Designing toward future-proof technology

  • 13-Apr-2015 01:53 EDT

ZF's TERRA+ is a high-voltage generator system integrated in the transmission to supply electrical power to electrified implements. Shown is a prototype ZF fielded in the past for an agricultural application.

Resource shortages, rising market requirements, and legal provisions like Tier 4 force the construction machinery industry all over the world to rethink designs. Demands for optimized fuel usage, higher efficiency, and cost reduction set the trends in the off-highway sector. In view of such different requirements, global companies like ZF need well-matched driveline technologies depending on product and market strategies.

ZF offers a wide range of different products for the off-highway market. Three technology levels comprise the so called Premium Line, High Line, and Basic Line components addressing the different market and customer needs. For the Premium Line level, ZF has recently introduced its new CVT transmission—cPOWER—for construction- and forestry machinery.

The tendency toward lower engine speeds and the demand for engine stabilization by a constant speed concept are the future challenges on the market. ZF trusts in its continuously variable technology to meet both requirements.

Hydrostatic-mechanically power-split transmissions offer considerable consumption benefits with concurrent higher performance over hydrodynamic transmissions and completely hydrostatic concepts. Excellent efficiency is achieved even in low speed and high torque operation such as bucket filling.

Our CVT technology benefits from the long-term experience with hydrostatic powersplit gearboxes gained in the agricultural machinery sector where we also extended our portfolio with the new hydrostatic powersplit transmission, TMT11, suitable for tractors in the range of 90 to 120 hp (67 to 89 kw). It comprises a two-range dual clutch module and offers full power shuttle functionalities.

Another important trend we see is in technologies such as fleet management and condition monitoring, which determine the state of operation, performance, and health of vehicles and driveline components. These technologies can be used to effectively ensure important key elements such as uptime and availability of machines.

For these upcoming technologies ZF has established its own product line called Openmatics, an open telematics system that can be configured freely through the user and includes hardware for remote access and logging of vehicle data and various apps ranging from condition monitoring to a complete fleet management.

Besides increased efficiency and cost reduction, the tendency toward more environmental protection and preservation of resources influences decisions on transmission technology. With its hybrid system, ZF is keeping pace with this trend. As a specialist for driveline technology we can offer hybrid technology comprising electric machines and complete hybrid systems all from one source.

In particular for agricultural vehicles the electrification of implements will become an important technology to boost productivity and efficiency. ZF has a product to cater for that development: the ZF TERRA+, a high-voltage generator system integrated in the transmission to supply electrical power to electrified implements. ZF has built up a prototype in the past and tested it extensively in field conditions amongst others with an electrified air seeder from AMAZONE, which showed the potentials of electrification for such applications.

For the future an increasing need for driver assistance systems is to be expected. In the agriculture- and mining-industry, systems for driver assistance with autonomous or semi-autonomous operation of vehicles have already been introduced in the recent years. Implementations for these technologies are still in early stages but we do expect to see that soon also for off-highway applications driven by the rapid development in automotive markets. With the acquisition of the automotive supplier TRW, ZF is now also in a position to offer products for this important future field of technology.

Hermann Beck, Senior Executive Vice President, Industrial Technology, ZF, wrote this article for SAE Off-Highway Engineering.

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