Innovations on show at 2010 ITTES

New technology and equipment has always been a draw card at Australian truck shows. At the ITTES held at Melbourne Showgrounds, the trucking industry got a chance to look at new cutting edge ideas as well as some new introductions to the competitive truck market. ?

A number of factors affect the timing and rapidity of the introduction of new technologies and new vehicles. Some changes are forced upon the truck manufacturers by new regulations, but others come from changes in the economic climate and structural changes in the global economy. For some however, it is simply a result of pure innovation – coming up with something new and putting it to market.

There is another step in the ongoing reduction of noxious gases in exhaust emissions with the introduction of ADR80/03 on 1 January 2011. Engines in trucks will have to be compliant with either Euro 5, US EPA 2007 or the Japanese NLT. As a result, just about every truck manufacturer will be fitting new engines or current engines that have been modified with new technology or new after treatment devices.

For some new manufacturers considering entering the market, turning up at the ITTES constitutes more than a testing of the water, rather a show appearance implies a genuine commitment. Australia looks set to see the first appearance of at least two new brands this calendar year. One appearance will be from a familiar name, while the other is a complete newcomer. 

The Australian truck market is always looking for its suppliers to add value to their current offering. The priority for most trucking operators is to improve safety as well as productivity, often in the form of improved fuel economy. New specifications and equipment are being introduced to meet this demand.

One of the new brands to be introduced to the Australian market this year will be the NC2 joint venture between Navistar and Caterpillar.

The Melbourne show was also the first time a Chinese truck manufacturer showed more than just a casual interest in the Australian market. Foton had its Aumark model on display at the Western Star/MAN stand. The first of three models to be introduced attracted a good deal of interest from the passing crowds.

The 4.5 tonne truck comes with a familiar looking Japanese-style cab and a standard drop side flat body. Larger models are expected to follow with a 6.5 tonne version of the Aumark becoming available later this year and then followed by a larger 9.5 tonne model. 

The Beiqi Foton company is the largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in China and ranks second among global truck manufacturers. In 2009 the company produced 600,000 vehicles, 10% of which were for export. Their representative here in Australia is the Western Star organisation who will be importing the new trucks and selling them at five of their truck dealer locations based in the major capital cities.

There are some familiar names associated with the Foton truck. The engine is a Cummins ISF, produced in China. It is a 2.8L common rail turbocharged and intercooled four-cylinder engine putting out 148hp (110kW) at 3400rpm, producing 360Nm of torque at 1800rpm. The engine also uses SCR technology to reduce NOx and comply with exhaust emissions regulations. The other familiar brand name is ZF which supplies a five-speed manual synchronised gearbox on the new Foton truck.

The Cummins ISF engine will be available in two displacements, 2.8 and 3.8 litre. The larger 3.8L ISF is rated at 168hp (125kW) at 2600rpm producing 600Nm of torque at 1300rpm. Cummins is claiming that its design gives the engine a best in class power to weight ratio with a 20% reduction in mass when compared to traditional engine designs, without compromising overall strength. The ISF 2.8 weighs in at 214 kg while the 3.8 is just 280 kg. 

These Cummins engines are manufactured by the Beijing Foton Cummins Engine Company, a joint venture between Cummins and Beiqi Foton. The joint venture plans to manufacture up to 400,000 engines per year and will be Cummins’ highest volume manufacturing plant. 

Another familiar name with a great pedigree in the Australian market was showing a completely new engine range. Detroit Diesel is finally retiring the Series 60 engine to introduce a completely new engine platform with the DD 15 on display for the first time on both the Daimler and Western Star stands.

The new engines are the result of five years and a US$1.5 billion development of a global engine platform. The engines use an Amplified Common-Rail Fuel System (ACRFS). Fuel is held at high pressures in a common rail before having the pressure boosted by injectors when being introduced into the combustion chamber. The design also utilises turbo compounding technology, recovering energy lost in the combustion process and feeding it back from the turbo to the engine’s flywheel. 

The new engines have been very well received on the US truck market with drivers reporting much improved torque response as well as a smoother, quieter ride. The DD15 and DD13 will meet the ADR 80/03 exhaust emission standard and will be able to meet the next stage of exhaust emission regulations with the addition of an SCR unit in the future. 

Initially, the DD 15 and the DD 13 will be available in models from both Freightliner and Western Star but we can expect the engine platform to appear in the other Daimler brands, namely Mercedes-Benz and Fuso, in their heavy-duty offerings across the globe. An engine change for the Mercedes-Benz Actros will be due when the current V6 and V8 engines come to the end of their usable life with the introduction of Euro 6 at the end of 2012. The power plants will be replaced by a six cylinder in-line engine derived from the same core as the DD 15 and 13.

A similar process is likely to take place when the current Fuso engines used in the FV, FS and FP sold here in Australia come to the point where they need to be replaced. Any new engine powering the heavy duty Fuso will feature Japanese characteristics and will surely be based on the same engine platform as the new DD 15 from Detroit Diesel.

On the Fuso stand in the RASV Pavilion, another innovative vehicle was on show: the Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid is being released in 2010. The company already has a number of orders for these trucks, amongst those if Startrack Express which is taking 25 vehicles in the next couple of months. The Fuso Canter Eco Hybrid is designed to improve fuel economy and reduce carbon footprints by using the regenerative power of the hybrid, stored in batteries to supplement power from the diesel engine.

The 3L diesel engine produces just 129hp (95kW) but this is supplemented by a further 47hp (35kW) from the permanent magnet synchronous electric motor fitted at the flywheel. More telling than the horsepower figures are those for torque output. The diesel engine itself generates 294Nm at 1700rpm, but the electric motor gives a real boost to the drive train when the vehicle is taking off. It produces 200Nm from 0 to 1500rpm, giving the truck great pulling power at low speeds and in stop/go type driving.
Further fuel saving is available whenever the truck is stationary. The engine will automatically switch off, turning back on again when the Fuso five speed automated manual transmission engages the clutch to set off. 

The show was also an opportunity for Kenworth to show off its latest addition to truck specifications throughout its range. The Kenworth Electronic Brake Safety System sees the introduction of electronic safety and braking systems on its traditionally designed trucks. The option is based on the Bendix ABS-6 braking control technology, incorporating Electronic Stability Program (ESP). 

The new EBSS will be available at three levels of specification. The first includes anti-lock braking, automatic traction control, drag torque control and electronic brake force distribution, the second level adds the electronic stability program, while the third level adds a trailer response management system for prime movers pulling trailers fitted with EBS. 

Visitors to the inaugural ITTES in 2008 had a chance to look at the Kenworth T608 Innovation Truck that the company had on display. It was used as a test bed for many developing technologies. Several of the items included in that groundbreaking truck have now become specifications available to anyone purchasing a truck coming down the production line at the Bayswater plant. Apart from the EBSS system unveiled here, LNG engine options are also available.

These are just some of the innovations on display at the recent ITTES. Many other display stands had new ideas to stimulate interest and attract comment. Among them were the Scania low entry cab and the eco-fridge using quiet and environmentally friendly liquid nitrogen to hold temperature without the use of diesel and without creating noise. 

Innovation and ideas are the lifeblood of the Australian trucking industry and the ITTES was yet again a demonstration of the industry and its constant search for better solutions and smart technology.

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