A Canadian exhaust systems supplier has built a worldwide business on the premise that the back end of the engine is as important as the front. Lorie Russo reports on Engine Control Systems.
If you want pollution control and total exhaust solutions for your company’s vehicles, there is one supplier to call: Engine Control Systems (ECS), based in Newmarket, Ontario, and with sales offices in the United States, Sweden and South Africa. A supplier to OEMs and the after-market, ECS designs and develops the products that promote efficient and clean operation of the engines that power growth. For nearly 20 years, the mining and materials-handling sectors in North America, Europe and elsewhere around the world have specified ECS products as factory-installed components on production vehicles or as dealer-installed options. ECS has gained a worldwide reputation. Forty-five percent of its sales come from North America, 45 percent from Europe and 10 percent from the Pacific Rim. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Lubrizol Corporation. Founded in 1928, Lubrizol is known for its tag line, “Fluid Technologies for a Better World(tm).”
Over the past 20 years, ECS has pioneered the engine emissions upgrade market, commonly referred to as the retrofit market. ECS stresses the benefits of an emissions upgrade practice. Many diesel engines will provide 20 years or more of service. As these vehicles age, however, they eventually make a disproportionate contribution to the emissions inventory of a given city, state, region, construction site, warehouse or underground mine. The benefits of emissions upgrades are considerable: They dramatically improve the work environment, the productivity of a given business and the health of the general population. ECS’ applications expertise and reputation for innovative solutions have been key to its global success in these markets.
Silence Is Golden
As ECS explains it, heavy-duty truck mufflers (also called “silencers”) have long been regarded as a necessary part of the vehicle’s noise and emission-control systems. Traditionally, the role of the muffler and exhaust system has been relatively simple: to move exhaust gases away from the vehicle occupants, provide noise abatement to meet current regulations, act as a heat dissipater and provide controlled back pressure to the engine.
While OEMs traditionally focus on material quality, weight, system complexity, particulate control, noise levels and back pressure, the after-market repair shop is faced with the reality of cost control, regulatory compliance, driver needs and downtime. In the coming years, the industry will start to see a transition from the muffler as an afterthought to a catalytic exhaust system that will meet stringent emission regulations in North America. Diesel engines as a whole are under extreme pressure right now in pollution-sensitive areas; however, diesel engines used in on-highway vehicles will not escape the scrutiny of the regulators. Newer, stricter pollution goals will drive the continued development of new products and technologies.
To help companies in their quest to install better and more efficient exhaust systems, ECS developed an extensive diesel emission-control product line. A variety of different markets that are increasingly demanding greater than 90 percent particulate removal, are using the ECS Purifilter(tm), a passively regenerating particulate filter. The reason is the Purifilter’s(tm) versatility and durability. “The Purifilter(tm) is being specified for many applications under rigorous conditions,” says Warren Brown, sales and marketing manager. The Purifilter(tm) reduces the health risks associated with diesel particulate emissions, improves air quality and can be less costly and more effective than what companies can reasonably accomplish by increasing ventilation. “Particulate filters significantly reduce the black smoke coming out of diesel engines,” Brown says.
He adds that these filters also have been shown to be effective in on-highway vehicles such as school buses and trucks as part of the overall exhaust system. “As pollution regulations become stricter, the best way to meet them is by using these filters,” Brown says. By using the ECS Purifilter(tm), new diesel engines also will be able to meet 2005-2007 particulate-matter emission regulations. ECS designed the Purifilter(tm) with a specially developed silicon carbide particulate-filter technology that offers superior thermal durability, regeneration performance and extended service life while removing at least 90 percent of emitted particulate matter, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. The Purifilter(tm) also comes in a modular design that affords exceptional fit and easy installation.
In addition, ECS has successfully demonstrated and commercialized its AZ Purifier and Purimuffler(tm) technologies throughout North America and Europe, and is actively marketing the technologies as cost-effective means of improving air quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the ECS AZ catalyst product line under its urban bus retrofit/rebuild and voluntary retrofit programs. Likewise, the Sweden Environmental Zones program has approved the AZ product line.
ECS also markets the Unikat Combifilter(tm), an actively regenerated particulate filter that can be used on captive vehicle fleets (i.e., forklifts, trucks, construction vehicles and mining vehicles) or on stationary engines. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), Ltd., the largest semiconductor manufacturer in Taiwan with sales of more than $4 billion last year, singled out the Combifilter(tm) for its contribution to safety, health and the environment. “TSMC uses Combifilters(tm) on all of the standby generators at one of its production sites. These generators are used as emergency backup power during the power outages that are frequent in Taiwan,” says Brown.
ECS manufactures its products in several locations. In Ontario, it produces catalytic products and mufflers. In Reno, Nev., it makes heavy-duty accessories for trucks, flexible tubing for exhaust systems and exhaust system plumbing. ECS views its wide range of products as a “one-stop solution” for emission-control systems. “Some companies just make the catalytic products to put in use, but these need to match with other products,” Brown says. This means that further assembly is always required. At ECS, he maintains, the idea is to produce complete systems. “Our message is that you can rely on us for custom-focused emission solutions. We have very good industry and regulatory knowledge, and we can offer complete design capabilities for exhaust solutions,” Brown says. “We are very well versed in supplying catalytic and emissions solutions.”
Clearing the Air
ECS was incorporated in Canada in 1980 with the objective of developing, manufacturing and supplying emission-control systems for the diesel and spark-ignited engines used in industrial applications. Since then, it has emerged as a critical supplier of this technology, with its products in use throughout the world. ECS designs and manufactures a full range of products for treating toxic exhaust emissions from diesel, propane, gasoline and natural gas engines. The company’s standard lines include catalytic converters and particulate filters, mufflers (silencers), exhaust diluters and engine management/electronic control systems. Standard and customized exhaust systems and components also are available.
ECS’ capabilities have expanded to satisfy vehicle manufacturers’ total exhaust requirements in the mining, materials-handling, stationary-engine and on-highway markets. The company’s exhaust solutions have become particularly important in the underground mining industry. Because equipment operators are directly exposed to harmful emissions in enclosed areas, mining vehicles are required to use emission-control devices. Mine operators have come to rely on ECS for its innovative line of products to fulfill this need.
A number of entities have recognized ECS’ commitment to quality. The Financial Post, one of Canada’s top newspapers, presented ECS with the Environmental Export Award for significant export growth in technologies that result in environmental benefits. The company earned ISO 9001 certification in 1998. Also, a major mining equipment manufacturer has awarded ECS top honors for customer excellence in delivery three years in a row.
Future plans involve ECS leveraging synergies with Lubrizol – whose focus is on the front part of the engine, where its lubricants and additives are used. “We manage what comes out the back,” says Brown. “If we focus on our relationship with Lubrizol, we can built real strength and offer stem-to-stern solutions for companies.”