If you have purchased a new tractor or applicator from John Deere, AGCO or Case IH, you are already dealing with Tier 4 engines. Of course, if you have purchased on-road diesel equipment in recent years, Tier 4 emission controls are old hat. So old hat, in fact, that most service stations that sell diesel fuel now carry Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) required for SCR (selective catalytic reduction). SCR is one of the two methods of meeting the tight emissions standards. The other, EGR (exhaust gas recirculation), was used by most engine makers to meet Tier 3 standards effective in 2006. Although John Deere stayed with EGR to meet Tier 4 Interim regulations, SCR was the choice of most other engine makers.
Model year 2011 was the starting point for introducing engines that met Tier 4 Interim standards. Retailers, farmers and custom applicators buying select new John Deere, AGCO or Case IH equipment in the second half of 2011 got lower emissions at a significantly higher cost.
However, with that came more horsepower and better fuel efficiency for all three companies.
"Going from Tier 3 with EGR to Tier 4 with SCR, our models saw substantial fuel savings," said Joel Krause, marketing specialist, AGCO Application Equipment Division. "In the field, fuel use will be different for each piece of ground based on conditions and topography. Depending on those conditions, an operator could see a potential fuel savings of up to 17 percent. "
Krause credited the fact that SCR allows engine design to focus on creating power while the SCR cleans up the exhaust after the fact. He explained that shifting away from EGR technology allowed AGCO to increase rated power as much as 36 horsepower, depending on the machine and the model.
He noted that SCR also creates a quieter operating environment. "Depending on the chassis and whether three wheels or four, we found noise reductions of up to 10 decibels," said Krause. "A machine that produced 86 decibels last year is at 76 this year. We've had quite a few Tier 4 TerraGators running this fall and are just starting to deliver the Tier 4 RoGators. The comments that we are hearing back are how quiet the cab is, the smooth, easy start and the increased horsepower."
Mark Burns, application equipment marketing manager for Case IH, said it also had a small number of Tier 4 Interim machines go to the field this past fall. Initial response was very positive. "From the reports we've gotten back, dealing with SCR and DEF is a non-issue," said Burns. "Owners like the improved fuel economy and the ability to improve horsepower at the same time. We expect an average 10 percent improvement in fuel efficiency across all products, depending on field conditions and other factors. One of our self-propelled sprayer models jumped from 290 to 325 horsepower and used less fuel. "
MAINSTAY STILL TIER 3
GVM, Hagie and Miller St. Nazianz customers may not have seen increased power or fuel efficiency or decreased noise or emissions as suggested by those manufacturers who have switched to Tier 4 Interim engines. However, these three companies also didn't have a price increase to pay for Tier 4 engines. All three companies are still selling equipment with Tier 3-approved Cummins engines under the Transition Program for Equipment Manufacturers. It allows for a gradual switch to Tier 4 engines.
GVM did a redesign of applicators in 2010 so that its new E-series applicators can be ordered and built with a Tier 3 or a Tier 4 Interim engine from Cummins. GVM originally anticipated having to switch to Tier 4 Interim engines by 2012 for their E-series applicators, and the Tier 4 engine was extensively tested with that in mind. "But we now anticipate having enough Tier 3 engines available until we switch directly to a Tier 4 Final, said Mark Anderson, GVM president.
"We were able to make an agreement with Cummins for them to supply us with enough Tier 3 engines to last two more years or longer, said Anderson. Customer preference still appears to be for the Tier 3 because its cost is more than $10,000 less than a Tier 4 Interim engine. The benefits of a Tier 4 have to be pretty dramatic to make up that difference in original cost, he noted, and the Tier 3 engines "have proven to be quite dependable.
Jim Williams, Hagie Manufacturing, said, "We were able to pre-order enough Tier 3 engines to complete our production this year. Our design is complete and ready to integrate the Tier 4 Interim engines, but we are trying to satisfy our customer's financial demands and keep our product costs as low as possible."
Williams said cost is one of two concerns customers have voiced about Tier 4 engines. "The cost increase to our customers is quite high, and although it will affect them eventually, they want to wait as long as they can," he said. "The other factor that concerns our customers is fuel efficiency. Until we reach Tier 4 Final, the fuel numbers are not what many customers were expecting."
Tim Criddle, Miller St. Nazianz, cited customer concern for more costly technology as well. "Going forward, until the Tier 4 Interim period ends and Tier 4 Final solutions must be in place, approximately 90 percent of the machines we offer to the North American market will feature the more price competitive Tier 3 engines," he said. "Ultimately when Tier 4 Final comes into full effect, we anticipate the higher costs associated with these engines will be somewhat offset through increased operational efficiency and higher horsepower. In the meantime, we are pleased to be able to market sprayers with more price competitive Tier 3 engines, which are ultimately a great value for anyone considering a Miller sprayer or dry floater."
LOOKING TO TIER 4 FINAL
How the various companies meet Tier 4 Final is still to be seen, though several have already announced engines capable of meeting the higher standards. Cummins announced that Tier 4 Final compliant off-road engines would combine SCR and some EGR technology. Case IH and their engine supplier FPT Powertrain Technologies recently announced they would be meeting Tier 4 Final with SCR as the sole solution. However, details on the difference between it and the existing Tier 4 Interim were not available. John Deere has maintained a confidence in EGR capability to meet Tier 4 Final, but a Tier 4 Final engine has yet to be announced.
Krause is taking a wait and see approach with those proclaiming one technology or another. As with Cummins, he predicted Tier 4 Final compliance will require a combination of technologies, a higher dosing of DEF in SCR-only systems and/or some EGR and possibly the addition of a diesel particulate filter (DPF).
Although Krause said AGCO is still reviewing options, AGCO Power, AGCO's in-house engine supplier, recently previewed its first Tier 4 Final engine, the new V12. It will be in production in 2013, a year ahead of compliance. Mauno Ylivakeri, director engineering, AGCO Power, said the V12 utilizes SCR, as will all Sisu engines in Tier 4 Final. However, the conversion level of NOx has to be higher than in Tier 4 Interim.
"In some high-power density applications, a small amount of EGR may be utilized too, but only at a low level so that heat rejection to the cooling system will not be increased too much," said Ylivakeri. "DPF will not be needed because particulate matter levels will be low enough already in the cylinder."
Regardless of which method is chosen, Krause is confident that customers will see at least similar fuel efficiencies with Tier 4 Final as they are seeing with Tier 4 Interim. "Every time we made a change from one tier to the next, fuel consumption went up, but with Tier 4 Interim, we didn't see it," he recalled. "Some are still asking why we have to do this. The answer is that we can clean up the environment, offer more horsepower, a quieter engine and more efficiency. That's not a bad thing."