ZF technology centre in India

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ZF Friedrichshafen AG has commissioned a technology centre at Hyderabad to pursue progress in the digital space.

Story by:

Bhushan Mhapralkar

Present in India since 1982 through joint ventures until it set up its own subsidiary at Pune in 2007, ZF Friedrichshafen AG has commissioned a technology centre at Hyderabad. Spanning 100,000 sq. ft., the technology centre will help the tier 1 automotive supplier to pursue progress in the digital space. Adding to ZF’s manufacturing footprints at Coimbatore and Pune, the technology centre highlight’s ZF’s commitment to India where it will be investing Euro 15 million over the next five years. Apart from fostering high-end innovations which will focus on bringing advanced technology to India as well as localise strategic business activities including research, design and development for global market initiatives, the centre will also look at leveraging academic research communities from India. To be dedicated to electronics, embedded software and mechanical engineering, the centre will support ZF’s global development teams, enabling the company to accelerate local product development. Built in a short span of eight months, the centre, according to Mamatha Chamarthi, Chief Digital Officer of ZF, will become a pillar of innovation for the company.

Leveraging frugal engineering qualities

Aiming to leverage the frugal engineering abilities India is known for through the technology centre, Chamarthi said that they are looking at creating a low cost model of its nine-speed transmission that is offered to commercial vehicle OEMs in India. Announcing that the technology centre at Hyderabad will play a crucial role in carrying our safe routing as part of ZF’s three main stays – see, think and act, ZF CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer, said, “The safe routing of technologies as we expect significant change in automobiles comes under the think part.” Dedicated to electronics, embedded software and mechanical engineering, the technology centre at Hydreabad will support ZF’s global development teams, enabling the tier 1 automotive supplier to accelerate local product development and support its non-automotive operations as well as customers.

Looking at harnessing the skill set present in India to develop world class technology solutions for ZF across the globe, in addition to accelerating local product development, the technology centre, said Chamarthi, would provide employment to 2500 individuals by 2020. “Our focus when it comes to digitisation is on our products. We are looking at many things; transmissions in CVs for example can be connected and monitored to help with remote diagnostics, and move forward to prognostics and maintenance,” she added. Stating that they are looking at different business models like not charging for the entire transmission at once, and charging only a quarter of it, Mamatha said, “We are looking not just at technology but also at how it can help us to come up with different business policies. Not just to support organic growth but to support new revenue models that contribute to growth.”

ZF Friedrichshafen am 20.09.2016 bei der IAA Hannover

Premium, and cost effective

With all five divisions of the ZF Group represented in the Indian market, and having local production companies that manufacture parts for diverse vehicle applications, it is not tough to understand and acknowledge ZF’s intention to increase its footprint in India. Said Sommer, “The motivation for the technology centre at Hyderabad came from the company’s digitisation strategy. There is a huge need in software capacity and expertise to serve the digital future of our products. With software as the main point, the centre at Hyderabad will support all our technology centres in the world. It will also help us to stay close to our customers by leveraging new software and intelligence of our think, act and see strategy.” The technology centre at Hyderabad, apart from helping ZF to set up a strong footprint in India, will help the group to support customers to achieve ambitious fuel efficiency targets the government has set. ZF has a lot of technologies to offer. These would effectively contribute to the group’s customers addressing regulatory and other market needs. The technology centre at Hyderabad, said Sommer, give us an opportunity to have the right technology from the cost and performance perspective.

ZF India Technology Center Inauguration by the hands of Mr. K. T Rama Ra... copy

A brainchild of Mamatha who comes from the TRW side of the business, the technology centre at Hyderabad has a lot riding on it. While Mamatha is keen to replicate ‘M-city’ (University of Michigan Mobility Transformation Center) at Hyderabad in association with the Telangana Government, according to Sommer, ZF is looking at being balanced and modular. Said Sommer, “ZF has traditionally been stronger in the high cost market. The TRW acquisition gives us an opportunity to push our case for cost efficient technology. TRW has excellent cost position when it comes to their products, and have premium technology and quality. We have learned a lot from TRW, and the strategy is to have market share in performance as well as cost effective areas of the business.”

