Data sought on AdBlue breakdowns

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According to a trade group, crane rental companies around Europe are reporting growing issues with the use of AdBlue – some suggesting almost a third of all on-road breakdowns seem to be AdBlue related. 

AdBlue is an engine additive that reduces noxious emissions by converting nitrogen oxide in the exhaust gas of diesel engines into nitrogen and water.

A key concern is that if the AdBlue system malfunctions, if the engine is too cold for example, then the crane’s engine can lose power or even shut down, with potentially dangerous consequences.

Reports suggest that similar problems can face trucks and self-propelled modular trailers (SPMTs).

In response to these concerns, the ESTA, the Europe special transport association that brings together national crane hire and heavy haulage organisations, is conducting a survey to gather data. Once it has data, it will then decide the next steps. 

The UK’s Heavy Transport Association is urging both members and non-members alike to participate in the survey here.

Some in the plant hire sector are happy to see the issue being investigated.

Nick Higgins, manager of Monmouthshire-based Raptor Plant, said: “AdBlue faults account for approximately 50% of all machine down time in my fleet of excavators. I run a mix of Hitachi, Case and Komatsu excavators and they all suffer with similar AdBlue issues.

“The cost to my business of repairing AdBlue faults is often significant. The availability of spare parts on the shelf at dealers is patchy. The cost of lost production at sites is equally significant.

“It is a technology which appears to require high levels of cleanliness both in the working environment and during the refuelling process, which is impossible to achieve with an item of construction machinery owing to the dirty and dusty environment and conditions in which they work.

“I have for a long time believed the AdBlue system to be wholly incompatible with construction machinery environments and applications.  I’m very pleased the issue is now being looked at as it’s been a thorn in my (and many others) sides for eight or so years. It must cost the industry a colossal amount of money in repairs and lost production.”

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