Underground Market Faces Tier 4 Equipment Adjustments In 2011

By Jeff Griffin, Senior Editor | April 2010 Vol. 65 No. 4
The Cummins model QSB6.7 with a displacement of 6.7 and available power rating ranging from 155 – 300 hp.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Interim Tier 4 emission standards for off-road equipment powered by diesel engines of 175 to less than 750 horsepower will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2011.

From that date through Tier 4’s final implementation in 2014, the equipment marketplace will begin to change for equipment manufacturers and dealers and their customers. Equipment with Tier 4 engines will cost more, they also must use “cleaner” grades of oil and fuel than pre-Tier 4 engines, and Tier 4 engines will require maintenance of emission filters that older engines do not have.

Machines affected that are routinely used in underground construction include trenchers, excavators, horizontal directional drill (HDD) units, vibratory plows, dozers, vacuum excavation equipment and various types of support equipment.

Ramifications of Interim Tier 4
David Campbell, a Ditch Witch project manager, believes it is important that all equipment users are aware of the ramifications Tier 4 compliance will bring.

The January 2011 Tier 4 date, he explains, applies to engine manufacture, not machine sale or delivery. OEMs will be allowed to build machines in 2011 that use engines made in 2010 if previous-year engines were purchased using “normal” inventory practices -- stockpiling old engines to delay Tier 4 transition is not allowed. Also, some OEMs may choose to use the EPA “flexibility” rules allowing purchase and use of noncompliant engines in limited numbers.

“Therefore,” says Campbell, “the actual transition date that customers see will be fuzzy. For these reasons, I doubt there will be year-end closeouts, but rather more likely increased demand in 2010 and early 2011 in an effort to avoid price increases.”

It also is important to understand the equipment in service prior to Jan. 1, 2011, are not affected by the Tier 4 transition; equipment now in use may continue to be used on projects after Jan. 1, 2011, can be traded in on new equipment and be bought and sold in the marketplace.

Manufacturers are at work now making sure their current equipment lines will accommodate Tier 4 engines.

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