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Podcast

Understanding Diesel Emission System Maintenance

Learn about aftertreatment systems, discover the complications brought on by evolving regulations, and the importance of understanding diesel emission system maintenance

Episode 276: Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in the world of diesel emission system maintenance? Buckle up, as we sit down with Karlis Banis, a true industry expert and a customer care and mechatronics product business manager at Dinex Emissions.

He walks us through the labyrinth of aftertreatment systems, discovering the complications brought on by evolving regulations and the importance of a keen eye to stay compliant. Karlis emphasizes the need for a deeper understanding of potential hiccups in the intricate system and the impact of accurate diagnosis. Plus, he sheds light on the pivotal role truck manufacturers’ service manuals play in preventative maintenance.

Karlis also dives into the practice of reverse engineering, illustrating how it helps replicate software that interacts with the engine control unit. He talks about how Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are trying to reclaim market share by pushing software updates – a move that poses significant hurdles for aftermarket NOx Sensors.

Listen as Karlis reveals how Dinex is rising to this challenge through relentless product innovation and business development. From handling claims to educating customers about the setbacks of ignoring preventative maintenance, this episode will teach you everything you need to know about diesel emission system maintenance!

Learn about the labyrinth of aftertreatment systems, discovering the complications brought on by evolving regulations and the importance of a understanding diesel emission system maintenance

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Transcript of Episode

Jamie Irvine:

You are listening to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. I’m your host, Jamie Irvine, and this is the place where we have conversations that empower heavy-duty people.

Karlis Banis:

Hi, my name is Karlis Banis. I am customer care and mechatronics product business manager at Dinex Emissions.

Jamie Irvine:

Welcome to another episode of The Heavy Duty Parts Report. My name is Jamie Irvine and I’m your host. I’m really excited to have Karlis with me today to talk about diesel emission systems and aftertreatment products. We’re going to get into the trends related to these products in the industry right now in 2023, and I’m excited about getting his perspective because of the global nature of the company that he works for. So let’s get started. Karlis, welcome to The Heavy Duty Parts Report. So glad to have you here.

Karlis Banis:

Thanks for having me.

Jamie Irvine:

Let me ask you something from your perspective. You get to work with people all over the world and diesel emission systems have been on trucks now 16, 17 years. We see additional regulation coming in places like in North America and the United States with the EPAs new regulations coming in 2027. So we know that as long as there are ICE vehicles, these systems aren’t going anywhere. What do you see as one of the trends as it relates to maintenance right now in 2023?

Karlis Banis:

So as of now, since we are in 2023, as you just said, aftertreatment systems in diesel engines are getting ever more complex. And like you also said, this trend is not about to reverse itself anywhere soon because of these regulations, emission regulations that are getting ever more stringent, we are seeing that we need to utilize a lot more aftertreatment technology in the systems to keep on par with the regulations. So back in the day when we first started introducing the first aftertreatment systems, those are quite simple, either a simple DPF system or an SCR system. But nowadays it is not enough with just one or the other. We need to use the full range of all the after treatment components that we know of and to monitor all those components and to ensure that they are operating efficiently, we need to introduce evermore mechatronics components into these systems such as injectors, pumps, control units, other components, sensors.

Whenever we have a system that consists of all of these components together, then it becomes ever more crucial to follow the maintenance of these systems. And we see now that because these systems are so complicated at this time, then maintenance becomes a real issue because there’s so many items to maintain. And not just that, but also what happens to one of them has the effect on another. And so in a sense, if you are having problems somewhere in your engine, if you are having problems somewhere in your exhaust system, during time it can grow serious enough as to throw out the all aftertreatment system rather just one or the other component of it.

Jamie Irvine:

Let me ask you something. When it comes to this complexity, there’s a lot to break down on what you just said. So first of all, do you think that it is really an issue with the quality of the technology that’s in these systems that is the problem that causes failure? Or do you think that it’s more that there is a lack of ability to diagnose these issues and this creates a compounding effect that then causes a failure in the system? What is more likely there?

Karlis Banis:

I think the technology is definitely not to blame here. The technology is up to date. It’s what we have at this time. It’s sufficient for all of these tasks. But the problem here is, I see it is something along the lines from what you said is that perhaps sometimes we have lack of capability to diagnose these issues and over time they just grow into an ever more bigger problem. So this is the issue in my view.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay. So when you’re working with your customers and your customer’s customers of course, because you’re selling through distribution, what is the strategy? What’s the best strategy right now to help customers, especially the end users, the technicians that have to work on the equipment in order to empower them to be able to diagnose these systems correctly? What is your opinion on how we should go about that?

