Heavy Duty Trucking

JUL 2014

The Fleet Business Authority

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36 HDT • JULY 2014 www.truckinginfo.com but it only went that high once. This proved problematic on another occasion when I was looking for a faster take- off, where 1,900 or 2,000 rpm might have helped. The engine wouldn't let me go there. Cummins says the rpm limiter is a customer-preference setting. Cummins also has developed a clever system called Ve- hicle Acceleration Management that limits power output very judiciously, thus eliminating fast launches. A diligent driver of a loaded truck would never notice the difference. A hot dog driver on a lightly loaded truck might suspect his or her fuel filters were partially plugged. It takes off a little slower than might be expected, but it gets up through the gears quickly enough. During a spell of city driving, I never noticed the transmission hunting for a gear. Every gear choice was the right one and all the shifts were in exactly the right engine speed range. When coasting into a traffic light, it down- shifted low in the engine's rpm range, so I found myself manually downshifting to get the revs up for better engine brake performance. That was done through a simple and intuitive touch of a button on the shifter knob. I did have to slide the fifth wheel forward, and I found that exercise a little awkward without a clutch pedal. The clutch engages as the throttle pedal is depressed, so modu- lating the torque to the drive wheels was a bit tricky. Trzybinski admits it takes a bit of getting used to, and said fleets would be wise to explain to drivers how it should be done before the need arises. "It would be very difficult to damage the clutch do- ing that, because we've added the ability to sense clutch abuse," he says. "If it overheats, a 'clutch abuse' warning light comes on. If the abuse continues, the transmission will eventually not go into gear until it cools down. It's a logged fault code, so drivers with high incidences of CA warnings can be coached." Eaton's product literature says the Fuller Advantage automated transmission weighs just 564 pounds (less clutch housing, lubricant and end yoke), which makes it the lightest automated manual in their portfolio. It uses roughly half the lube of its competitors (based on literature comparisons), and it's much tamer than some of Eaton's past automated manuals. Eaton and Cummins say the SmartAdvantage pow- ertrain offers fuel savings of 3% to 6% compared to a baseline 2013 Cummins ISX15 mated to an LAS (linehaul active shifting) UltraShift Plus transmission. Stacked up, the SmartAdvantage's advantages look pretty appealing. Add to that very, very good drivability, and you have a powertrain option that puts Eaton and Cummins squarely back in the game. The Cummins/Eaton SmartAdvantage powertrain is available at International, Paccar and Volvo. Cummins says the ISX12 diesel will be available with the SmartAdvantage package by the third quarter 2014, and that a package for a higher 110,000 GCW is in the works. n test drive M y experience with the Cum- mins-Eaton SmartAdvantage powertrain was short and sweet, on an urban route near Navistar Inter- national's engine plant in Melrose Park, Ill. The engine-transmission package worked very well, especial- ly while encountering underground utility work in streets just outside the plant's main gate. Slow going through the active construction area and muddy rem- nants of trenches elsewhere in the pavement showed what a conve- nience an automated transmission can be. I threaded the ProStar+ trac- tor and Fontaine flatbed trailer car- rying large concrete blocks through some tight quarters without having to mess with a gearshift lever, and observed that this International is a smooth and quiet machine. We went through city streets with some tight corners and a short stretch of the nearby Eisenhower (I-290) Expressway. Usually, there was a lot of traffic, which made for slow going, again underscoring the work-relieving blessings of an autotranny. SmartAdvantage performed flawlessly. The 450-horsepower, 1,750-pounds-foot ISX15 made all the power we needed to handle a GCW of 76,740 pounds, and the spe- cial 10-speed Eaton Fuller Advan- tage automated transmission up- and downshifted as required and skipped gears when appropriate. Thanks to meticulous programming of the engine's and transmission's electronic controls, most gear changes came at 1,500 rpm or so, and the transmission always knew what to do. Another look at the SmartAdvantage By Tom Berg, Senior Editor At 450 horsepower, the big-block ISX isn't exactly work- ing up a sweat. It's adequately powered, but the 1,750 pounds-feet of torque in the top two gears make it feel a whole lot bigger.

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