ZF and auto megatrends

ZF has identified three megatrends in automobiles. It has added safety to these three megatrends to arrive at a zero accidents level. Said Sommer, “We feel that safety is an important element. Autonomous driving, as a megatrend, is a challenge. It is life spent in different ways for the end customer, for us the need is to comply with occupant safety. If autonomous driving wil bring value, we need to rethink the safety systems to be more flexible.” Interestingly, the engineers at ZF are looking at having airbags outside the vehicle to absorb impact energy and not let it reach the vehicle, and its occupants inside. Such technologies, it is clear, would call for sensors that not only let the vehicle to drive itself in traffic, but to also avoid crashes. The ‘extra safe’ technology ZF has developed is to prevent collisions. Electric gadgets are used to drive the tech, including a smart device. Vehicle position is automatically transmitted to the cloud to make a truly connected environment. With existing automobiles expected to be on the road for quite some time, to arrive at zero-accident autonomous vehicle environment, the use of smart device may make for faster progress according to Sommer. “Safety as a third megatrend has us investing in it in the form of technologies and solutions,” said Sommer.

ZF, Innovator Mamatha Chamarthi +++ indirekter Mitarbeiter

ZF is putting in place a global engineering strategy. The strategy is being aligned to the talent available. “In India, the talent is about new age technology,” said Mamatha. “The commissioning of the tech centre at Hyderabad in eight months was made possible because of innovation thereby, and agile processes,” she added. According to Mamatha, ZF is keen to leverage the problem solving mindset and the analytical nature of Indian talent to gather data and process it into intelligence that can be fed to make an actuator work. ZF, for CVs, apart from supplying axles, transmissions, etc., is offering Openmatics. It is a smart telematics platform that enables remote monitoring of truck fleets. ZF initially provided the hardware, but has now begun doing the software part too. This involves visualisation of data. It is an area that ZF is tinkering with according to Mamatha. Openmatics, she said, has grown into a Euro 100 million business.

At CES 2017, ZF showcased two specific technologies – Block chain and extra safe. Extra safe is not about every individual subscribing to it. It is about incorporating intelligence in the components of CVs that ZF builds. It would be app.-based. It would be about connecting and sharing the geo position. The cloud-based algorithm receives the data and processes it such that it can be applied to different situations. For example, to let a vehicle know that a pedestrian is walking towards the vehicle from behind another vehicle or similar such object such that the driver of the vehicle, or the vehicle itself is not able to see him. The vehicle can take action; the pedestrian can take action. Multiple such applications can be done, adding a concrete dimension to digitisation. Through the tech centre at Hyderabad, ZF is expected to look at building a predictive maintenance platform credibility. It could be made available to all the components ZF offers. ZF is partnering with GE for data monetisation by sharing best business practices according to Mamatha. ZF is keen to get into that space too. It is exploring, without getting away from its position as a mechatronics intelligence company. ZF is keen to venture into the space, and understand what Google is doing as Google ventures into the auto space and tries to understand what companies like ZF are doing. ZF is setting up a centre in Silicon Valley with Plug and Play as a partner.

ZF innovations at SIAT 2017

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At the Symposium on International Automotive Technology 2017 (SIAT 2017) held at Pune recently, ZF showcased innovative products like Mstars, Ecotronic, and an aluminium control rod. Organised by ARAI in Association with SAEINDIA, NATRiP and SAE International, the fair saw ZF’s Mstars semi-trailing arm rear suspension attracting good deal of attention. Ecotronic, which also received good attention, is commercial vehicle automated manual transmission. Speaking on the occasion, Suresh KV, Country Head, ZF India, expressed that his company was ready to meet the evolving customer requirements in the changing automotive landscape in India. “The government’s emphasis on safety and environment regulations have been a great accelerator for the introduction of advanced technologies to the Indian market,” he added.

Asia-Pacific bound

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Q & A

Rudi Von Meister,

President, Region of Asia Pacific, ZF Friedrichshafen AG

Interview & photo by: Ashish Bhatia

Q. As a leading global automotive parts maker, has ZF Friedrichshafen AG managed to attain an equally strong foothold in markets beyond Europe? Especially markets like Asia-Pacific?

A. ZF has traditionally relied on our core customers in Europe and in North America for our business. We have grown successfully and profitably into a global player by accompanying those customers overseas. But at this point and time the auto industry continues to explore and find growth in new markets. Local players in those markets have ambition to become global players. For instance the Japanese accomplished it in 60’s-70’s and Koreans in 80’s-90’s. We are now in a position as the world’s third largest automotive parts maker following the acquisition of TRW last year to participate more aggressively and more comprehensively in global markets as a localised player.

Q. How would you gauge the growth potential in the Indian market compared to rest of Asia-pacific?

A. We follow the Chinese market more specifically and we are now in India. In some cases we have been in India for decades in the steering business. Our TRW colleagues have been in India equally long since the 80’s in braking and other systems. What we have now is the opportunity to use our combined knowledge, experience, presence and relationships to expand our ability to serve the Indian automobile industry on the truck side.

