Meritor unveils plan for ‘intelligent’ axle
The electronic revolution shaping the truck industry seems to be permeating every vehicle system imaginable. And now Meritor says it is working on a electronic control system that will dramatically enhance gear efficiencies inside its truck axles.
At a press briefing May 22 at Meritor’s Cameri Axle Plant outside of Milan, Italy, Chief Axle Engineer Fabio Santinato told North American truck journalists about the new 17X Logic Drive system, which he says currently offers signifiant enhancements in fuel economy for trucks in long-haul applications.
At its core, the 17X LogicDrive concept is simple. Oil in an axle has two basic functions: lubricate and cool the internal gearing system. But a phenomenon called “oil splash” inside the axle causes a parasitic horsepower loss. Essentially, the presence of oil in the axle forces an engine to work harder and burn more fuel to turn the gears. And the more oil in axle, the harder the engine has to work.
Santinato says Meritor engineers are currently working with several 17X LogicDrive prototypes that will use electronic control modules to add or reduce oil in axle to meet driving conditions and enhance fuel economy.
The ECM modules continuously monitor operating variables such temperature, torque, vehicle speed and braking demands. When the truck is at highway cruise speeds and less oil is needed to lubricate and cool the internal gears, the system pulls oil out of the housing and stores in a holding tank. When more oil is needed, say when climbing a grade or in heavy braking situations, the system automatically adds oil to the housing to meet those demands.
The system is still under development. But Santinato says it is already demonstrating a fuel economy improvement of .05 percent compared to conventional truck axle systems.