Since DEF has been introduced to the construction industry, it has been plagued as an unwanted burden that we all hoped would never happen. But like a flat tire along a busy interstate highway, if you didn’t prepare for it before it happened, dealing with it will be much worse than if you had. Learning how to properly handle, store, and pump DEF safely and efficiently will get your fleet running smoothly with as little downtime as possible.
ASSESS THE DAMAGE
How many pieces of your equipment currently use DEF and at what rate do the manufacturers expect their machine(s) to burn it? I have heard as little as 3 percent and as much as 7 percent ratio of fuel to DEF (at 3 percent for example; if you burn 100 gallons of fuel in a shift you will use approximately 3 gallons of DEF). This predicted rate will vary from machine to machine and also from the work load put on the machine. If you calculate on the high side (7 percent) times the machines that use DEF, you can calculate how much your daily, weekly, and monthly usage is. This will allow you to determine if you can capitalize on the savings when buying in bulk. Keep in mind that DEF has a shelf life.
WORSE THAN THOUGHT
DEF can easily be purchased in small containers (gallon-size jugs) and dispensed into a machines reservoir. This is a quick and easy solution for smaller fleets, but for large fleets, it is not cost effective. So, you sized up your DEF burning fleet, did the math, and simply using individual small containers is not feasible for a fleet of your size. You will need to purchase DEF in totes. You now need a way to unload your totes, store your totes, and dispense from your totes. Purchasing a tote of DEF (usually 200+ gallons in a poly tank /metal framework with fork lift pockets) will prove to be much cheaper by the gallon, but don’t forget to factor in the associated costs with bulk, such as a dispensing pump, nozzle, and possibly a hose reel. Due to the amount/size of the machinery you have, or simply because of the logistics, you may need to carry the DEF in a portable bulk container and dispense it into each individual machine.
LUG NUTS ARE OFF
Chances are you have someone that refuels your equipment each day/night (one of your employees or an outside vendor). The most common practice is to have the machine’s DEF container filled during the refueling process. If you use an outside vendor, they probably have already adapted their fuel truck to carry and dispense DEF. If you have your own fuel delivery truck then you will need to add a tank and pump. Because of DEF’s highly corrosive makeup, the holding tank must be stainless steel or poly. Aluminum is not compatible with DEF; it can actually eat away at the aluminum causing particles of the aluminum to contaminate the solution. Poly is the most economical option, but since molds are costly to make, you are forced to use what commercial sizes are available. Stainless steel is a great option but does add weight to the unit and can be costly.
INSTALLING THE NEW TIRE
Now that you have either had a custom stainless steel tank made or you found a commercial poly tank that will work you need to add a pumping system. Air operated diaphragm pumps are commercially available and can be operated off of the trucks air system provided it is an air brake chassis. Spring rewind hose reels rated for DEF (stainless steel internals) are a great way to carry long stretches of hose without having a tangled mess (50 feet long x ½ inch is common). DEF metered and un-metered nozzles add a safe non-drip way to dispense into storage tanks. Purge systems and air bleed-off valves can help cut down on the crystallization process that happens once DEF is exposed to oxygen.
WEATHER CAN ADD TO MISERY
DEF solution will freeze around 12 degrees F adding to the storage problems for those of us that live in colder regions. When using a stainless steel tank to carry DEF, a solution is to add an immersion heater that is powered either using the truck’s coolant circuit, trucks 12vdc power supply, or 110vac heating element that can be powered from a normal wall outlet when the truck is parked.
DOWN THE HIGHWAY
You’re getting your fleet’s DEF tanks refilled in record speed and at the most cost effective way of doing it.
About the Author:
Jeran Pollock is vice president of sales for Elliott Machine Works. For more information, visit www.elliottmachine.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, December 2017
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