Q. Do you see the decision to enter the CV space in India paying-off? You entered the market when the chips were down.

A. To make the decision, you identify demand for your products before you come into a market. We picked the time as the Indian automotive market was experiencing some corrections. We are past that now. We have a base for commercial vehicle product, specifically transmissions and chassis components. We hope to build upon that given the relationships we’ve established, ties we have with key manufacturers and in-turn their clients and their users, and our growing brand reputation. We also have the opportunity now of leveraging the complementary portfolio that TRW brings by reaching out to a broader range of customers. Commercial Vehicle is one key area of focus. We established those operations several years ago as you mentioned, but we are now pushing hard in our new business plant in Pune to create new segments and grow the existing ones.

Q. Is India ready for the ‘See-Think-Act’ themed product line-up?

A. See-Think-Act is process or the formula we are implementing in stages towards achieving competencies in autonomous driving. Autonomous driving we’ve had the see aspect towards the ability to sense proximity and avoid accidents or avoid vehicle contact as a result of that. Think then starts allowing the data from various sensors to be analysed in order to pro-actively engage the vehicle’s electronic brains towards accident avoidance. In the longer term the act allows the computer brain to engage both external and internal data in order to make some corrective actions take place in the event of the driver not being able to do so. Which markets are ready for this, some are closer than others in terms of connectivity and the ability to have an infrastructure in place that supports this type of comprehensive data access. In India that may not quite be the case yet but there is definitely a need given the usage on the roads and the risk of accidents when you incorporate so many different modes of transportation on one narrow strip of tarmac. Some of the most brilliant engineers on earth are in India working on infrastructural improvements and I imagine we will see a lot of progress there.

Q. How do you see the acquisition of TRW Automotive impact the Asia-Pacific market especially India?

A. In the Indian market we have our relationships through the ZF channel some of which have been endured for decades. On the TRW side their history goes back as far as the 60’s. When it comes to the relationship with Rane Group and several decades with the TVS Group. And through their existing joint ventures in India, they played a major role in the evolution and expansion of the Indian automotive industry. In the process now, introducing electric parking brakes which is cutting edge product in our portfolio. So I expect what we are going to see in the future is much greater integration between what the ZF portfolio offers on the transmission, power-line or drive-line side, suspension, chassis components and electronic sensors and TRW’s complementary portfolio of steering, brake systems and active and passive safety systems. So if you think about how these two come together whether you are talking about conventional automotive technologies or next generation e-mobility, it puts us in a very strong position to serve our customers even better because of the ability to integrate of all these different systems on common chassis or platforms.

Q. What do you think will pave the way for ZF and TRW automotive’s integration to succeed in India?

A. One area that we would be focusing on is bringing our Research and Development (R&D) capability in the country. India has been a great find and success for many companies, both industrial and otherwise. So over the course of last couple of decades, we now have come to realise the place within our global R&D contium for a R&D base in India. We are in the process of building our strategy to accomplish that within the next few years.

Q. How has the integration of TRW Automotive added to ZF’s existing capabilities?

A. Its because they have their customers, their reputation, their relationships. We have ours. There is excitement in both camps as to where we as one company will go forward. For example in China, they have test tracks which are highly sought after. We have to go and find them, and lease them when we need them. We have a couple that are in-house. By the same token we at ZF have computer simulation and material science with capabilities of interest to them, and so if we start matching up what each other has in terms of strengths, presence, facilities as well as key-relationships with the customers in the major Asian markets. That quantifies much more than one plus one that equals 3.14. Its big opportunity but in terms of driving investment, we understand that we have to make some important changes in our organisational culture to draw more activity, more productivity, more development, more responsiveness and more local activity in to the key markets of Asia in order to serve them more effectively.

Q. Its over a year since the two culturally different organisations were fused together in May 2015. Are you satisfied with the outcomes and pace of progress so far?

A. The activity has been very persistant and its been very effective but one of our key objectives is not to disrupt or distract from the key task of serving the customer when it comes to delivering that promise. You are not going to see any external changes until the next year or two. What’s happening though internally is we have both sides represented here, we have very significant leadership exchanges and we are collaborating on joint customer projects. We will be integrating our purchasing organisation quickly, we are taking steps in other functional areas as well and in the course of the next couple of years this company is going to look quite different. However it is really impossible also to deliver the promise and to keep our most important resource, our people, focused, enthused and confident of the company going in the right direction. That’s why we are treading cautiously now.

