs to come up with fuel-saving operating techniques.”
Volvo Penta takes these factors into account when performing field tests in the most common applications of its prioritized segments. But first it collects the analysis that OEMs have already done. “Then we do our own calibrations and run field tests with prototypes, logging fuel consumption continuously. We fine-tune as we go, taking into account the feedback we receive,” Magnus says.
Meant for each other
For the most part, optimization has to do with the relationship between engine and transmission. “It’s important to look at the complete package — not just our engines — when we’re running optimization tests. The wrong transmission can cause a fuel-efficient engine to end up consuming quite a lot of fuel,” Magnus says. “We try to provide as much information as possible to the OEMs so that they can install the transmissions that work most effectively with our engines.”
Crushing poor fuel efficiency
Recently a mobile crusher manufacturer approached Volvo Penta about lowering its fuel consumption in order to decrease its customers’ operating expenses. Volvo Penta replaced the OEM’s existing engine with a Volvo D13 Tier 4 Final-compliant engine. The company then provided full technical support and weekly follow-up meetings to track installation progress. Using official certification numbers, Volvo Penta calculated that the engine’s fuel consumption was 6% lower than that of the crusher’s previous engine (as well as meeting the forthcoming emissions requirements in Europe and North America).
Similarly, an air compressor manufacturer recently challenged Volvo Penta to reduce its customers’ total cost of ownership by repowering its machines. Volvo Penta fitted the compressor with a Volvo TAD1642VE engine — with the result that the manufacturer’s products saved an average of 10 liters of fuel per hour, experienced longer maintenance intervals, reduced noise, burnt less oil and experienced lower emissions levels. The result was a savings of up to $25,000 per year per unit.
“We were very pleased with these results,” Magnus says. “We want to offer our customers solutions that are cost-effective over the lifetime of their machines. Increasing fuel efficiency is one major way of doing that. We’re proving every day—in field tests as well as on job sites—that our engines can dramatically reduce an operator’s total cost of ownership.”
About Volvo Penta
Volvo Penta, with approximately 4,000 dealers in over 130 countries, is a world-leading and global manufacturer of engines and complete power systems for boats, vessels and industrial applications. The engine program comprises diesel and gasoline engines with power outputs of between 10 and 900 hp. Volvo Penta is part of the Volvo Group, one of the world's leading manufacturers of heavy trucks, buses and construction equipment.
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