Kalamazoo, Mich. – Eaton Corporation unveiled two new automated transmissions recently in Kalamazoo, as part of a two-day trade event organized by Roadranger.
The new transmissions are designed for heavy-duty linehaul and medium-duty pickup & delivery, service/utility and recovery applications.
The Fuller UltraShift LHP (Linehaul High Performance) transmission, part of Eaton’s heavy-duty UltraShift family, was specifically designed for on-highway applications where superior low-end and high-end performance, as well as excellent ratio coverage, is required to handle varying terrain and load conditions. Based on the Fuller “RT” transmission, the UltraShift LHP provides fully automatic “two-pedal” operation, and is capable of handling torque capacities up to 1,750 lbs/ft. and loads up to 110,000 lbs. gross combined weight (GCW).
“The LHP has been designed to provide best-in-class performance with gathered ratios in the top and bottom gears for excellent launch quality, unsurpassed low-speed and reverse maneuverability, and superior shiftability on grades” explained Scott Steurer, Product Line Manager for Heavy Duty Transmission Performance/Vocational. “Although the LHP is aimed at the high-performance segment of the market, it offers the same benefits as the rest of the UltraShift family including improved driver comfort and satisfaction, simplified driver recruitment and reduced training costs, reduced maintenance costs and increased uptime.”
The LHP features 13 speeds plus a selectable low starting gear of 12.2:1, which has been designated by an “L” in the model nomenclature. In addition to these 14 gears, the LHP features progressive gearing, that provides gathered ratios in the low-end and high-end gears for superior start-ability and better operating efficiency. These “gathered gears” enable the engine to operate within a tighter RPM range, thus permitting a more efficient use of available power. Moreover, the LHP’s three reverse gears aim to provide enough maneuvering flexibility to take the stress out of backing-up and trailer hookup.
Steurer went on to stress that, “although the LHP has been called a 13-speed, we want our manual 13-speed customers to understand that this transmission is purpose-built for highway performance, and is not intended for extensive off-road use.”
Additional key features and benefits of the UltraShift LHP, according to Roadranger officials include:
* Two torque capacities, both approved to 110,000 lbs. GCW: 1,650 lb-ft and 1,650 “M” (Multi-Torque) model with 1,750 lb-ft operation in top two gears.
* Automatic starts, utilizing a dry clutch module, based on the industry standard 15 1/2 inch twin plate, ceramic-facing technology.
* Electronic shift protection and totally automated operation reduces the potential for drivetrain abuse.
* Electronics, controls and XY shifter are the same as Generation 3 AutoShift reducing part count and improving serviceability.
Several electronic service functions are also part of the new “Gen 3” electronics in the HV and all other new UltraShift transmissions, including:
* “Electronic Snapshot” – takes a data picture of the system when the fault occurred.
* “Wiggle Test” – tests system connections by simulating an operating environment with vibrations and jarring.
* Service Port – Separate test port allows technician to test the system without disturbing the current condition of the components and wiring
* Driver-triggered Data Logger – captures 10 seconds of system performance data to capture and record hard-to-replicate faults when they occur in actual operation.
The UltraShift LHP has undergone extensive testing both on the road and in the lab, said officials, who also allowed trade editors to test ride a tractor-trailer combination equipped with the transmission. (Drivers have the option of switching to manual and selecting their own gears with the touch of a button. The transition is seamless. And mistakes are automatically prevented because the transmission will only allow manual shifting within a certain range – when a driver strays outside the recommended range the transmission emits a loud beep and will even self-correct.)
Officials said that since beginning road testing in September of 2004, LHP test trucks have been tested in seven fleets and have logged more than 800,000 miles with excellent results. The LHP is currently in its limited quantity release phase, with an initial production quantity of 400 over the next six months. Full production is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2005.
Among those touting the merits of the UltraShift LHP is Gary Coleman, president of Big Freight Systems, Inc., a flatbed carrier based in Steinbach, Man., Canada. Big Freight hauls construction equipment, building products, recreational vehicles and glass across Canada and internationally between Canada and the United States.
“Our Roadranger rep felt the LHP would provide our fleet with the same reliable performance as the manual 13-speed while reducing the overall maintenance costs for our drivelines and allow us to select from a more diverse pool of drivers, ” said Coleman.
