Cummins banks on advanced powertrain technologies
Looking at India as an important market, Cummins Inc. is banking on advanced powertrain technologies to be a provider of choice.
Cummins Inc. has announced an investment of Rs 1000 crore to Rs 1500 crore to set up a technology centre in Pune, and of Rs 300 crore to develop BS-VI technologies and expansion of manufacturing facilities at Phaltan.
Said to be the biggest among its technology centres, the Pune project is expected to go on stream in a few months. Srikanth Padmanabhan, President, Cummins Engine Business, said that a transformation has been under way at Cummins India, and in line with the global growth strategy of the parent, a conscious alignment of product portfolio has been on to make it ‘fit-for-market’. Cummins is keen to provide a host of integrated solutions and the ‘powertrain provider of choice’,
The company will give importance to R&D and electrification of powertrains to be a super powertrain provider for commercial vehicles. Describing India as a key market for the company, Padmanabhan said that “the focus will be on energy diversity, connectivity and automation. The disruptive market drivers that have stemmed from a spate of regulations are compelling Cummins to lower the carbon footprint, and apply relevant technologies”.
New powertrain technologies
Cummins wants to offer advanced powertrain technologies by leveraging its global know-how in combination with the capabilities it has built in India. Cummins is tapping new opportunities for its engine and components product portfolio to be a leading provider of advanced commercial vehicle electrification technologies, Padmanabhan said. Specialising in turbo and after-treatment
technologies, the company wants to work closely with its clients and help them to follow the new regulations.
Cummins wants to pass on the benefits to the end customer by digging into its technological know-how, and by leveraging its capabilities as the market moves to BS-VI emission regulations, and looks at alternate propulsion mediums. “We will continue to do both for fuel efficiency and total cost of ownership,” Padmanabhan said. Additional work on the simulation of the engine would be done for the SuperTruck I and SuperTruck II. The R&D activity of the company is divided between the base engine and components, he said.
In 2010, the US Department of Energy (DoE) initiated the SuperTruck programme to improve long-haul Class 8 vehicle freight efficiency, a metric using payload weight and fuel efficiency defined as tonne-miles per gallon. Three projects are under way. One is a Cummins-Peterbilt project. The other 2 are programmes involving Daimler Trucks North America, and Navistar Inc, respectively. Dubbed as SuperTruck II, the 5-year $160-million programme will see the 4 teams that participated in the SuperTruck I project to look at far exceeding the results achieved in the earlier project.
On SuperTruck I, the participants spent $258 million – a combination of federal funding and their own money. SuperTruck II is looking for a 100% increase in freight-hauling efficiency and a new engine-efficiency standard of 55%, a 31% increase from a 2009 baseline measurement. While freight efficiency is the amount of freight carried and miles travelled for each gallon of fuel consumed, engine efficiency, known as Brake Thermal Efficiency (BTE), is the ratio of fuel energy converted to power output at the engine’s crankshaft. The industry average BTE for a 2009 Class 8 engine was 42%. The goal of SuperTruck I was 50%. The goal of SuperTruck II is 100%.
Applying the technological success of SuperTruck projects to real world CVs, especially Class 8 trucks, Cummins released X15 engine series, a new diesel engine piston design and turbocharging system for Volvo Trucks North America. A redesigned 13-litre N13 engine is claimed to use several SuperTruck project-developed improvements, including new control logic and a high-efficiency combustion system. “The focus is to leverage electronics in the interest of connected technologies and intelligence,” Padmanabhan said. In the realm of powertrain integration, the company is looking to integrate the engine, transmission, axles, and brakes in an effort to offer higher value. Connected software, over the air calibrations, diagnostics and prognostics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Data Analytics (DA) are the key focus areas.
“Powertrain development is driven by changing emission norms. It is application-driven in niche markets,” Brett Merritt, General Manager, Global On-Highway Engine Business, said. The B-Series engines are the largest selling and has a large market share in South America, North America, India and China,” he said. Modifying the B-Series engine to accommodate a fourcylinder version from light-duty cycles, Cummins has come to have an ability to offer tailored solutions.
In China, the company builds a 12-litre engine since the power and torque needs fail to justify the use
of a 15-litre engine. Rather than costs, the evolution of engines is increasingly linked with emissions. Costs matter, but technology and utilisation are taking precedence. “There is a need to set aside future technologies. They will start playing out in the next 5 years,” Merritt said.
Cummins is working to offer fully-electric powertrains by 2019. Range extended engines will be offered a year later. These, according to Padmanabhan, would be aimed at buses, pickups and delivery vans. As a system integrator, the company is looking at both, a battery-electric and a range extender. Focus areas in the realm of components include aligning materials to the vision of attaining a fully-electric powertrain. Focus is on battery pack management rather than the battery cells. Power electronics from a thermal management point of view is another area of focus for Cummins. The ultimate objective is to come up with a solution that is reliable and of high quality. Hybrid powertrains would be offered for heavy-duty applications initially, he said.
“Electrification of the auxiliaries is the need of the hour. By 2019, a cost- effective start-up solution with specific duty cycles will find its way to the Indian market,” Merritt said. The joint venture between Cummins and Eaton for M&HCVs, started in April 2017, will offer an Automated Manual Transmission (AMT) product portfolio in the US. Eaton will bring a strong brand and service presence, and a significant market share on the heavy duty side. Cummins will bring its engine expertise and a strong presence to the table. To work in the interest of a sustainable product plan for 5 years, the JV will focus on the development of advanced AMTs and integrated powertrains. It will also look at the development of a service network, and help design, assemble and support all future M&HCV automated transmissions. The JV is expected to expand its presence to the world markets, including India.
The demand for reduction in carbon footprint and increase in fuel efficiency will continue to be a significant calling factor as far as technology is concerned, Jennifer Rumsey, Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, Cummins Inc., said.
Diesel may continue to play a significant role in some of the markets that Cummins is present in for a long time. The trend for the future seems to paint a contrasting picture pointing at a move away from diesel. Rumsey said that “they will continue to evolve and we will provide a super power solution for CVs for transportation, off-highway, and stationary applications,” she explained.
The super power solution includes a continued focus on the internal combustion engine and its key components. Aware that the success in Indian market depends on the ability to be frugal, Cummins is working towards meeting the BS-VI challenge. Pursuing the ‘fit for market’ strategy in India, the company is addressing the need for a unique design and build methodology. “I am confident that this will increase speed as well as output. This is a critical period for the Indian market. The NOx levels on highways are expected to go down by 30% this year. They are expected to go down by 90% when BS-VI emission norms are enforced”, Rumsey said.
According to Sherry Aaholm, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, the company, through ‘Digital Accelerator’ initiative is taking new business concepts from the idea stage to commercial stage by leveraging resources from business units and functions.
“One such new venture is Zed Connect which offers a smartphone app. called ed. It was designed to electronically log hours for truck drivers and provide other key features for drivers and fleet. For such technologies to come to India may take time. We will need advanced powertrains that will help CV makers to be BSVI emission standards compliant,” Aaholm said.
Cummins will offer advanced powertrain technologies by tapping new opportunities in the area of engines and components.
Srikanth Padmanabhan, President, Cummins Engine Business, stressed on R&D and electrification of commercial vehicle powertrains.
Jennifer Rumsey, Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, Cummins Inc., “The Eaton JV will help address the demand for carbon footprint reduction and fuel efficiency rise.
Sherry Aaholm, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, pointed at the digital accelerator initiative.