Caterpillar announces migration process for 4-to-6-liter Tier 4 engines to lesser-regulated countries

Marcia Gruver Doyle Pix

Cat has announced the process its dealers in lower regulated countries will use to modify 75-to-174 horsepower Tier 4 equipment migrating into their areas. This comes a year after Cat said its 175-horsepower-and-up engines would need no modification when they were sold into lower regulated countries.

Tier 4 machines, whether Interim or Final, require ultra low sulfur diesel to run properly, which complicates the sale of used Tier 4 machines into countries that do not sell ULSD. The 4-to-6- liter Cat engines use diesel oxidation catalyst and diesel particulate filters, plus have passive regeneration systems with back pressure valves. Cat machines that that are powered by engines that fit into this engine size category include the 420F backhoe, 312E excavator and 924K wheel loader.

In what Cat terms a “authorized modification” process, dealers in receiving countries will remove aftertreatment components, install a muffler, change the engine software and may install additional optional fuel filtration – changes that will enable Tier 4 machines in this size class to be fully productive even when using fuel with higher sulfur content. It also means these machines will receive a new engine label, one that will prevent it from being sold back into higher regulated areas, primarily North America and Europe. Only dealers in lower regulated countries will do the modification; by law, U.S. dealers are prevented from taking emissions components off machines. Cat declined to detail how much this modification will cost.

Close watch on Tier 4

Because of their on-board telematics, Caterpillar (along with its competitors) can keep close watch on Tier 4 machines. “There’s more than 178,000 Caterpillar Tier 4 products in the field today, with 210 million-plus total machine and engine hours,” says Mary Roethler, Caterpillar’s Tier 4 Dealer Readiness manager. “Some of these engines are close to reaching 20,000 hours.”

Caterpillar says it is essential to both anticipate and track where its 75-to 174-horsepower Tier 4 machines will land by model, especially as they migrate to lower regulated countries. “Right now, our No. 1 model going into these countries is the 320-size excavator,” Roethler says. Since machines in the 75-to 174-horsepower size range converted to Tier 4 Interim in 2012, the population of used machines migrating to lesser regulated countries will only grow.

“Being able to predict where these machines would end up in the second life has really helped us understand which dealers needed to be ready for them,” says Bob Christmas, senior market professional, Caterpillar.

Cat says it’s in the first phase of a three-phase approach. This first phase identified dealers in lower regulated countries most likely to receive the bulk of the machines. The second phase will involve additional products and dealers plus repair and overhaul options. Phase three will kick in with Tier 4 Final products. “Our goal is to have the dealer in these lower regulated countries become the local Tier 4 modification expert,” says Christmas. “There are several layers of complexity involved, including emissions regulations in the lower regulated country.” 

It’s also essential to educate potential buyers that a modification will be required, Christmas says. Because of this, Cat is developing a web-based system where users can put in the engine serial number prefix, and find out whether it’s a Tier 4 engine. “You could be at an auction and quickly know whether the machine up for sale has a Tier 4 engine or not,” Christmas says.