Compact Equipment

SEP 2018

Compact Equipment is a magazine dedicated to equipment owners and operators of small, nimble, tool-carrying construction, landscape and ag equipment — such as skid steers, mini excavators, compact tractors, generators compressors and beyond.

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While the buzz about alternative fuel has died down with the decrease in diesel fuel prices, there is an ex- pectation that chatter will begin again when diesel prices rise. Bi- or tri-fuel add-on systems for generators are enabling diesel units to use natu- ral gas or some other variant, saving fuel costs compared to burning die- sel fuel alone. By incorporating battery packs or supercapacitors in the gen set pack- age, excess power can be captured and stored. This allows the genera- tor engine to be turned off and run off the stored power in the batter- ies or capacitor, saving on fuel con- sumption. Battery storage is not the only technology mobile genera- tor manufacturers are embracing. Telematics is becoming more and more commonplace, making sig- nificant headway in the portable power industry. "Telematics is definitely starting to take hold," says Howe. "More custom- ers see the value of it. More custom- ers are asking us every day what our telematics solutions are." With the ability to monitor the generator remotely, telematics of- fers users the opportunity to oper- ate their generator from afar. With remote message and data assessment, contractors are able to understand how their gen set is functioning at any given moment without physi- cally being in front of the machine. Taking Control Beyond these integrated technolo- gies, there is a move to make these machines as easy to operate as pos- sible for the end-user. Using com- puterized controls and simple start/ stop buttons, users can understand how to operate these mobile genera- tors at first glance. Advanced power panels are being built into compact, enclosed generators where operators can access key operations and infor- mation. "I want the customer to walk up to a machine and not have to read a book to know how to use it," says Northway. "We want to make it more use-friendly. When a customer walks up to it, it makes a lot more sense. They don't have to be an expert to know what to do." For companies using generators in remote locations, whether they are running sprinklers on a farm or empowering operations in remote oil and gas projects, perhaps no de- velopment is more exciting than the growth of remote controls. Op- erators and their service companies can receive maintenance reminders to schedule service, monitor and act upon warnings, overloads and other alerts and even resolve engine prob- lems via telematics — mentioned above — but also start and stop a unit remotely. All of these developments are sig- nificant, and they only hint at the future of power equipment advance- ments. We predict that the market for portable generators will continue to accelerate, especially with the in- creasing demand for backup genera- tors to protect against weather out- ages and grid overloads. "Storms are a big uptick for all power generation," says Northway. "The only downside to it is inventory position. We try to work with all our rental houses. Typically, you have a week before a storm is coming. We try to ramp up a little bit during the storm season. On the other hand, if that storm misses, we don't want to be stuck with fields full of inventory here either. It does drive our sales sig- nificantly, but you have to be careful." Dawn Geske is a freelancer writer for Compact Equipment . The technology of the future is heating up for the power generation industry with an eye on energy stor- age. As mobile gen set manufacturers look for ways to make their units more efficient in light of Tier 4 Final, battery storage is becoming a viable option that many are considering. "Generators don't run anywhere near their rated capacity or rated output, so there's a lot of extra energy there to be harnessed," says Todd Howe, product manager at Doosan Portable Power. By using battery packs or supercapacitors to capture the excess energy that the engine creates in these mo- bile generators, there is an ability to store power for later use. This power allows the engine to shut off and use its stored power to electrify the load at the same capacity. "If we took that power and stored it in bat- teries or supercapacitors, that would allow us to shut the engine off and run off stored energy for a period of time and then restart the engine when the batteries drain down," says Howe. Using energy storage provides a lower cost of op- eration as the engine only needs to run when power levels increase, and there is not enough saved in the battery pack or supercapacitor. Fuel consumption also decreases, and there is less stress on the en- gine over time, increasing runtime and resale value. "That could be a major impact on fuel consumption because you're going to run the engine at its most efficient operating point," says Howe. While energy storage has not gone mainstream as of yet, it is on the minds of many mobile gen set manufacturers that feel it could help displace the growing cost of diesel fuel. BATTERY PACKS AND SUPERCAPACITORS

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