Off-highway OEMs today face unprecedented challenges in the development of new vehicles, as they face increasingly strict emissions standards and end-user demand for better fuel efficiency that must be balanced with minimizing cost of ownership.
The solutions to these issues are technologically complex, especially in a global market where regional regulatory requirements and customer preferences must also be accommodated. Now more than ever, OEMs are looking for a Tier 1 supplier with expertise across a broad range of technologies and a commitment to regional markets that not only meets today’s challenges but also anticipates challenges on the horizon.
At Dana, we are working with OEMs around the world to leverage our technological leadership and global footprint to provide solutions in powertrain and drivetrain systems that reduce fuel consumption and emissions while increasing productivity and lowering the overall cost of ownership and operation.
These efforts are reflected in our rapidly growing commitment to innovation and technology leadership, as well as our growing pipeline of products and technologies. Last year, Dana increased spending on engineering by 17% to $155 million, which is being used to attract top-grade talent and further enhance our industry-leading capabilities across Dana’s 15 global technical centers.
This commitment to technology leadership and product excellence is especially evident in emerging markets around the world, including China, India, and Brazil. We are capitalizing on the considerable expertise that has been cultivated at our engineering and manufacturing technical centers in North America and Europe to facilitate a rapid knowledge transfer to regions where our customers are located.
Dana will open a 130,000-ft2 (12,100-m2) technical center in Wuxi, Jiangsu, China, this summer that will provide advanced development and a full range of engineering capabilities to deliver globally leading products and technologies, including off-highway axles and transmissions.
Later this year, we will expand our engineering operations in India by opening a 125,000-ft2 (11,600-m2) technical center in Pune, India, to provide design, testing, and analytical support for each of Dana’s primary markets—light vehicle, commercial vehicle, and off-highway—all under a single roof. And we are quickly ramping up our research and development capabilities at our technical center in Gravatai, Brazil to more closely align with our customers throughout South America.
Our technology leadership places us in a position to align strategically with our customers and with partners to leverage our individual strengths and quickly bring advanced solutions to market. This is why Dana and Bosch Rexroth have formed Dana Rexroth Transmission Systems, a 50/50 joint venture based in Arco, Italy, that develops and manufactures advanced powersplit drive transmissions for the off-highway market.
Dana’s expertise in drivetrain system engineering, controls, and manufacturing along with Bosch Rexroth’s deep experience in hydraulics and systems engineering deliver a unique combination of advanced transmission solutions. The Dana Rexroth HVT improves drivetrain fuel efficiency by up to 20% and improves productivity by enabling sensitive, precise vehicle positioning and stepless drive with uninterrupted acceleration. It occupies the same space within the design envelope as conventional torque converter transmissions, and the HVT’s increased efficiency allows for engine downsizing.
As a global supplier of driveline, sealing, and thermal-management technologies for passenger and commercial vehicles, Dana has some advantages that other Tier 1 drivetrain supplier do not. For example, Dana recently introduced the Spicer Central Tire Inflation System (CTIS), which delivers enhanced mobility and reduced fuel consumption for agricultural equipment.
Based on more than a decade of product development and field-proven by thousands of military vehicles in operation today, the Spicer CTIS is designed to maximize the mobility of tractors, combines, and harvesters by adjusting tire pressure to provide the optimum machine operation on any given terrain. Available now for testing by OEMs and with production scheduled to start later this year, the Spicer CTIS enhances productivity in field operating environments through optimized traction, leak detection, and reduced soil compaction, while extending tire life, improving fuel economy, and increasing vehicle stability during on-road transport.
Dana is also actively developing a number of innovative power technologies products for vehicular and other mobile applications, including fuel cell, battery cooling, active warm-up, and hybrid technologies to assist vehicle manufacturers in achieving fuel efficiency improvements and reductions in emissions. We continuously work with OEMs to determine where these and other advanced technologies can benefit off-highway customers.
Sustainability is defined on a region-by-region basis, so our global footprint allows Dana to work side-by-side with manufacturers to provide solutions customized to individual markets. In China, sustainability efforts are focused on systems that reduce fuel consumption and help customers improve productivity and vehicle uptime over the long term.
Early this year, Dana launched the production of the Spicer TZL16 transmission, the first of a new line of powershift transmissions for premium front-end loaders manufactured in China. First unveiled at Bauma China 2010, the Spicer TZL Series has been specially designed with an optimized configuration of proven technologies—helical gearing; electrical, adaptive, and ECM controls; internal plumbing; vertical filtering; rotating shafts; and long-life gears, bearings, and clutches—to supply front-end loaders with higher horsepower capability, reduced maintenance, and smoother, quieter operation.
While sustainability is a universal concern for off-highway manufacturers around the world, the solutions vary greatly from application to application, industry to industry, and region to region. The ideal partner is the one that can leverage decades of technological leadership and a deep, nuanced understanding of regional requirements, governmental regulations, and customer preferences to deliver reliable, durable, and robust solutions that increase fuel efficiency, reduce emissions, and maximize the return on investment throughout the life cycle of the application.
George Constand, Chief Technical & Quality Officer, Dana Holding Corp., wrote this article for SAE Off-Highway Engineering.