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Those of us who own, operate and service mobile cranes and heavy haul equipment know these monster machines aren’t cheap. That’s why we value a proper maintenance program.

Keeping engines and machines maintained and clean means working with manufacturers and dealers to stay up-to-date on the technology that ensures reduced emissions and efficient operations without compromising power or overshooting the budget.

The new technology under the hood of just about every machine that drives our economy is a “Tier 4” engine. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has imposed strict emissions standards to reduce harmful exhaust from diesel-powered equipment.

These Tier 4 engine standards are aimed at reducing particulate matter (“PM,” black smoke/soot found in engine diesel engine exhaust) and nitrogen oxides (“NOx,” nitrogen monoxide and nitrogen dioxide).

Tier 4 requirements have been in effect for engines below 25 horsepower since 2008. Tier 4 final rules were phased in over the next several years (through 2015, depending on the power range based on the mechanical output of the engine). Today, the EPA requires all newly manufactured cranes and special hauling equipment with diesel engines to be “Tier 4 Final” compliant.

What Do Tier 4 Engines Require?

Tier 4 Final engines require diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) to operate. ISO standard 22241 defines DEF as a mixture of 32.5 percent urea and 67.5 percent de-ionized water. DEF is injected into the exhaust stream, converting smog-inducing NOx into harmless oxygen, water and nitrogen.

Properly managing engine health means keeping your DEF tank filled. Tier 4 Final machines have a gauge to tell you how much is in the tank. When a Tier 4 Final engine runs without DEF, it runs at a 90 percent reduction in power capacity. The engine will eventually shut down and need to be reset by a factory trained technician.

A Tier 4 Final engine with frozen urea may not start, or it may run on reduced power and eventually shut down. That isn’t a problem we see here in Louisiana, but if your crane is going to be operating in cold temperatures, be sure to tell your supplier. DEF freezes At 12 degrees Fahrenheit.

What about maintenance? Fleet managers and technicians maintain Tier 4 engines in much the same way as before. Most manufacturers require preventive maintenance at around 5,000 hours when the diesel particulate filter (DPF) needs servicing.

Cleaning the DPF removes oil ash that accumulates, particularly for heavy-to-severe-duty trucks in high-idle on-/off-road applications. Modern systems don’t require much of technicians beyond disposing of this ash.

What Impact Have the Changes Had?

For machine owners, the cost of owning and maintaining our specialized fleet has gone up due to Tier 4 engines’ requirement for Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel and after-treatment chemicals. However, some of these costs are offset by Tier 4’s improved fuel efficiency (estimated to be as around 5 percent greater than that of Tier 3 models).

What about those of us who own and operate legacy equipment? The EPA also created the Transition Program for Equipment Manufacturers to help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) comply with the new emission regulations.

It lets OEMs produce a certain number of units with engines meeting the previous tier standards. The program is only available for non-road (mobile) applications; you should contact your equipment provider to find out if you can purchase equipment under this program.

At the end of the day, it’s all about cleaner air.

According to the EPA, reducing NOx and PM emissions from non-road diesel engines by more than 90 percent will, by 2030, prevent:

  • 12,000 premature deaths;
  • 8,900 hospitalizations;
  • One million work days lost;
  • 15,000 heart attacks;
  • 6,000 children’s asthma-related emergency room visits;
  • 280,000 respiratory problems in children;
  • 200,000 cases of asthma symptoms in children; and
  • 5.8 million days of restricted adult activity due to respiratory symptoms.


To maximize uptime and ensure we meet our clients’ performance expectations, H. Brown maintains its fleet of mobile cranes to meet or exceed manufacturer recommendations and state and federal requirements. We know that the better we service our equipment, the better our equipment will serve you.

H. Brown is the most trusted provider of crane rental and cranes for hire in the gulf coast region. For more information, fill out our quick and easy contact form.

Our fleet of mobile cranes, ranging from 10 to 450 tons, are ready to take on projects large and small in the oilfield, petrochemical, utilities, construction, demolition, nuclear and power generation industries.

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