BTS 19: Gearing up for change

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Eaton will be showcasing its UltraShift PLUS transmission, fully integrated with the Cummins X15 engine, at the 2019 Brisbane Truck Show

BTS 19: Gearing up for change
Eaton Vehicle Group’s engineering manager Graeme Weston

Gears aren’t the only things changing, as the trucking world evolves towards automation, according to Eaton Vehicle Group’s engineering manager Graeme Weston.

Mindsets are changing, too. It’s true some drivers still yearn for a good old-fashioned gear stick, but increasingly they’re walking away if they open the door and see a manual stick. Fleet owners too are embracing the benefits of an automated manual transmission (AMT), which have shown significant fuel savings across the fleet.

But it’s not just a matter of installing an AMT and expecting it to perform. The essential part is integrating the transmission with the truck’s engine, and that’s where the current integration between Eaton’s UltraShift PLUS transmission and the Cummins X15 engine is paying dividends.

"This has been the result of a lot of hard work and testing locally," says Weston.

"We realise that for the customer to get the benefit it’s not just down to the engine or the transmission, it’s about how the two work together. That’s what this project is about."

Eaton introduced the UltraShift PLUS in 2011 and it incorporates fully automated clutching and shift controls.

"It’s much easier for both drivers and the driveline, because we control torque during launch and shifting, and you don’t get torque spikes through the driveline," Weston says.


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"The primary aim is to optimise the shift calibration to the characteristics of the engine, meaning we develop shift points around the specific power and torque curves of the engine, the RPM where it seems to pull best and crucially around the best fuel economy zone. We further optimise these aspects to achieve the balance of performance and economy we’re after. It’s become a lot more intuitive, which means drivers take to it."

Matching transmission and engine means understanding local conditions and what Australian customers want. That’s why Eaton engineers have spent so much time on the road rigorously testing configurations, as well as talking directly to customers.

Eaton account manager Tien Polonidis says being able to customise the integration for specific applications means they can offer a versatile product that suits any number of Australian conditions.

"Our customers might be using their trucks in mines in Western Australia, or carting livestock in Queensland, or running small metropolitan runs around the city. Whatever it is we can set up the transmission so that it works with the engine in the most optimal way," she says.

Weston adds it can be a juggling act sometimes between performance and fuel economy, but he says it’s possible now to get both, and more.

Smart engineering extends to "dual mode", a local Eaton development that automatically senses if a truck is loaded or not, and adjusts the shift configuration accordingly, Polonidis says.

The 2019 Brisbane Truck Show will be held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre from Thursday, May 16 to Sunday, May 19, 2019. To secure your ticket – and go into the draw to win a Toyota HiLux Rugged X – click here!

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