by Angus Lindsay, Group Head of Assets and Fleet
It may come as a surprise to many people but European Whole Vehicle Type Approval is now upon us. For trailers, it has been with us since the end of October 2012, which means it is illegal for a manufacturer to sell a trailer in the UK without a legally recognised approval, regardless of the build date. For commercial vehicles the process started back in 2009 and should be completed by 2014 with the aim of ensuring that vehicles, their systems and components are approved to the appropriate National and European environmental and safety standards.
Image: A simple solution to a logistics headache, but is it type approved?
So why mention it now you ask, surely the vehicle manufacturers are sorting all this out and it won’t affect me other than an inevitable increase in the cost of a new vehicle?
Well yes, that is the case unless you buy a vehicle as a bare chassis and have the bodywork constructed to your own specification. We all know the scenario: “I want a tipper, but it needs to do several jobs, so it’ll need a toolbox, no two toolboxes, then sides and possibly a roof for wood chipping, loading ramps to carry machines” and so on. Before you know where you are you’ve got Thunderbird 2 parked in your yard.
Unfortunately new vehicle bodywork must now also be type approved so that everything from the tie-down points to the drop sides complies with the standard. You may find that your coachworks may offer you several variations for which they have gained approval but this might not suit your applications.
On a similar theme, manufacturers of mowing machines have catch up and comply with changes in engine construction regulations in an effort to reduce emissions. If 2012 was anything to go by Global Warming is definitely a reality, with changing weather patterns, flooding and freak storms all attributed to man’s influence on the environment.
We’re all aware of constantly reducing emissions in cars and large commercial vehicles (currently at Euro 5 with Euro 6 just around the corner) but what of construction and agricultural machinery? These always seem to be last when it comes to changes in engine emissions, though the latest tractors and earth movers now feature urea injection systems as used by commercial vehicles. So where does it leave the ride-on mower, is it small enough in terms of size and volume not to be an issue? Unfortunately this is not the case.
In the future, small engine manufacturers such as Kubota, Yanmar and Briggs that still use diesel fuel will have to develop cleaner engine using ‘lean burn’ or SMART technology and/or larger catalytic convertors. Catalytic convertors require an occasional burst of heat, up to 600⁰c to burn off soot, which is not a problem on road vehicles but could prove interesting where dry grass is concerned. It could also see a rethink on alternative fuel use, petrol, LPG even electric power for commercial mowers. None of these solutions are out of the question but the physical size of the machine could increase, the engines may become more powerful and one thing is certain in that the cost will go up.
So what else is on the horizon? Despite HMRC relaxing the rules on the use of red diesel in tractors to allow farmers to help grit and clear snow from public roads during extreme weather, it is unlikely that the landscaping and amenity industry will see any changes which may benefit us. Ultimately improving efficiency and machine utilisation is our best way forward.
Angus writes a monthly column for Pro Landscaper magazine