Following the announcement that it is launching its automotive-derived active oil management system into the commercial small engines market, Nexcel, part of the BP innovation division, commissioned a survey of LawnSite forum members in August 2019 to establish the market’s interest in the technology. The results, combined with existing industry feedback, compelled the company to build two demonstrator ride-on lawnmowers equipped with the sealed cell technology, which it will be displaying next week at 2019 GIE+EXPO in Louisville, KY, October 16-19. This article shares insights from Nexcel, including highlights from the survey and updates from the company.

“The LawnSite survey of over 1,700 members gave us invaluable data. The responses showed a real interest in learning more about the benefits of the Nexcel active oil management system for hard-working small engines,” Ben Russell, Nexcel Commercial Director explains. “This encouraged us to modify the development of demonstrator machines for GIE, to enable GIE visitors to visualize how Nexcel works with current machines. We are confident that the relative simplicity of the Nexcel idea means that to see it is to understand it.” However, for those GIE attendees wanting the last word in detail there will also be a cutaway model of a Nexcel cell on display, depicting the oil flows and valve technology in use.

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The Nexcel sealed oil cell is a neat fit in most engine bays. (Photo: Nexcel)

The 2019 LawnSite survey gathered information on how lawn-cutting machines are used and maintained, by who and how frequently. The results showed that 82% of respondents were interested in having Nexcel technology on their next machine and were keen to learn more about Nexcel and how it may impact their businesses. The maintenance data makes for some startling reading.

“Given the information we gained form the Lawnsite user survey, we worked out that if Nexcel technology was utilized on every machine operated by every respondent, the annual time saved on maintenance would total 12,000 working days!” explains Russell.

This incredible figure is based on the survey results showing that 91% of maintenance is carried out in-house. The average oil drain service time of respondents is just over 20 minutes and is completed every 100 hours of use. The figures are worked out based on a Nexcel service taking two minutes end-to-end.

“We don’t need a survey to tell us that nobody enjoys changing a dirty oil and filter,” smiles Russell. “Using Nexcel, basic maintenance can be much less time-consuming and far cleaner. The sealed cell design eradicates the risk of spillage and is designed to be changed in as little as 90 seconds. The cell, consisting of oil and filter, simply plugs into the machine-mounted docking system. This ensures precise control of oil quantity going into the sump.”

The survey results show that the average oil drain interval for 61% of respondents is between 50-100 hours, so you could argue that Nexcel can save even more time if operators are carrying out services at the more frequent end of the scale but, according to Russell, the time aspect is only one of the benefits.

“The LawnSite survey data tells us that 75% of people are already changing the oil filter at every oil change regardless of what the schedule says. This shows that landscapers are already doing more than the schedule demands to protect their machines. With Nexcel we take that a step further, ensuring the right engine, oil and filter combination, with fast and frequent oil and filter changes. This can lead to improved engine efficiency and durability. In such a harsh environment, where small engines are required to work at maximum output for long periods of time, incremental improvements can have a significant impact on large fleet efficiencies.”

Market Research

“The survey has shown that there is strong interest in Nexcel, but also some skepticism driven by a lack of understanding about the technology. This has inspired the development of two demonstrator machines,” says Russell. “191 comments were returned as part of the survey, with over half positively seeking further information or wanting to fully understand about the system. Others sought more information before making an informed decision and some even thought it sounded too good to be true!”

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Nexcel cell extraction can be performed quickly, with no spills. (Photo: Nexcel)

“One of the main areas we wanted to address by attending GIE with clearly identifiable, understandable machines is to reinforce that Nexcel would be a series production technology that replaces traditional oil and sump set-ups. It’s designed to be modular and work in a way that can be tailored to small commercial engine manufacturers’ needs and specifications and may even be available as an aftermarket kit for current machines. Engine technology has moved on since motorized lawn and landscaping machinery was first considered; Nexcel aims to bring oil management and servicing in-line.”

A cross section of survey comments vary from a belief that no-tools servicing sounds great but is “hard to believe”, to not being able to “imagine what Nexcel technology looks like” and being “unable to visualize the technology”. The company believes that showcasing its system at GIE will help allay these fears and create an image of how the technology can help operators’ businesses.

GIE presence will also help the commenters that said they needed to “see a demo of the product” or a YouTube video, “aren’t sure what a sealed cell is” or have interest sparked by a technology “that sounds like it could save time and money”. Others “hate messy oil changes” or thought that “a spill-free and very little time spent on service would be fantastic”.

The cutaway demonstration of this system available to view at the Nexcel stand (Booth #21090) at GIE will demonstrate the flows of oil within the system and the relationship to the engine block and sump, and will be backed up by a demonstration video. “Our survey replies indicated lawn mowing professionals were keen to know more about Nexcel. With the two demonstrator machines, the cutaway model and our video, we hope GIE visitors will be fully informed as to how Nexcel works, and the value it can bring to their business” says Russell.

Next Steps

“Respondents were almost unanimous in their belief that it is crucial to have the correct grade and level of oil in the sump at all times,” states Russell. “While the first generation Nexcel system helps ensure complete control of the oil and filter being used by machines, our latest designs aim to provide a more automated management solution.”

The team have developed a novel way to monitor the oil level within the engine and top off the oil automatically when required. This reduces the risk of down time due to engine failures from errors made in the monitoring and top-off of oil today. The Nexcel team have also found a way to extend the drain interval of the engine using the same electronics system, “We’d simply be minimizing unnecessary maintenance time and costs,” concludes Nexcel’s Russell.

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(Image: Nexcel)