Tuesday December 12, 2017

North America’s leader in ECM tuning

Diesel Spec, North America’s leader in ECM tuning, offers owner-operators and fleets personalized solutions and unparalleled customer support.
The largest diesel-engine-ECM-tuning company in North America began in 1987 as a mobilemechanic business serving the Montreal area from an old Dodge van. The company now known as Diesel Spec found its niche as it evolved with changes in diesel engines and customer needs.
Founder Eddy Fournier established a shop in 1995, focusing on repairing and rebuilding heavy-duty diesel engines. In the late ’90s, the company became one of the first in its area to start repairing electronic control modules (ECMs) in the electronic engines that were taking over the market.
“We became well known for engine diagnostics, and even the dealers were sending trucks our way,” says Christian Fournier, who bought the business from his father, Eddy, in 2010. “Then we expanded more into programing – readjusting fuel maps and boost maps – and we achieved great fuel economy because of this. We saw there was a big market for performance increases and fuel-economy savings.”
Business boomed. In 2010, Diesel Spec stopped doing mechanical work and built a new shop dedicated to ECM tuning for heavy-duty trucks and agricultural equipment. In 2011, the company established a dealer network and began using a dealer tool it developed that allows technicians in the Montreal office to perform engine diagnostics and ECM tuning remotely, in real time. Diesel Spec now has nearly 400 dealers spread across the United States and Canada and has performed ECM tuning on more than 40,000 medium- and heavy-duty diesel truck engines.
We asked Christian Fournier, president of Diesel Spec, and Ian Rees, general manager, to tell us more about the benefits of Diesel Spec’s ECM-tuning services.
What is ECM tuning?
ECM tuning is the process of fine tuning the software program that controls the engine fuel management system, without having to replace any parts. The result is more power, greater response and lower fuel consumption.
Why don’t engine manufacturers set ECMs for optimal power and fuel economy?
The biggest thing is time and mass production. ECMs are all tuned the same. The manufacturer throws a program in it, and it’s tested to give a rough horsepower rating. The final finesse or personalization is not there.
That’s where we step in. We’ll do a download of the ECM and we’ll see how the driver operates, where his needs are for his power bands and curves and the way he drives. Then we custom tune the mapping in the ECM for his rpm ranges and vehicle speeds to get better fuel economy and increased power. Customers love it.
Who are your primary customers in the trucking industry?
It’s a big mix of owner-operators, fleets and export companies. Once we do a couple vehicles for a major fleet and they do their math, they call back and we’re doing 50-plus trucks for them because of the fuel savings.
What kinds of fuel savings and power increases can customers expect?
On a normal tuning, customers can see up to 20 percent in fuel savings and up to 30 percent in power increases. The typical ranges are power increases of 10 to 15 percent and fuel-economy improvement of .5 mpg to 1.5 mpg. We guarantee at least .5 mpg. When you consider that over a year, with the price of fuel, those are big savings.
With power increases and fuel economy, do customers have to choose one or the other?
When a customer calls, we have a conversation to figure out his needs. Most people are looking for both. They’d like a little better power, yet they don’t want to sacrifice fuel economy. So we try to give them the best of both worlds. Usually you get a little power enhancement and crisper throttle response, yet better fuel economy on the flats. Customers like the overall results. Drivers are happy to have more power, and owners are happy to save on fuel.
Are there any other advantages?
The drivability is what a lot of people like. When you throttle it, it’s not lazy. It’s nice and crisp. It responds better. There’s a better feeling – a better touch on the pedal. Drivers really like that. And because optimal tuning results in better combustion and a cleaner engine, downtime and repair costs are reduced and the engine lasts longer.
FROM LEFT: The DSI Tuner is perfect for fleets and can hold calibrations for up to 1,000 trucks; The Remote Tuner is used by Diesel Spec dealers; The Pro Tuner is designed for advanced users. 
What brands of engine can you tune?
We offer tuning for Cummins, Caterpillar, Detroit Diesel, Hino, Mercedes, International, Volvo, Paccar, Mack, Isuzu, Maxxforce and most agriculture engines.
Is ECM tuning particularly beneficial for certain trucking applications ?
Fuel economy is crucial in most on-highway trucking operations, so ECM tuning is helpful across applications. Companies in heavy-haul applications also see a lot of benefits from increased horsepower and torque. In logging applications, for instance, drivers need lots of power and strength to pull the mountains and operate on unpaved roads.
Does ECM tuning have any negative effects on exhaust emissions or warranties?
There are different types of clientele for ECM tuning. For those looking for on-highway performance and fuel-economy improvements, there are no problems with emissions regulations or warranties.
Some customers want off-highway tuning for applications such as racing and other competitions. In those cases, depending on power settings, warranties could be voided. The alterations also could result in violations of on-highway emissions regulations in California.
How do owner-operators and fleet owners take advantage of your ECM tuning services?
Owner-operators can bring their truck to our shop, visit one of our 375 North American dealers or mail their ECMs to us. Fleets have those options plus the opportunity to purchase an ECM tuning tool from us. Major fleets usually equip themselves with the same tuning tools our dealers use. When a customer wants to send an ECM directly to us, he’ll remove the module himself, package it up and send it via FedEx or UPS. The day we receive it, we’ll retune it and send it back overnight. The turnaround time is really quick.
How do the ECM tuning services your company offers differ from those of other ECM tuning providers?
With our 375 resellers in North America, we can offer the best accessibility on the market. That’s one way we’re different. No. 2 is our customer service and support. When customers call, whether they’re a major fleet or an owner-operator with one truck, they are treated with the same respect. We take the time to talk with them and figure out their needs.
We develop every tuning in house. Many competitors use basic files they bought on the Web, without knowing exactly what they are putting on a customer’s truck. We also use a dynamometer to test all our files and make sure we give each customer the exact power he needs. Lots of competitors will use a basic file that has too much power and will incur internal engine damage. Lastly, we have a modern facility and 20 employees dedicated to our services, compared to most competitors who don’t even have a shop and are a one-person company behind a big website.
What kind of after-sale support do you offer?
After-sale support is another area where we excel versus all our competitors. We provide a one-year warranty that covers ECM crashes and ECM reflashes by OEM dealers. (Technicians at OEM dealer shops sometimes reset ECMs to factory specs.) Some competitors offer this coverage, but as insurance they sell. We offer it for free. When customers have issues on the road – whether they’re ECM-related or just engine-repair related – they call us and we give them technical support and get them into a dealer, no matter where they are in North America.
We also advise customers on changes that could affect vehicle performance in relation to ECM tuning. A customer might do a ratio change or a tire change, and then they don’t get the same response out of their engine. The ECM was calibrated for the tire size that was on the vehicle. When a change is made, the ECM needs to be recalibrated. We can make these tweaks quickly and charge an hourly rate.



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