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Joint venture releases automated transmission

Posted: October 6, 2017 by John G. Smith

ATLANTA, GA – The first product unveiled through a joint venture between Eaton and Cummins has officially emerged in the form of a 12-speed automated transmission.

The Endurant transmission – coming from the appropriately named Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies — is promoted as the lightest 1,850-lb-ft-capable heavy-duty transmission in the market, supporting weight-sensitive linehaul applications hauling Gross Vehicle Weights up to 110,000 pounds. With a wet weight of 657 pounds it also scales about 105 pounds less than competing Automated Manual Transmissions and is 200 pounds lighter than the current Fuller Advantage Series.

The 12-speed twin countershaft design with helical gearing was designed with a ratio coverage to support aggressive downspeeding as well.

The transmission is available with Cummins X15 Efficiency Series engines, and production begins this October for Kenworth T680 and Peterbilt 579 trucks.

 “This is a major announcement for us,” said general manager Scott Davis.

Just don’t call it an Automated Manual Transmission. The pneumatically actuated Endurant was purpose-built as an automated design, making it possible to optimize weights, dimensions, and a variety of other features. There’s no cooler to be found.

Eaton was already in the midst of developing the product when the joint venture was announced August 1.

One of the most prominent benefits comes in the form of a 1.2 million-kilometer oil change interval despite just 7.6 liters of oil. A transmission fluid pressure sensor notifies drivers about any low levels.

“Fleets no longer have to worry about burnouts from low lube,” said Gerard DeVito, vice president – technology, Eaton Vehicle Group.

Rather than leaving gears to mesh in the oil, generating unwanted heat and requiring a cooler, the oil is sprayed on gears specifically where it’s needed. That reportedly boosts fuel economy 1-1.5%.

The transmission comes with a 430-mm self-adjusting clutch that doesn’t require any grease. A smart prognostic feature also notifies users about the time to replace clutches when it comes, while there’s also an eight-bolt PTO opening. And electrical systems have been routed internally to minimize exposure to the elements.

 “There’s very little hanging on the outside of the transmission,” DeVito added.

The linear clutch actuator can be changed without removing the transmission, and the input shaft wear sleeve can also be repaired quickly, representatives of the joint venture add.

It all fits inside an aluminum enclosure.

Many ideas about the overall architecture, design, and features emerged through 400 hours of consultations with three customer councils that drew upon maintenance managers, drivers and service teams.

Early computer analytics helped to accelerate the development process, too, leaving tests to validate what was already expected, said DeVito. But real-world tests have still put the transmission through its paces. The equivalent of more than 3.2 million kilometers of field tests were gathered in environments from the high heats of Death Valley to -40 Fahrenheit temperatures of Marshall, Minnesota.

 “This is the most exciting product I’ve ever seen come to this industry,” said DeVito, referring to things like gear logic that is closely integrated with the engine.

About 70% of linehaul trucks now incorporate Automated Manual Transmissions, compared to take rates of 10-15% as recently as 2011, Davis adds. Larger shares are expected.

“The odds of getting to 100%, I don’t think are there,” he admitted, referring to heavy haulers with highly skilled drivers who might still want a manual transmission.

But other variants of the Endurant are coming, too.

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