Trucking industry issues have stimulated the rise of Allison transmissions in Australia. There has been an evolution in the skill set of drivers with the workforce becoming more transient and career truck drivers reducing in numbers. This change has been a significant technology driver particularly in the area of truck transmissions.
The fully automatic Allison Transmission technology removes the optimal gear-selection decision-making process for drivers and is claimed to enable improved fuel economy, reduced driveline and tyre wear and improved vehicle performance and drivability.
Current truck transmission options for customers include traditional manual transmissions (MT), automated manual transmissions (AMT) and fully automatic transmissions. Within these three options each manufacturer offers its own bespoke solutions.
In contrast to MTs and AMTs, fully automatic transmissions use a torque converter in place of a friction clutch that transfers engine power to the drivetrain. The torque convertor is designed to last the life of the transmission and does not contain any wearing parts that can be subject to driver misuse. This feature alone provides Allison transmissions with high market saturation in the refuse and agitator markets, and has led a rapidly growing popularity in the pickup and delivery and hire truck markets.
Enabling full power shifts, the torque converter can increase vehicle productivity and the life of the drivetrain, in turn reducing maintenance costs. Multiplying engine power at vehicle take off, the torque converter allows lower-power engines to be utilised while maintaining vehicle performance and achieving fuel economy gains.
Allison Transmission has done a lot of work with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to refine engine and transmission integration. Allison transmissions also include features such as an inclinometer, which improves load-based shifting, fuel-sense technology and acceleration-rate management.
Penske Power Systems, which is the longest serving Allison Transmission distributor in Australia, says it has received feedback from many pickup and delivery fleet operators who have transitioned from MT and AMT vehicles, stating they are able to increase their deliveries over the course of the day or, in some cases, reduce the driver’s time behind the wheel by completing the route in less time.
“Customers have told us that when driving a truck equipped with the fully automatic Allison transmission, compared to an MT or AMT, drivers have reported less fatigue,” says Daniel Raine, Penske Power Systems’ National Sales Manager Allison Transmissions. “With the increased focus on the transport industry’s requirement to improve safety measures, reducing driver fatigue is a big tick in the OH&S box for fleet managers.”