A Guide to PC-11 in the Heavy Equipment Industry

Brian Humphrey, OEM Technical Liaison,
Petro-Canada Lubricants,
Special Collaboration


Brian Humphrey, OEM Technical Liaison, Petro-Canada Lubricants, Suncor, discusses the impact that new industry regulations will have on construction businesses.

This December will see the introduction of PC-11 engine oils, the largest overhaul in industry specifications witnessed in North America in a decade. The changes are designed to drive improvements in fuel economy and emissions as well as greater engine performance and durability. But, with just seven months until these new oils are available, now is the time for heavy equipment operators to prepare for the transition.

Despite the impending deadline, we have seen that more needs to be done to raise awareness of the new regulations. There is a knowledge gap in how PC-11 products will differ from their predecessors, the technology behind them, and the implications for both on-road and off-road operators. It is our mission to address this through our Here Comes the Future education campaign.

What is different about PC-11 oils?
Some PC-11 oils are notably thinner, or lower viscosity (specifically FA-4 category oils), compared to those being used in the market at present. This reduces the amount of viscous drag from the oil in the engine, allowing them to run more efficiently and use less fuel. PC-11 oils will also offer greater levels of protection, which will reduce vehicle downtime – a major source of financial drain in the commercial equipment sector.

This will also be supported by better oxidation stability, resistance to aeration and increased shear stability, which will all provide enhanced performance and greater hardware protection over time.
It is crucial that construction fleet managers have a comprehensive understanding of the PC-11 category, which will, for the first time, consist of two tiers of heavy duty engine oils: API CK-4 and FA-4.

  • PC-11A (CK-4) engine oils will be an upgrade to the current lubricant specification and be completely backwards compatible with older diesel engine oil categories, while offering gains in fuel efficiency and emissions reduction
  • PC-11B (FA-4) engine oils will have all the benefits of PC-11A (CK-4) oils, plus optimized viscosity grades for enhanced fuel economy, which supports the reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. However, these oils will have limited backwards compatibility because some older engines are not designed to operate with such low HTHS viscosity oils.

We know the requirement for durability is crucial to the heavy-equipment construction sector. The FA-4 category oils are being designed to provide fuel economy above and beyond the current CJ-4 and CK-4 classification through the use of lower viscosity fluids, while still maintaining the durability of engines that operators need.

Understanding the impact on your business
While every construction business will be affected by the introduction of PC-11 specifications, the impact will vary depending on the size and type of the fleet.

Many construction fleets are comprised of a range of models of varying ages, and so there may not be a uniform oil solution for all vehicles, and managers will need to understand the best solutions across their operations to witness the true benefit of the new specifications.

However, while multiple solutions may be required, upgrading oils can be achieved at relatively low cost and in a short timeframe, offering greater fuel efficiency and providing a faster return on investment than purchasing new vehicles.

As the API FA-4 category oils have been specially designed to cope with the pressures of hotter-burning, more fuel efficient and low emissions diesel engines currently in development, this category is less likely to have an immediate impact on the majority of construction managers as the backwards compatibility of CK-4 oils will still suit their fleets. It is expected that off-road OEMs will lag behind in the adoption of FA-4 oils since lower viscosity oils and increased fuel economy was initially requested by the on-road OEMs.

However, for those managers planning to overhaul their heavy equipment fleet and adopt newer models in coming years, it is important to consider how to maximise return on investment – something that FA-4 will certainly contribute to.
It is recommended that fleet operators monitor and regularly analyze used oil to understand the optimal oil drain intervals for their specific vehicles and operating conditions to ensure that optimum efficiency is achieved. OEMs will be providing recommendations on operating range ahead of the first licence date of December 1st 2016, but first-hand analysis will offer invaluable insight.

Time to prepare
While OEMs are currently working on their own specifications associated with CK-4 and FA-4, which will be revealed in the coming months, it is essential that construction operators begin preparations now to ensure that they are suitably equipped ahead of the December 2016 deadline.
This change is not only an opportunity to improve the efficiency and carbon footprint of their business, but also a chance to recognize the potential to cut costs and increase the profitability of fleet operations. As with all business decisions, clear understanding and early adoption could result in a genuine competitive edge.

For more information and to answer the common questions about the introduction of PC-11 specification oils visit www.herecomespc11.com.


Cet article est également publié en français


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