“We have been testing five units and have had such great results that we recently placed an order for 45 additional LHP units,” continued Coleman. “Our drivers like the performance and we consider the reliability to be equal to that of the 13- and 18-speed manual transmissions.”
The UltraShift transmission incorporates an advanced shift-by-wire system, utilizing SAE-J1939 protocol to communicate with electronic engines, allowing precise control of engine and transmission functions. The Eaton Fuller UltraShift totally eliminates mechanical lever shifting and the mechanical clutch pedal, providing smooth, automatic shifting and vehicle launches, giving the driver the ability to maintain better vehicle control, and allowing both hands on the wheel at all times.
Eaton guns for competitive
Eaton officials were equally enthusiastic about their new automated transmission for the medium-duty market, suggesting even that they expect it to give Allison a run for its money.
“The UltraShift HV has been designed to deliver fuel savings superior to its competitors by allowing the engine to consistently operate in the most fuel-efficient portion of the performance curve,” said Bill Gross, product manager for Eaton’s medium-duty transmissions. Gross explained that an automated mechanical transmission is inherently more fuel-efficient than a planetary-geared transmission with a torque converter, and cited preliminary results from a recently completed fuel economy study performed by an independent testing laboratory.
“More testing is required, and we won’t release our results until the HV is in volume production, but I can tell you that our early results are very encouraging, indicating a substantial fuel economy advantage in an urban duty cycle as compared to a torque-converted transmission of the same capacity,” said Gross.
The UltraShift HV is a fully automated transmission system, sharing technologies and automation components from proven and reliable Fuller UltraShift heavy-duty transmissions.
The HV joins the recently re-named UltraShift “HP” (which stands for Highway Performance – formerly the UltraShift ASW) – in an expanding family of automated medium-duty transmissions.
The HV is designed for Class 6 and 7 vehicles with diesel engines in the 195 to 260 horsepower range, and is capable of handling torque capacities up to 660 lbs-ft. and loads up to 33,000 lbs. GVW. Pickup & delivery, service/utility and recovery applications are ideally suited for the operational characteristics of the UltraShift HV.
One of the most interesting features of the new HV is its “Hill Assist” function. Hill Assist automatica
lly minimizes rollback on up to 10 per cent grades while the operator makes the transition from the brake pedal to the accelerator.
“During the development stage of this product we surveyed many of our customers and the results were convincing,” explained Gross. “The vast majority of those surveyed indicated that Hill Assist was a top priority when spec’ing a medium-duty transmission. This feature is not only a convenience, but aids the driver in safer day to day operation.” Hill Assist benefits the driver in both uphill and downhill stop/start situations.
Trade editors who were allowed to give the HV a test ride found that rollback during pedal transition is indeed minimal, but not intended to encourage P&D drivers to jump out of the cab without putting on their parking brakes. The Hill Assist will only hold on for about 1.5 seconds, explained a technician. Additional key features and benefits of the UltraShift HV include:
* Warranty: Vocationally tailored warranty coverage for up to three years, unlimited mileage, parts and labor (customers are encouraged to ask their OEM dealers regarding coverage specific to their application).
* Lubed for Life: provides lower maintenance and downtime costs than the competition over the lifecycle of the truck.
* Modular Design: provides more rapid service and reduced service costs.
* Abuse Protection: electronic shift protection and clutch protection logic reduces the potential for drivetrain and clutch abuse.
* Commonality: electronics modules and shift controls used on other Fuller manual and automated transmissions allow service providers to reduce service parts inventories and speed training and certification of technicians
Several other electronic service features are part of the new “Gen 3” electronics in the HV and all other new UltraShift transmissions, including those already listed above for the UltraShift LHP.
Service support will be provided to UltraShift HV owners by OEM dealer service locations, as well as the Roadranger service support system throughout North America.
The UltraShift HV, like the LHP is currently in limited quantity release, with 500 units scheduled for production between now and March 2006.
Volume production is scheduled for April 2006.
For more information on the Fuller UltraShift and other Roadranger products and services, visit the Internet at www.roadranger.com, or write to Roadranger Marketing, P.O. Box 4013, Kalamazoo, Mich. 49003.
To reach Roadranger right now, dial 1-800-826-HELP (4357) in the U.S. and Canada.