Cleaning Up

As the swing towards environmentally friendly solutions continues to gather momentum, Cummins is shifting gears to stay ahead of the curve. As a result, forward thinking companies like Energy Logistix are availing of the red engine maker’s offering of Euro 6 versions of its heavy-duty X15 powerplant to help them in their ‘clean ‘n’ green’ quests.

There can be no denying that fossil fuel burning engines are steadily on the way out the back door, with a range of electric options steadily spooling up to take their place.

However, while this snail’s pace shift in reliance on new power sources plays out over the next few decades, the interim measure is to ensure the ongoing diesel donks are developed to the pinnacle of possibility in terms of fuel efficiency and minimal emissions.

For its part, Cummins South Pacific has been evaluating Euro 6 engines in Australia for the past four years. Over that time, X15 Euro 6 engines have chalked up millions of kilometres in a wide range of applications and environments, hauling a range of combinations including single trailer, B-double and roadtrain.

Importantly, Cummins has been able to meet the stringent Euro 6 standards without the need for exhaust gas recirculation (EGR), which the company was keen to avoid due the issues it caused in the past.

Reduced emissions start with Cummins’ Extreme Pressure Injection (XPI) system that is claimed to reduce noise and improve combustion efficiency and fuel economy; while a relatively simple wastegate turbocharger is also used rather than the complex and potentially problematic variable geometry turbo (VGT).

It also utilises selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and a diesel particulate filter (DPF) combined in a single housing known as Single Module Technology, which is said to be more compact, lighter and stronger than separate module designs.

The Cummins X15 Euro 6 is available in two variants known as Performance Series and Efficiency Series. The differences between the two comprise altered hardware including intake air management and compression ratios along with tailored computer software.

The Performance Series has ratings ranging from 525 to 625hp, with peak torque of 1,850 to 2,050lb-ft, while the Efficiency Series features ratings ranging from 460 to 550hp, with peak torque between 1,650 and 2,050lb-ft.

The top Efficiency Series rating of 550hp accompanied by 1,850 to 2,050lb-ft of torque was previously the preserve of the 600hp class.

New Kenworth C509 specified for roadtrain application.

According to Cummins, this rating is ideal for B-double prime movers with down-sped (lower 100km/h cruising RPM) drivelines, to promote fuel efficiency without compromising performance and trip times.

This variant is intended for mating with Eaton’s UltraShift Plus 18-speed automated manual transmission (AMT), while the Performance Series, which is intended for vocational and heavy haulage roles, is best suited to the Eaton 18-speed manual ‘box.

One of the early adopters of Cummins X15 Euro 6 technology is Energy LogistiX (ELX), a multi-million dollar transport and logistics company founded by Co-Directors Jo Williamson and her son, Shaun, just over ten years ago. Jo worked with her father at his transport company and also worked for some other large trucking companies before starting her own business, with Shaun joining her soon after.

“At the time I was working on oil and gas rigs and I suggested to mum that she should focus her efforts in the resources space because I’d identified a gap in the market at that time,” Shaun says. “Not long after I came onboard as a partner in the business, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

According to Shaun, the growth of the business has been phenomenal – in the vicinity of 20 to 30 per cent, year-on-year.

Today the company runs a fleet of prime movers and has a subcontractor base of roughly equal size.

The company fleet comprises a couple of Western Stars and the same amount of a European brand, with the majority being Kenworths.

“Our fleet of double and triple roadtrain prime movers is primarily Kenworth with Cummins engines and we have a very strong relationship with our local dealer CMV in Adelaide,” Shaun says.

As for the reasoning behind choosing to purchase Euro 6 compliant prime movers well before the introduction of equivalent Australian legislation, Shaun says it’s all about going on the front foot and leading by example.

“My mum is nearing retirement age and she wanted to take a step back so early last year we sat down together to work out a direction for the business,” Shaun explains. “I have two young kids and the vision we had as a family was to build a sustainable generational business, so we needed to work out how the next five to ten years in our industry would look and where we would fit in.”

Shaun says that’s when the issues of sustainability and reducing emissions came into sharp focus, including increasing technological innovation and efficiencies in the company’s truck combinations and other areas of the business.

“One of the imperatives that came out of this was that any new trucks we purchase from now on will be Euro 6 compliant at a minimum,” he says.

Kenworth was quick to come onboard with the idea and in turn got Cummins involved.

“All the parties including Kenworth, Cummins and CMV got involved and found out what we needed, with the end result being that we were able to take delivery of two new Kenworth C509 roadtrain prime movers fitted with X15 Euro 6 engines,” Shaun recalls.

“We’re one of the few companies in Australia that has adopted these new Euro 6 engines for the heavier end of the load capacity – which is a 130-tonne payload.”

Shaun mentions that the company does a lot of carrying to remote mine sites across Australia which demands ultimate reliability.

He says that one of its key customers is right behind the push to develop a sustainable transport business and industry, adding impetus to ELX’s efforts.

“They backed the idea of us trialling one of these trucks in our operations which enabled us to move forward with the concept,” Shaun says.

Perhaps going some way to explaining why not every transport operator is keen to jump aboard the Euro 6 bandwagon just yet, Shaun mentions that from a financial perspective he believes there is no tangible benefit from using Euro 6 compared to Euro 5 compliant engines.

“From our experience the new Euro 6 engines are using a fair bit more AdBlue than our Euro 5 Cummins engines which essentially means the Euro 6 engines are running cooler, and of course, there are less emissions coming out,” Shaun says.

“From a fuel usage perspective, to be honest, we haven’t seen any noticeable benefits yet but they are still breaking in with about 80,000km on the clocks, so we are hoping to see a small improvement in fuel economy once they are fully run in.”

Nevertheless, Shaun says that he feels the benefits of running cleaner engines will play out over the longer term and that he is proud to be an early adopter of the Euro 6 technology.

“I’m young and an innovative thinker and my goal is to push this space forward, whereas generally the industry isn’t quite so proactive in this area,” he says. “There are a lot of bigger companies these days and many of the medium-sized private enterprises like ours don’t exist anymore, while those that are still operating generally have older people running them who tend to not want to change the way they do things unless it provides a cost reduction for the business.”

Then there are the big multinationals who are investing in European trucks in the Euro 6 space in Australia.

“But for us,” Shaun continues, “we’ve always tried to invest in Australian-made products where possible, and for us that’s the Kenworth product.”

For the moment, it’s trailblazing companies like ELX that are paving the way for the Euro 6 equivalent emissions standards this country will have in the near future.

The advantage for companies such as Cummins, the world’s largest independent powertrain manufacturer, is that having forward thinking companies willing to bite the bullet with the Euro 6 engines means the technology will have many runs on the board when it comes time for the mainstream rollout.

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