Looking at the controls for the iShift AMT in the FH shows us how Volvo upgrade and improve electronics. The new FH is now fitted without a manual option in the buttons. It is still possible to hold a gear, when required. In situations like on a steep climb where the grade eases, when holding a gear can be vital. The driver can also manually change gears up or down from the one chosen by the AMT, but it will not hold it all of the time.
There are also a number of controls where the driver can interact with the Dynafleet telematics system. Operators using the system will have separate driver IDs in the system, the driver simply logs in when they climb into the cab. Dynafleet monitors individual driver’s habit and the data is also available using an app on a smartphone. The driver has to physically log in on the truck, but can then look at the report on their phone, accessing the data from the cloud.
Of course, the Volvo also has a prerequisite of every modern truck, an LCD screen with an interface for the entertainment system, as well as any cameras fitted on the truck, satellite navigation, the phone interface using hands free. Most of these functions can be toggled using steering wheel control buttons.
One of the smart ideas built into this FH design is the actual switches themselves. Through the use of CANbus wiring, the switches are interchangeable. The memory of most of the switches’ functions are stored in the unit, which can be unplugged from the switch mounting. It can then be plugged in elsewhere and the CANbus and the switch know which function it needs to control. This means operators can adjust the switch layout to suit the applications it is being used for, to improve ergonomics for the driver.
The reversing alarm which emits a warning sound when a truck is reversing can be de-activated. This is useful where the truck may have to manoeuvre in residential areas at night.
Hill start aid is one of those functions which has become ubiquitous. The function simply holds the brakes on for a couple of second (up to three) when the truck is taking off on a grade, either up or down. As soon and the foot touches the accelerator and there is enough torque available to the driveline for the truck to take off, the system releases the brakes.
In the Volvo FH, the function needs to be turned on for the engine to start. A further safety feature on this model comes in to play when the brakes are released after the three seconds. If the driver has not engaged the AMT and truck begins to roll back, the truck will re-engage the brakes after rolling for a few metres. This is probably not quick enough to stop the trailer damaging the car behind, but will stop the truck rolling away dangerously, in an emergency. Hill start aid systems stop the driver using the accelerator to hold the truck on a grade and damaging the clutch.