Commercial vehicle component supplier ZF is pushing the envelope of future truck technology. At a rain-soaked test track in western Germany, the company showcased a wide array of new commercial vehicle systems. The highlights of these new products, however, have to be an all-new dual-clutch automated manual transmission and the new Smart Truck Maneuvering System, which allows a driver to position a truck from outside the cab using a tablet computer.
The new Traxon AMT is ZF’s successor to its ground-breaking ASTronic AMT, which will continue in production for the foreseeable future. Traxon builds on the advances in software and computing power that have occurred since the introduction of the ASTronic, with an eye toward increasing safety, comfort and control for the driver. “At ZF, we see the engine as the heart of a truck,” says Frederik Staedtler, global head of ZF’s commerical vehicle operations. “But today, the automated transmission is the brains of the truck. And this is one of the guiding principles in the design of the new Traxon AMT.”
The most visible aspect of this philosophy is the predictive cruise control feature on the new transmission. Traxon software is tied in with GPS navigational systems to accurately track and predict upcoming terrain features, then adjust gear selection and shift patterns as well as throttle input to manage them effectively. So, if Traxon is alerted via GPS that a steep grade is approaching, the AMT’s software will begin building up additional torque (and speed) to avoid deceleration. Drivers no longer have to intervene when using cruise control to maintain vehicle speed in those conditions. Likewise, if the system detects the vehicle is on a long downgrade, it can dial down throttle levels to maximize fuel economy.
ZF engineers targeted both noise suppression and shift smoothness as primary design goals for the new AMT. A dual-clutch design provides extremely smooth, seamless shifts — even fully loaded at highway speeds. The result is an automated manual transmission that shifts and feels like a full automatic transmission with a torque converter. ZF also designed the overall package with five, modular components. This allows the transmission to be precisely spec’d to meet a wide range of fleet applications from vocational work to long-haul.
An even more interesting glimpse into the future was the new Smart Truck Maneuvering system. This prototype system is fitted on ZF’s Innovation Truck test vehicle. The Innovation Truck features a hybrid electric drive that is mated to a highly sophisticated remote control system. In tight — or potentially hazardous — surroundings, a driver can climb out of the cab and use a tablet computer to precisely move the truck on electric power. Backing, turning and parking can be accomplished easily on the tablet. The system (which I tested) was intuitive to operate and surprisingly easy to use.
These new products, and others introduced today for the global bus market, show a new direction for ZF, Staedtler notes. “Increasingly, electronics, software, actuators and electrification are becoming more important in commercial vehicle development and technology,” he explains. “This is a trend ZF understands is investing heavily in today to build safer, more productive vehicles in the future.”
Volvo Trucks is now launching I-Shift Dual Clutch - the first automated transmission for heavy vehicles with a dual clutch system. Thanks to power-shift gear changes torque is maintained without any interruption in power delivery and, as a consequence, the truck does not lose any speed during gear changes. For the driver, the result is more comfortable and efficient progress on the road.
"In situations that require a lot of gear changes, for instance on hilly or windy roads, I-Shift Dual Clutch brings an entirely new dimension to truck driving. Here at Volvo Trucks we are immensely proud to be able to offer this innovation to our customers," says Claes Nilsson, President of Volvo Trucks.
I-Shift Dual Clutch is a transmission consisting of two input shafts and a dual clutch. This means that two gears can be selected at the same time. It is the clutch that determines which of the gears is currently active. I-Shift Dual Clutch is based on I-Shift, but the front half of the gearbox has been redesigned with entirely new components.
"When driving it feels like you have access to two gearboxes. When one gear is selected in one gearbox, the next gear is already prepared in the other. With dual clutches, gear changes take place without any interruption in power delivery. As a result, engine torque is maintained and driving comfort is significantly improved," says Astrid Drewsen, product manager for drivelines at Volvo Trucks.
Available from autumn 2014
Transmissions with dual clutches are already used in cars, but Volvo Trucks is the first manufacturer in the world to offer a similar solution for series-produced heavy vehicles when it will be available on certain Volvo FH models from autumn 2014.
"For trucks, this gearbox will truly make a major difference to driveability. The heavier the transport and the tougher the operating conditions, the more you will gain with I Shift Dual Clutch. Power-shift gear changes, where there is no interruption in power delivery, means it is easier to keep up with traffic, especially on difficult stretches of roads. The result is more relaxed and safe driving," says Astrid Drewsen.
More efficient driving and increased driver comfort
I-Shift Dual Clutch is particularly effective in long haul operations and conditions that require a lot of gear changing, for instance on hills, roads with lots of twists and turns or when driving through cities with plenty of roundabouts and traffic lights. I-Shift Dual Clutch also makes a big difference with livestock or tanker operations, since the seamless gear changes means less movement in the cargo itself. In addition, thanks to I-Shift Dual Clutch power-shifting, there is less risk of getting stuck on slippery or uneven roads, such as when hauling timber in a forest.
Another major advantage with the new transmission is that it improves driver comfort. "In addition to efficient driving, the smooth gear changes also mean that the in-cab environment feels quieter,"says Astrid Drewsen.
I-Shift Dual Clutch will be available from autumn 2014 on the Volvo FH with Euro-6 D13 engines with the 460, 500 or 540 hp options.
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29 April - 1 May 2014
The Commercial Vehicle Show is the primary sourcing and selling opportunity for the entire UK road freight transport and logistics industry, unrivalled in size, product range and visitor attendance. For operators it is THE meeting place, attracting over 18,000 high quality visitors with serious buying power.
As an exhibitor, the CV Show is the obvious event choice to help you win orders in a competitive market. Above all, the Show provides the truly unique benefit of genuine face-to-face encounters with decision makers who have purposely left their business to call on you!
Ahead of unveiling its revised LF and CF ranges at next month’s CV Show, DAF Trucks has confirmed the details of the Euro-6 engines that will power them.
While most CF tractors and multiwheel rigids will use the brand new 10.8-litre MX-11 engine, LF models and the lighter CF rigid chassis will continue to be powered by Cummins-supplied ISB four- and six-cylinder common-rail engines.
As usual, these are rebadged for use in DAFs, with the new four-cylinder, 4.5-litre ISB becoming a Paccar PX-5, replacing the Euro-5 Paccar FR. The six-cylinder, 6.7-litre ISB in DAFs is dubbed the Paccar PX-7, replacing the Euro-5 Paccar GR.
Cummins revealed these engines a year ago. The six-cylinder ISB/MX-7 is a straightforward development of the Euro-5 ISB, featuring the addition of EGR and variable geometry turbocharging (VGT), followed by the usual Euro-6 comprehensive SCR and DPF exhaust after-treatment box.
However, the four-cylinder ISB/MX-5 is not based on the Euro-5 ISB: it is instead derived from Cummins’ 3.8-litre ISF engine, enlarged to 4.5-litres. Cummins says this gives weight savings that offset the additional weight of the exhaust after-treatment. This engine also employs VGT and uses both EGR and SCR. It is be made in China instead of Darlington, where ISB engines currently are built.
The power and torque ratings of the new PX engines are broadly comparable to the FR and GR engines they replace. However, they have a wider peak torque plateau for better flexibility and the highest rating of the six-cylinder PX is 310hp, a significant hike from Euro-5’s 295hp.