ZF is set to launch its new TraXon automated truck transmission at the 2012 IAA show in Hannover this September. A completely new design, TraXon is based on a modular concept which offers a versatile solution to a broad range of product applications.
Some of the highlight features of the transmission include improved torque capabilities, higher gear speed, lower noise characteristics, and for different applications it can be driven via either a single or twin-plate dry clutch, a hybrid module, a dual clutch module or a torque converter. Further to this, TraXon can be combined with an engine-dependent power take-off (PTO).
One of the key innovations TraXon brings to the market is the revolutionary PreVision GPS shifting strategy, which uses satellite derived location data to improve fuel economy and performance. PreVision works in unison with progressive control software to optimise gearshifts in relation to the topography and direction of the road.
At the core of the transmission are a splitter group, main group and range-change group, as well as twin countershafts and a single main shaft. Able to handle torque input considerably higher than 3000 Nm (2212 lb ft), it’s available in 12 and 16-speed models, with both available in either direct or overdrive top gear iterations. The ‘box also comes with a range of reverse gear options including up to four ratios.
According to ZF, the unit features a high transmission spacing which eases clutch loadings to deliver a balanced and comfortable drive. And by integrating a new anti-rattling damper alongside the new gearing design, along with innovations in the housing, transmission noise has been reportedly reduced by six dB compared to the current AS-Tronic transmission.
In addition to the single and twin-plate dry clutch options, ZF says its Traxon hybrid module will be the first hybrid option widely available for the heavy-duty commercial vehicle market. An electric motor with 120 kW of power combined with a separating clutch enables hybrid functions such as recuperation, electric driving, boosting, and an engine stop-start function. It can be also used to power auxiliaries such as cab temperature control and other electrical appliances when the vehicle’s engine isn’t operating.
The Traxon dual clutch module, meanwhile, is said to be at the cutting edge of a future trend in truck transmissions. In the name of fuel saving, very tall rear axle ratios can be used to provide significant reductions in engine speed whilst in top gear.
For a traditional automatic transmission, this would drastically increase the shift frequency, especially when dealing with slight uphill gradients; but with the dual clutch module it is possible to perform these downshifts and upshifts under load and without torque interruption, optimising fuel economy.
The system can be also specified with a torque converter for use in heavy-duty prime mover applications.
An engine-dependent PTO module is also available, which is installed between the transmission and the vehicle’s engine. It is ideal for auxiliary features that require high torque, for example concrete agitators, fire trucks and mobile cranes.
Another key feature of the TraXon transmission is a standardised software platform for all variants, with sensors relaying vital information to ensure premium shifting strategies. Inputs such as pitch, direction of rotation, and speeds are used to allow for TraXon’s anticipatory shifting strategy and rolling function.
Meanwhile, ZF reiterates the PreVision GPS function sets TraXon apart as a world leader, with GPS map information used to eliminate needless gear changing, for instance before gradients or sharp bends.
Efficiency is also gained through the rolling function, which puts the transmission in ‘angel’ gear (neutral) on slight slopes with engine speed reduced to idle for maximised fuel saving. When coupled with PreVision GPS, steep slopes are anticipated and the engine and transmission brakes applied rather than the rolling function, thus preserving the service brakes.
ZF expects the transmission will be available to the market in late 2013 or early 2014. As with its AS-Tronic stablemate, TraXon transmission customers will be fully supported for all servicing and spare parts requirements by ZF Services Australia.