Electrification is key for all vehicle manufacturers using ICE engineering vehicles as emissions regulation closes in at both the local and international level, writes Stephen Irish, co-founder of Hyperdrive Innovation.
As the harmful effects of air pollution become more and more pronounced, the push for mitigation strategies has been gathering momentum. This follows a trend that has been emerging for many years now – we’re all now very familiar with the concept of the London congestion charge and catalytic converters on our diesel cars. Until recently, these policies have mainly targeted the automotive industry while non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) – everything from agricultural machinery, construction, building material machinery, industrial trucks, cranes and even inland waterway vessels have largely avoided the spotlight. But now, just like the automotive industry, NRMM is facing new challenges, driven by emissions legislation.
Just as we have seen with the automotive industry, the primary challenges caused by regulation changes are two-fold. Firstly, the European Union’s Stage V engine regulations which came into force in January, requiring the manufacture and rapid switchover to cleaner engines in all new vehicles within two years. And secondly, we are seeing the widespread adoption of ultra low emission zones (ULEZ) in cities as they look to stay within legal air pollution limits. Coupled together, these regulations are bringing air pollution from NRMM into sharp focus and encouraging companies to look for a quick but effective solution that protects them well into the future. That’s why now is the time for business to embrace electrification.
As of 1 January 2019, for the first time ever, all engines with a power range of 0 kW to higher than 560 kW are included in EU emissions legislation. This means that all new machines which fall within the scope of NRMM have had to comply with new emissions standards; Euro-Stage V.
The purpose of this far-reaching regulation is to further reduce the levels of particulate matter (PM) produced by the internal combustion engines. So whether someone is working on a construction site using ICE excavators and generators, ploughing the fields in a tractor or working in a warehouse that uses diesel forklifts, the air they breathe should be much cleaner as a result.
While being great news for air quality, the regulations have also sent shockwaves through the engineering industry. All combustion engines operating in the sector, whether they’re petrol, diesel or gas are included, and it applies to both variable-speed and constant-speed engines. For those using ICE engines, there’s no getting around the fact you will have to comply.
As stipulated in the legislation, we’re currently in a 24 month ‘grace period’. During this time, it is still possible to put engines of the previous emission standard onto the EU market. But with the prospect of low emission zone fines on the horizon, savvy business managers are getting ahead of the curve now to future proof their machinery.
Could Ultra-low emission zones reduce your profits?
The concept of low emission zones has been around for a long time – particularly in built up areas like London where drivers are used to shelling out the £11.50 a day it costs to drive through its centre – a charge that has now increased to £12.50 thanks to the introduction of London’s ULEZ. But while London’s cars and lorries have attracted most of the attention, the charges are exclusive to neither London nor traditional vehicles.
With poor air quality thought to be responsible for 40,000 premature deaths annually in the UK, all ICE engines, including those driving NRMM and materials handling equipment, are in the sights of devolved law makers.
The reasons for this broadening of focus towards NRMM, is because these vehicles play a much bigger role in air quality than you might first expect. For example, according to the London Atmospheric Emissions Inventory, construction sites alone are responsible for around 7.5% of damaging nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, 8% of large particle emissions and 14.5% of the most dangerous fine particles – the vast majority of which come from ICE engines, as opposed to dust for example. This gives an idea of the scale of the issue and doesn’t even take into account other materials handling equipment and NRMM, such as water vessels, cranes or warehousing machines.
Newcastle, Bristol, London and Manchester are just some of the local authorities looking to clamp down on dirty ICE engines. In January, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he intends to introduce a fine like the congestion charge for firms using polluting machines.
The combination of these two regulatory trends – Euro Stage V engine regulation and the rise of ULEZs – is becoming increasingly important to the vast number of industries using NRMM. There’s now huge appetite to not just comply with current regulations but also get ahead of the curve and protect businesses against future, tougher regulations.
Traditional OEMs, factory managers, construction companies and virtually every other sector that requires powertrains are now embroiled in a race to slash emissions and electrify.
This could seem to some as a daunting and potentially expensive task, however as so often is the case, doing nothing and hoping for the best isn’t a viable option. Without electrifying, businesses could face the prospect of shelling out on a daily basis to comply with ULEZ charges or installing expensive engine after-treatment that could add 50-100% to the cost of machinery.
The reduced fuel consumption and associated costs savings provide further advantages of switching to electric NRMM. Not only that, electric alternatives are quieter, require less maintenance and have higher levels of operator comfort. This clear need for better and cleaner technology is driving huge demand for zero-emission machinery in the NRMM industry.
Companies like Hyperdrive Innovation, that offer a spade-ready, bespoke and affordable alternatives that are zero emissions, future proof and trusted by household brands can be the electrification partner to navigate businesses through the rapidly changing legislative landscape.
Not only does this save many years and potentially huge sums of money on in-house R&D, but by making the speedy transition to electrification, businesses can begin to see other savings such as lowered maintenance and fuel costs almost immediately.