Front and centre was electrification of all types of vehicles and components, as the Atlanta-based Technology and Maintenance Council in the USA managed to get the news out just before the Coronavirus pandemic hit America’s shores, earlier this year, Diesel’s US correspondent, Steve Sturgess, reports.
Dana announced it is starting production of its e-axle for medium-duty truck applications, the e-S9000r is based on the proven and widely specified Spicer S110, S111, and S130 rear drive axles, and is engineered as a fully integrated e-axle, including a gearbox and motor.
The eS9000r can be incorporated into most existing chassis, reducing driveline complexity while allowing batteries to be located between the frame rails to simplify truck body positioning. The eS9000r axle also incorporates Dana’s electronically controlled parking pawl system.
Dana says it is the first to market in North America with this e-axle classification and is the only supplier with the in-house capability to manufacture all components of the system, including the gears, axle, motor, and inverter as part of the electrification of all types of vehicles.
Dana also showcased at its booth its innovative partnership with Hyliion in the aftermarket conversion of Class 8 truck tractors to hybrid operation by the substitution of an electric drive axle for a mechanical one.
Effectively Hyliion replaces the second drive axle in a tandem with a Dana axle that incorporates a motor/generator on the nose of the differential. In operation, the electric axle generates electric power through regenerative braking and stores it and controls it through its batteries and electronic controls. In drive mode, the electric axle draws from the batteries to give a full 6×4 drive configuration that is transparent to the driver.
The idea has been around for several years but Dana’s involvement has pushed it to the point where the first three sleeper units are to be delivered to Penske Truck Leasing, which is taking a leadership role in electrification.
Currently Hyliion is aiming towards the electrification of all types of vehicles and is currently converting 6 x 2 chassis, removing the lifting tag axle and replacing with the electric drive. The company is hoping that through the Dana connection, trucks will be built with the electric axle on-line then be shipped for the batteries and electronics to be assembled in its own plant in Pittsburgh.
The trucks are equipped with full aerodynamics packages by FlowBelow around the drive axles and they are zeroing in on sleeper tractors as the batteries double as electric APUs for climate control during driver hours shut-down periods.
A feature of the TMC was the number of trailer aero devices that have become available. They come at a time when the original rear-extending Trailer Tail has been phased out of production by Stemco, which acquired the product from its original developer. Likely the most comprehensive package comes from Michelin which has taken a very technical approach to the problem rather than the origami-like folding-out panels of the Trailer Tail.
In the Energy Guard system approach by Michelin, highly resilient side skirts are featured along with drag reducing trailer end fairings that turn the air into the space behind the doors. These are complemented by a roof rear edge fairing that also spills air into the same space. A highly innovative wake reducer mounts across the rear doors and there are aerodynamic mud flaps which are highly engineered louvers for minimum drag.
As part of the system development, Mesilla Valley Transportation — one of the nation’s most fuel conscious fleets — completed fuel testing and Michelin confidently predicts the system can save 4,400 litres of fuel per 160,000km of trailer travel. This equates to a 7.4 per cent fuel economy improvement at a steady 100 km/h. And unlike the earlier Trailer Tail, there’s no maintenance or driver interaction.
Finally, addressing a very personal issue for me, I focus your attention on the Automated Landing Gear Deployment and Retraction Technology by AIRman products. Their press release says “AIRman’s patent-pending device eliminates the manual cranking required to raise and lower a trailer’s landing gear, thus reducing driver exposure to a variety of musculoskeletal injuries, including damage to shoulders, knees, the back and upper body.” For me it has always been a case of smiting myself in the head when spinning the landing gear crank with a couple of fingers to rapidly raise the legs. You get it spinning only to whack yourself in the head with the handle.
AIRman’s solution is to put an air motor on the cross-shaft between the landing legs and drive them up and down with this. It is by far the simplest automated landing gear system I have seen and it can be OE supplied or retrofitted in less than an hour. I guess I could learn to stay out of the way of whirling handles, but I never have. And this does seem like a great labor-saver as well as safety technology and one that should please a whole lot of drivers.