Karlis Banis:

I think the first, the most important thing is to actually be aware all of the problems that could happen in the system and how they affect the other components. Once you are aware of these problems, you start to get a tendency to know where to look for them. For example, we know that an oil leak, a very simple issue in the system could become a problem because it has the potential to ruin the DPF, to ruin the catalysts, to ruin the NOx sensor. And afterwards, when the DPF fails completely, it has the potential to ruin all of the system. And it could be very easy to check for oil leaks while doing maintenance on your collector or on your turbo just to see if it’s leaking oil in places where it shouldn’t be. So some people have a really hard time grasping that concept. How do we actually find out that we have this problem? It could also be as simple as while doing the DPF replacement or reconditioning to simply check on the DPF surface, if you have any oil stain, if you have any coolant stains, once you know where to look for these problems, you are better informed about what are the potential causes for them.

Jamie Irvine:

One of the things I understood is that when the OEMs first started rolling out these systems go back 10, 15 years ago, there was this idea that these systems were going to be able to run for hundreds of thousands of kilometers or miles before ever needing any maintenance. We have the benefit now of looking backwards. I think we know that that’s not true. I think we know that that maintenance is required. So how do you educate customers on what kinds of preventative maintenance they should be engaging in?

Karlis Banis:

To be honest, the best place to look for what kind of preventative maintenance is required is actually the service manual of the truck manufacturer. Because the manufacturer has been designing the system, the engineers have had the calculations on the table for each and every component. So they are well aware of what is the service time and service limit for each of the components. And all that information is carefully listed in the manual. Now of course, not all of these shops or all of the customers have actually the access to these service repair manuals. In this way we try to accumulate some sort of experience background, some sort of knowledge base from which to operate and give our suggestions to our customers based on what we have found in the field in the past.

Jamie Irvine:

So that’s a good point because when you get your service manual, that’s of course a description for that vehicle, but it doesn’t necessarily take into account vocation. So you could have one vehicle manufactured to a certain spec doing over the highway kind of type miles, they’re out on the highway, long miles pulling in one environment, and then you might have that same truck, but it’s rigged now for logging or oil and gas or mining or off-road applications. So same manufacturer, same engine, same aftertreatment system, two completely different vocations. So how do you go about educating customers on how they can customize their preventative maintenance plan to the vocation that they’re in?

Karlis Banis:

Well, this really has to do with a lot of experience that we have acquired, a lot of knowledge. There is no easy way of looking at it. It’s simply taking what we know, applying to each and every situation, looking back what other experience we have had with similar customers and extending that, those observations to our potential customers if necessary.

Jamie Irvine:

I think good record keeping is also really important in this. One of the things I’ve seen, for example, when you’re measuring your DPFs and you’re weighing them, before a clean, after a clean, making sure that you understand how many miles or how kilometers are put on that vehicle if the vocation is going to change. Do you have any other vehicles in the fleet that worked in a similar vocation in the past? All of that data seems to me really important in helping fleets make more educated decisions. Would you agree with that?

Karlis Banis:

No, definitely sir. Yes.

Jamie Irvine:

Okay, great. Well, let’s end our first segment on a note where we both have complete agreement. Let’s hear from our sponsors. We’ll be right back. This episode of The Heavy Duty Parts Report is brought to you by Find at Parts your ultimate destination for heavy-duty truck and trailer parts. Discover a vast range of parts at finditparts.com. Don’t spend hours a day looking for parts. Instead visit finditparts.com and get them right away. Parts availability and quality have a big influence on fleets and owner operator’s total cost of operation, if they can’t find a part, it means more downtime. If they install a low quality part and it fails, it means even more costs like tow bills, hotels, meals for the driver and lost revenue. That’s why we recommend Sampa. They manufacture a wide range of advanced parts for commercial vehicles. Their website has an intelligent product search engine and broad coverage of suspension, steering and fifth wheel components.

Expect more. Expect Sampa. Visit sampa.com today we’re back from our break and before the break it was good to talk to you about some of the trends in the industry in 2023 of aftertreatment systems. We’ve talked a little bit about the importance of preventative maintenance. I’d like to learn a little bit more about your product line. So first of all, can you talk to us about the product line as a whole? And then I think you wanted to get into some specifics. So first of all, kind of give us an overview for those who don’t know what your product line encompasses.

Karlis Banis:

Dinex was founded in 1992 by Grata and Jorgenson in Denmark, and it started purely as an aftermarket manufacturer for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. And over time we have been expanding into on an international scale, not only that, but we have also expanded to the OEM business and that is to prove our customers that we are not only on par with the technology, but we can also compete with the OEMs in terms of utilizing the same technology that we have in house for both OEM and aftermarket productions. We came to North America in approximately 2011, so that is some time away from foundation of the company. So by the time when we came to North America, we were always already established in Europe with quite a foothold. So we are now facing the challenge to establish a similar foothold also in North America. As we spoke previously, then with the introduction of these new aftertreatment systems, which has also been a part of our product line, we are extensively manufacturing and researching all the aftertreatment components, DLCs, SCRs, DPFs, those come also certified to prove that we know actually what we do. And because of all of these components, we see that as we spoke, the trend is to include ever more mechatronics components in these systems. So this is really our newest product line that has been most recent development to add one by one, starting with the NOx sensor, many different mechatronics components such as the temperature sensor, also the pressure sensor. Then one of our recent developments is also the DEF pump, DEF injector, and we are of course extensively looking forward to developing some more.

