Van dealers should start to follow in the footsteps of their truck counterparts and take the opportunity to retail AdBlue to the increasing number of operators of Euro 6 vans requiring regular AdBlue refills.
In recent years vehicle manufacturers have had to focus on minimising harmful nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emissions released from diesel vehicles. As part of a solution to the reduction of ‘NOx’ emissions, the technology known as Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) has been introduced as a successful way of bringing diesel engines up to the suitable standards.
SCR Technology is used along with AdBlue to reduce ‘NOx’ emissions. The SCR Technology injects small amounts of AdBlue into the flow of exhaust gasses, which prevents harmful emissions being released into the environment. The concept has been used for many years in Heavy Goods Vehicles, but is now being introduced into vans from Euro 6.
The AdBlue Opportunity
To reach the Euro 4, 5 and 6 standards, a truck will use relatively large quantities of AdBlue making it a ‘consumable item’ for the truck operator. Consequently, the AdBlue tank is accessible and easy to refill. However, depending on the size of van, it is expected that AdBlue could become a service item that will be refilled during routine servicing, rather than at the petrol station.
Some vans won’t need it at all, for example the 1.5 litre Transit Connect, the Kangoo and Citan, although others in their category that need Adblue will treat it as a service item. For example, a Citroen Berlingo Euro 6 is fitted with a 17-litre tank, giving a range or around 14,000 miles which means that dealers will be offering the top up as a chargeable consumable.
For larger vans, the operator will have to refill the tank themselves. For example, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has an 18-litre AdBlue tank, giving it a range of some 3,600 miles. With service intervals of up to 36,000 miles, it is likely that the driver will be familiar with the refilling of the AdBlue tank.
For these larger vans, where AdBlue is treated as a consumable, dealers may follow the car servicing approach and offer a ‘drain and refill’ service to make sure that the AdBlue and container are clean and free from contaminates.
This may mean more frequent visits to the dealer for those operators not comfortable with buying storing and refilling the AdBlue system.
Volkswagen tell us that it won’t be a service item on any of their vans but for those customers that don’t want to do this themselves, the Van Centre network will offer a while you wait, no booking required solution. It is likely that VW dealers will offer this top up service every time a relevant vehicle comes into the workshop whether for service or repair.
AdBlue Storage Issues
Storing AdBlue is not a straightforward issue. Due to its corrosive nature, AdBlue can only be stored in a certain tank that is specially designed for AdBlue.
There are many different ways to dispense AdBlue into vans and trucks. The simplest way to do this without a doubt is from a bulk storage tank with an automatic cut off nozzle. The additional benefits this brings is piece of mind that the product quality is a good as the day it was produced and will remain that way assuming it has a regular turn over, it is protected from the weather and climate. The system level can also be monitored to ensure you never run out AdBlue.
Other methods of delivering from packed AdBlue in cans, drums and IBCs do have their place in the market and when best practise is used will supply a solution for many sectors but do come with risks, hassle and possible mess.
It doesn’t take much to contaminate the AdBlue, there are many examples of the wrong pumping equipment used, swapped over from fuel pumps, watering cans used to transfer AdBlue from drums or IBCs into the AdBlue vehicle tank via a multi used funnel. This can lead to expensive down time, mounting costs NOT covered under warranty – all of which can be eliminated.
Some bulk storage tanks can also be of concern, unless it is a dedicated AdBlue tank built using approved material, fittings, pipes and pumps it will affect the specification of the AdBlue so it is important to ensure your bulk tank has the approval of your “VDA approved” AdBlue supplier.
Commenting on their new Smart Plus System, Chris Haynes, GreenChem Managing Director, said: “With 11 years of experience in manufacturing and supplying AdBlue behind us, we have developed a new AdBlue storage and delivery system. This makes us the first AdBlue supplier in Europe to design and build their own in-house tank. The system will be more reliable and robust than anything else in the AdBlue market with optional capacities of 3350 litres and 5000 litres respectively and a width of 112 cm, they are found to be operationally suitable for the operators across Europe. These two new tanks will complement our already extensive AdBlue tank range.”
All the tanks supplied by Greenchem, from a 2,500 litre to a 15,000 litre tank have built-in Telemetry management. “It’s key benefit is that all our systems report daily so we can ‘read’ the systems GreenChem AdBlue levels remotely and refill as and when, necessary – without the customer having to do anything!” concludes Haynes.
AdBlue Supply Options
It is expected that whilst the numbers of Euro 6 SCR vans on the UK’s roads are limited, dealers will be resorting to using 5 to 10 litre cans to meet their customers’ needs.
For a dealership with a workshop servicing an increasing number of cars and vans, the 5- or 10-litre can may not prove the best way to store and dispense the liquid. Citroen informed us that the company will be, “making a bulk AdBlue storage tank available to dealers in due course as the demand for the product grows.”
Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealers are already ahead of their car/van dealer competitors in this area, since they look after both trucks and vans. Adblue is already available from dealers under a Mercedes-Benz part number in 1.89-litres top up bottles, 5-litre containers, 10- and 20-litre cans and even in 200-litre barrels. Some Mercedes-Benz commercial vehicle dealers already purchase Adblue in bulk or IBCs from alternative suppliers and have petrol pump style dispensers.
Some specialist Volkswagen commercial vehicle dealers have already taken the plunge too, the company tells us, “Some dealers have purchased AdBlue in bulk with specialist workshop equipment to pump the required amount of AdBlue into the tanks quickly and without any spillage. If there is sufficient demand more sites will go down this route to reduce their costs.”
It’s clear that there are alternatives to storing and dispensing AdBlue that are more cost effective than throwaway plastic cans.
For professional operation, using larger volumes of AdBlue, secure, on-site storage is the answer. This ensures that the environmental impact of the liquid is minimised from spills and remnants in multiple small containers.
For volume users, customers can typically enter supply contracts, to include tank and AdBlue pump sets as part of the contract 3 – 5 years agreements. Purchases of AdBlue in bulk can be made, subject to minimum orders above 2,000 litres. Alternatively 200 litre drums and 10 litre tubs should meet the needs of most dealerships in these relatively early stages.
According to the van manufacturers, there may be a number of van dealers installing an AdBlue dispensing unit any time soon, so if you are planning a new workshop, then it is worth including a system in the specification and layout.