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How Does an Auxiliary Power Unit Affect Truck Ownership?

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Many jurisdictions have regulations restricting trucks from idling when they are not being driven. Such regulations have led to an increase in the use of auxiliary power units (ACUs) to generate power for operating forklifts on trucks, provide cabin air conditioningb and power electronics while the truck engine has been switched off. This article discusses how installing an ACU may affect the cost of owning a truck.

Less Wear on the Engine

An ACU helps to give the engine some rest from constant operation. For instance, a forklift truck may only be driven for an hour to a worksite. Once at the site, the engine remains running as the forklift is operated for an 8-hour work shift. This constant running can shorten engine life because the engine is subjected to a load that stresses the moving components of the engine. An ACU reduces the run times of the engine so the engine may need fewer overhauls or repairs since it is doing less work.

Installation Costs

Some people think that all they need to do is to incur the cost of buying the ACU as well as meet a minimal cost for installing that system onto the truck. However, you may have additional costs, such as the cost of moving other components (such as the fuel tank) in order to create space for the ACU on the truck chassis. Such costs vary based on how complex the component relocation is. You should therefore be ready to meet these extra costs when you decide to install an ACU on your truck.

Effect on Payload Capacity

You may have to reevaluate the magnitude of the payload that your truck carries if you install a large ACU system. This is because the ACU will increase the overall weight of the truck, and that may limit how much cargo the truck can safely carry. Talk to the supplier of the ACU so that you get one whose size will have a minimal effect on your truck's carrying/towing capacity.

Maintenance Costs

Most ACUs are diesel operated or electric (battery) powered. Each has its own implication on the cost of maintaining the truck. For instance, the diesel-powered ACU requires routine oil changes while the electric version will require the battery to be changed once its performance drops significantly. Consider the maintenance costs of the ACU before you make a purchase.

ACUs can be very helpful in increasing driver comfort and truck functionality when the truck isn't on the move. However, one needs to think through all the implications before choosing a specific unit to install. Talk to truck servicing experts so that you can be helped to outline the right specifications for the ACU that would be ideal for your truck and application.