More, Please

More, please: OEMs, as well as end users want more from their drivetrains. They're getting it.

When New Holland introduced its W170B and W190B wheel loaders with the new Tier 3 New Holland 667TA/EB3 six cylinder, 411 cid engine, improved fuel economy was among the top selling points.

"While these new units are more powerful than before, they also deliver better fuel economy," New Holland Brand Marketing Manager Eric Winkler said when the machines were introduced. The machines are easier to operate, too. Four different power modes allow the operator to select the appropriate horsepower and hydraulic flow for the job.

The requirements placed on drivetrain system components now could only be dreamed of 30 years ago. Cost reduction, less fuel consumption and increased productivity are the main topics of the construction industry. Many new product presentations, innovations and technical performance specifications are putting user benefits in focus.

Power still has to be directed to the wheels in an efficient manner, but engineers at component specialists such as ZF Passau GmbH are placing an emphasis on:

  • less fuel consumption
  • reduced tire wear
  • increased productivity
  • reduced oil consumption
  • extended oil change intervals
  • noise reduction
  • higher levels of automation
  • improved shift quality
  • easier operation

A few months ago, an active 100-year-old quarry in Germany's Swabian Alb, near the town of Lenningen, provided the perfect setting for ZF Passau GmbH's Off-Road Driveline Technology and Axle Systems division to showcase the variety of equipment its drivetrain components can be found in. About 20 construction machines ranging from dump trucks to motor graders demonstrated ZF's product portfolio in practical applications. Using real-world conditions, the event displayed market demands for increased efficiency, enhanced comfort and consideration of environmental aspects.

ZF, which stands for "Zahnradfabrik", or gear factory, was originally founded by Count Ferdinand Graf von Zeppelin to produce precision gears for the count's dirigibles. Modern day transmission and axle requirements mean that ZF is marrying software to its precision gears.

Among the machines available for a test drive was the same New Holland W190B wheel loader used in the 2006 James Bond movie "Casino Royale." Still owned by New Holland, the movie-star wheel loader has been making the rounds at customer events, much like an actor on a talk-show circuit.

The wheel loader is supported by a pair of compact ZF-supplied MT-L 3095 and MT-L 3085 Multitrac axles, noted for stability and lightness. The axles are equipped with integrated, wet multi-disk brakes. Precise gear meshing helps ensure low noise and the axles require a minimum amount of maintenance.

Working between the New Holland six-cylinder engine and the axles is ZF's 4WG 210 Ergopower transmission, which is also designed to do its job quietly while offering operator comfort and easier handling, high shifting quality and flexibility. Moreover, the operating costs can be further reduced.

Both the ZF Multitrac and Ergopower provide additional possibilities for the OEM by connecting to an electronic driveline management system.

The New Holland W190B offers four power modes: the Max Power Mode allows the operator to work in tough environments by delivering peak horsepower and maximum hydraulic flow; Standard Power Mode lowers the engine output while still providing maximum hydraulic flow; Economy Power Mode is for lift-and-carry operations; and Auto Power Mode turns the decision over to the machine, which automatically matches the power curve to the application.

Also available for driving around the quarry was one of ZF's wheel loader test rigs equipped with the supplier's new efficiency package.

With the efficiency package, ZF consolidates its transmission, axle and software development, thus offering more than the sum of individual advantages. The efficiency package offers increased productivity and enhanced operating and comfort for the driver by reducing operating and maintenance costs. ZF says that full utilization of the efficiency package will provide up to 20% fuel savings.

The test vehicle was equipped with a ZF Ergopower transmission and Ergocontrol and Multitrac axles. The new five-speed transmission was equipped with an Ergolockup converter lock-up clutch, Ergotraction interwheel differential lock management and Ecotraction axle disconnect. A software package ties it all together.

Ecotraction offers the advantage of automatic axle disconnect at the transmission. The electronic transmission control identifies changes from rough terrain to the road or situations where all-wheel-drive is no longer required. In these cases, it automatically disengages the all-wheel-drive or reengages it for on-site operation.

The automatic axle disconnect contributes to a reduction of the fuel consumption during on-road operation. Driving performance is improved, and driveline components and tires are protected.

Ergolockup ensures that at low speeds the Ergopower converter lock-up clutch is applied by modulation via the software. The effect of this function is of particular benefit to transmissions with five gears since, in this case, the converter lock-up clutch can be closed when shifting gears.

Depending on the application conditions, the fuel consumption can be reduced by 10% to 15%. In addition, a lower engine speed further reduces noise emissions.

New transmissions for construction machines offer the market new standards. In particular, their design helps increase both their service life as well as their reliability. Consequently, construction machines offer more working comfort and better economic efficiency. With the modular construction and cost-optimized design, operating costs are kept as low as possible.