Manual vs Automated DPF Cleaning Equipment – Which Method is Best?

Manual vs Automated DPF Cleaning Equipment - Which Method is Best?
Article by Jim Sutherland

We often get asked to discuss the differences or pros and cons of automated vs manual DPF cleaning equipment. On the surface, it would seem that automated is the simplest path as you get a clean filter and do not need to have someone overseeing the process. However, the reality is a bit more complicated. I wanted to write this piece to detail the reasons why our company believes the manual method produces a better overall result when it comes to getting DPFs as clean as possible.

Building The Better DPF Cleaning Mouse Trap

To give a little backdrop to the story, let’s discuss some history. Enviromotive has been in the equipment manufacturing business for almost 40 years. Designing equipment for this long helped us when we decided to jump into the DPF cleaning market. DPFs and DPF cleaning came on the scene around 2007 and started to make an impact in driver’s lives across the country. Enviromotive noticed this and decided we could design and manufacture DPF cleaning equipment to help fill the future need of cleaning these large, odd looking filters.

Like any company would do, we looked at the processes and procedures out in the market to figure out the pros and cons. To be honest, we were about to build something very similar to the automated processes out there today. However, after many trial sessions, we concluded that automated systems, whether air, water, etc were not getting the DPF’s completely clean, or would end up damaging the filter substrates. Our research into the automated systems showed that they lacked the ability to focus on any specific area or cell of the DPF, which we felt was the most important piece of the puzzle to ensure complete cleaning.

Sure, all systems can clean the easy parts of the DPF (roughly 60%), but can they truly focus on the area where the heaviest soot load has accumulated? Our testing indicated that is not the case, unless you turn the expensive automated unit into a manual system by manipulating the air nozzles “by hand”. Additionally, pulse type units are at even more of a disadvantage as they don’t even have an option to focus their air flow. Once they reach that 60% cleaning of the DPF, the pulse of air will take the path of least resistance around the “GUMBALL” (a specific area in the DPF’s substrate where there is heavy soot load accumulates more that the rest of the filter) until their 30-minute cycle is done. Our testing and estimates show that roughly 10%-20% of the particulate matter is left in the DPF after the cleaning cycle has been finished with both automated and pulse DPF cleaning systems. In essence, the soot that is left in the DPF can be calculated into miles on the road that customers are not getting back with a filter that is as clean as possible.

Location is Everything

Every DPF, depending on the engine and configuration, has a specific flow pattern when coming from the engine up-stream. You will see all different configurations of DPF placement on a vehicle. From vertical stack behind the cab, horizontal configuration under the step or cab, etc. Each of these configurations will determine where, what we call, the “GUMBALL” will be located in the DPF. Usually the “GUMBALL” will accumulate in an area that is roughly 30% to 40% of the filter. We feel the cleaning of this accumulation area is what gets neglected when placing your DPF in ANY automated system. This “GUMBALL” issue is the main reason we decided to turn away from automation in favor of a manual system. When we built our EvacuBlast DPF Cleaning System, we designed a manual system that enabled the user to focus additional cleaning on the “Gumball” area of each filter. This results in an overall cleaner filter as extra cleaning time can be spent in  specific areas that need it most rather than a uniform amount of time being spent across the filter surface.

Complexity vs Simplicity

In addition to manual systems providing a more thorough cleaning of the DPF, not being automated means there are less things to break. An automated system requires both more complexity and cost. As with most things in life, with greater complexity comes less durability. This might be a trade-off worth making if those systems cleaned better, but as we discussed above, the opposite is true. Often, when making a purchasing decision, people assume if it’s more expensive it must work better. My suggestion, do more research.

To learn more about DPF cleaning equipment and understanding the differences between automated and manual cleaning, please contact us today at 800-954-8265. We offer have the best informed DPF related technical support available in the industry. You can also check out our EvacuBlast DPF Cleaning System by clicking HERE.

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