Products specifically tailored to each application demonstrate Cummins resolve to optimise its engines to the specific requirements of customers in the B-double segment as well as those in the vocational sector. This is a complex and multi-facetted task, but according to Mike Fowler it is an essential element of Cummins’ ongoing commitment to giving its customers the best solutions for their specific needs.
While it’s all very fine to keep pushing the limits with fuel economy, Cummins knows perhaps better than anyone that its products are working in the ‘real world’ where achieving maximum fuel economy is not necessarily ideal if it comes at the expense of additional trip time, for example.
“Part of the field testing of this powertrain is to make sure that whilst we have an insatiable appetite to improve fuel efficiency at a complete vehicle level, we also want to make sure the performance remains within a tolerable band for our customers,” says Mike. “No one’s going to want to grab three or four percent fuel economy improvement and sacrifice half an hour of trip time between Melbourne and Sydney.
“In isolation across one truck I would argue that historically four percent difference in fuel economy would be within a customer’s margin of error for measurement. But across a fleet of 50 line-haul trucks, which is really what we’re targeting with this powertrain development, that adds up significantly.”
Mike further elaborates on this topic by pointing out that any increase in fuel economy will vary relative to the customer’s baseline measurement.
“If the baseline is a current X15 with an Eaton UltraShift Plus transmission you’ll probably see three to four percent fuel economy improvement,” says Mike. “But if your baseline is an ISX E5 with a manual transmission running 4.1 rears or an earlier EGR unit then the reality is stepping into this latest powertrain you could see north of a 15 per cent fuel economy improvement.”
Shift to Automated
The use of Eaton’s UltraShift Plus AMT is a critical factor in achieving the optimised fuel economy, but historically this is a fact not easily accepted by some Cummins customers who cut their teeth on the venerable manual shift 18-speed RoadRanger.
“One of the shifts we recognised we needed to make, that was really the enabler of this program, was a progressive move of our customer base away from manual transmissions which they’ve largely been tethered to for ever,” says Mike. “The Eaton UltraShift Plus 18-speed has come a long, long way in terms of how smart and slick it operates in a fairly short space of time.
“Even as we look at future fuel economy improvements and vehicle efficiency management features, the automated transmission really is a foundational technology step that we need the customer to take in order for us to deliver these future improvements.”
Other innovative improvements that are at present being trialled to reduce fuel consumption include a range of predictive features based around predictive cruise control. Features like predictive engine fan and air compressor operation will reduce parasitic losses by engaging these ancillaries at times when the engine is not under load.
In conclusion, Mike reiterates that the big step forward for Cummins and the enabler of the Cummins Integrated Powertrain development has been the increasing and progressive acceptance of AMT specifically in the line-haul B-double sector.
Put simply, it enables the full potential of the powertrain package to be realised and eliminates the varying degrees of human error that over time add up to significantly impact fuel economy and overall vehicle efficiency.