Jamie Irvine:

Right. So you’re looking to provide a complete after treatment line. What about things like clamps and gaskets and those other auxiliary parts that are very important when changing some of the larger components like a DPF?

Karlis Banis:

Sure enough, we have plenty of those in our catalog. This is a sort of sideline to our main production,

Jamie Irvine:

Right? But important when changing out those components. The fact that you also manufacture the SCR is significant too, because not all of the people in North America who sell aftertreatment are able to offer the SCR. So that’s good, especially with that EPA regulation coming in 2027. I understand that one of the ways the manufacturers are going to go is to double the SCRs in those systems. Okay. So let’s talk specifically about sensors. You listed quite a few of them, but let’s focus in on your NOx sensor. What particularly makes your NOx sensor, let’s say, different or differentiated from other people who are manufacturing that same sensor for the same application?

Karlis Banis:

Well, the first thing I would like to mention is that we have been in this business, we’ve been one of the first ones to actually offer an aftermarket NOx sensor. So we have a little bit experience behind us, and we have been well aware of all of the problems that are happening in the market. We are well aware of all of the issues that are causing those, and we have had enough time to actually take a good step back and look at what have been the real issues and how we can solve them. Well, the NOx sensors could have, I would really like to split those into two different problems. The first one is quite a painful one, and the second one is a logical problem. So the painful problem is really the software issue. And because we are an aftermarket player for the NOx sensor, then it is only natural that we are the direct competitor of the OE manufacturers.

And the OE manufacturers are also the ones who design the software that is used inside the NOx sensor because it’s considered one of the smart sensors. And that’s because it has its own little computer that does its own little calculations and then its own communication with the engine control unit. So that means the NOx sensor is quite an advanced component. It is not your just through the elementary sensor. And that requires a specific software, which is specific not only between different manufacturers, but also between different models with the same manufacturer. And the way how aftermarket works with these sensors is that they are developed using what’s called reverse engineering. So that is taking an existing NOx sensor, plugging that to the truck and listening to the communication. And then from the communication that you have listened to, you are trying to replicate the software, which is causing this communication to happen.

And the first aftermarket NOx sensors were not really good at this job. And another issue was that over time, as the aftermarket knocks sensor business grew, then the OEMs started to find ways how to actually win back some of that market share. And one of that those ways was through the software updates where they would issue an update package that is delivered to the truck. It is then installed, and as a result of this updates, the aftermarket NOx sensor would cease to function. And so this was really a painful topic. A lot of after aftermarket NOx sensors were stopping to operate and nobody knew what the problem is. So that’s why many customers chose to go with the OE rather than the aftermarket. And the second issue, of course, is the maintenance topic. And because of the importance of preventative maintenance, especially with the mechatronics, then we know that all kinds of issues that can happen with the engine, that can happen with the aftertreatment system, all of that has an effect on the NOx sensor. And it just so happens that the no sensor is one of the most fragile components inside the aftertreatment system. So it’ll be the first one that will feel the direct effect of these issues that could be caused by lack of preventative maintenance.

Jamie Irvine:

Yeah, that makes sense. How did your company go about solving some of these issues and be able to bring out a NOx sensor that was going to work for people in the long term?

Karlis Banis:

So really the way how we proceeded was to take the way of learning from our past mistakes. And we have taken enough time been in the business for enough time to actually try and do continuous development, not only to the product itself, but also to the business. And from the business side, what we have really put our focus on is the handling of the business and handling of the claims, and also helping our customers learn and become more aware about all of the issues that can happen with an NOx sensor, how to prevent them, how to correct them, and what to do in each situation. Then from the product itself, then it has been the result of continuous improvement. We have updated not only our hardware, but also our software, and we have become smarter in just the same way how the OEMs have become smarter in figuring out how to bring back some market share. Now we have done the same with our newest generation NOx sensor. So we hope it brings great success to us.

Jamie Irvine:

And I really like the two-tiered approach, right? Because yes, there’s a product solution there, but there’s also that education training and collaborative work with the customer to give them a solution. And so I can see how when you bring those two together, it’s made the product a much, much more successful. Well, I want to thank you for taking some time to talk to us about aftertreatment. It’s an ongoing challenge for fleets to keep their cost of operation down. We recognize preventative maintenance is a key to that, but we also need good partnerships with our supply network. And so we really appreciate what you’re doing for the trucking industry. Thank you so much for being on the show. I appreciate it.

Karlis Banis:

Thank you. It was my pleasure.

Jamie Irvine: So if you’d like to learn more about these products, go to dinexemissions.com. Links will be in the show notes. Thank you again for listening to today’s episode. If you have not already done so, head over to heavydutypartsreport.com and make sure you follow the show. You can sign up to our weekly email so you never miss out on any great content. If you prefer to listen to the podcast on your favorite podcast player, you can follow for free wherever you get your podcast. And if you like the video version, head over to YouTube and give us a subscribe. As always, we like to encourage you to be heavy-duty. Thanks for listening.

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