Why ‘premium’ doesn’t mean ‘expensive’

When it comes to industrial diesel engines, often spending more upfront can lower operating costs later on. Here are some areas where, from a total cost of ownership (TCO) perspective, buying premium can quickly prove to be the cheaper option in the long run.

“Some people tend to just focus on a sticker price of something, and do not look at the bigger picture,” says Arturo Garcia Aliaga, Sales Engineer at Volvo Penta International. “But given how much is invested in industrial engines and off-road machinery, it doesn’t make sense to do things that will save you pennies today if it can cost you thousands tomorrow.”

Engine oil: time not litres
A high-quality engine oil will inevitable cost more but it will also last longer and will extend the intervals needed between filter changes. In some cases, depending on the operating conditions, high quality oil can last up to 1000 hours before needing to be changed. A lower quality oil on the other hand, might need to be changed every 200 hours under the same conditions.

“Try to look at the cost per hour rather than cost per litre,” explains Arturo. “Then you also need to factor in the cost of filters and filter changes, and the downtime that comes with that. This will showcase the true difference.”

The same principle applies to other products, such as lubricants, as this example from Volvo Construction Equipment shows.

Non-genuine spare parts: high risk, low reward
Spare parts are another area where short-term savings can easily turn into long-term costs. Genuine parts from an OEM have been validated and tested, so you can be confident of their reliability, durability and performance. They are also fully covered by warranties so if a part does fail and causes damage to the engine, not only will the OEM reimburse the cost of the part but also the repairs for the engine. A non-genuine part – while cheaper – comes with no such guarantees.

“You are taking a huge risk when using non-genuine parts, and often for only a very marginal saving,” says Arturo. “When you factor in the hours of operation each option gives you, the genuine part can often be more cost-efficient. And when you add the cost of repairs and loss of income from downtime, there really is no comparison.”

Special features: added value or expensive luxury?
Making sure that parts do not need to be changed in the first place can obviously be an important cost saver. As an OEM it is vital to explore the different opportunities provided by different engine suppliers to find solutions that best suit your business.

One example of this comes in the form of stronger shrink-mesh wire harness for Volvo Penta’s Stage V engine range. For environments that are not prone to dust, such as harbours or hospital backup generators, this option can be an unnecessary extra cost. On the other hand, in applications such as in mining, construction or even agriculture, the extra strong harness protects the wiring against dust and vibrations, and by extension increases uptime.

“We always strive to understand the working conditions for each engine and to adapt our solutions to them. OEMs and end customers together often have the best view of how products are used in the field and getting their input is of vital importance,” says Arturo Garcia Aliaga.

Arturo Garcia Aliaga is Sales Manager and Application Engineer for Volvo Penta’s import business. He has a Masters degree in maintenance management, and has worked with Volvo Penta since 2007.