Q. Which are the commercially viable products to have come out from ZF TRW integration?

A. You saw a lot of it at the ‘Global Press Event’ in Aanchen. Our advanced urban vehicle which we showcased last year is an integration of both TRW and ZF technologies. Our future automated driving concepts and capability has to be an outcome of with the marriage of the technology and capability of both sides in order to be successful.

Q. With innovation an underlying theme at ZF, do you see the prototypes turning commercially viable over a short to medium or medium to long term horizon?

A. I love seeing innovation of our truck colleagues because they move very fast, they have to be lauded in the manner in which they sense and respond to opportunities especially in some of our developing markets. If it weren’t commercially viable in the near term we probably wouldn’t do it. We don’t do a long pass and a long kick. We have to be very conscious of how we spend our money. We do advanced research and development but we are always looking at the near to medium term payback.

The auto industry continues to explore and find growth in new markets. Local players in those markets are aspiring to go global.

ZF’s India strategy includes a technology centre

ZF Friedrichshafen AG is setting up its first ever India Technology Centre in Hyderabad. Dedicated to software and mechanical engineering, the new centre is expected to support ZF’s global development teams while making it easier for the company to accelerate the localisation content in product development according to Dr. Stefan Sommer, CEO of ZF Friedrichshafen AG. “This new facility is a significant investment for ZF in India,” averred Sommer. “We are harnessing the skilled talent pool that India has to offer in order to develop superior technology solutions for our global as well as local customers,” he added. In a bid to reinforce the group’s global Research and Development (R&D) footprint, sources at ZF claim the centre could be made fully operational by 01, January 2017.

ZF and Ibeo to develop new lidar technology

ZF has acquired a 40 per cent stake in the Hamburg-based company Ibeo Automotive Systems GmbH, a market leader in lidar technology. Ibeo is also in the development of environmental recognition software with a particular focus on applications for autonomous driving. To provide access to core technology for environmental and object recognition according to Dr.Stefan Sommer, ZF’s chief executive officer, Ibeo’s customers include several major global vehicle manufacturers. Ibeo’s lidar technology is expected to expand ZF’s current sensor portfolio of radar and camera technologies. Ibeo’s fusion of these three sensor technologies provides outstanding results in environmental awareness and forms the basis for autonomous driving. Lidar is an optical method for measuring distance and speed using a light pulse. It is very similar to radar, except that laser pulses are used instead of radio waves. “With lidar technology and sensor fusion, we are able to strengthen the eyes and brain of future generations of vehicles and thus move a step closer to realising the vision of accident-free driving,” Sommer added.

CV’s day out with ZF

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ZF highlighted its technological prowess in CVs by demonstrating next generation transmissions and prototypes.

Story by:

Ashish Bhatia

The weather gods smiled upon all those who made it to the Aldenhoven test track, 19 kms from the German city of Aachen, on a day in June. It was CV’s day out with ZF Friedrichshafen AG. The German supplier arranged for journalists from the world over to travel to Aldenhoven and sample the latest technology it has had to offer in CVs. It lined up an interesting array of CVs, from a Dodge Ram pick-up to a giant Liebherr LTM 1300 mobile crane! On them were ZF’s transmission family. And, as if that was not enough, the good folks at ZF put out an electric bus with AVE 130 electric portal axles. They also showcased intelligent systems on an innovation truck and an innovation tractor. Peter Lake, Member of Board, ZF Friedrichshafen AG, emphasised upon two culturally diverse entities (ZF and TRW) to work towards a common goal. He drew attention to the addition of an all-new active and passive safety technology division to his company’s organisational structure. ZF’s acquisition of TRW assumes importance in the wake of changes expected in the world of mobility by 2025, in the area of safety, efficiency, networking, automation and electrification. Pointing towards the cross flow of technology between CVs and passenger vehicles, Lake averred, “Technology from passenger vehicles is fast making its way into commercial vehicles.”

Transmision tech

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Having turned the Range Rover Evoque into an exciting SUV by fitting it with a compact, high-tech nine-speed automatic transmission, ZF, at Aldenhoven put out an Iveco Stralis XP truck with its Traxon 12-speed automated transmission. Iveco was the first CV manufacturer to express its interest in the Traxon in 2014. Replacing the AS Tronic transmission, Traxon is highly modular. On the Stralis it came with a twin-clutch, and made for easy driving and good control. Capable of networking with other vehicles through PreVision GPS, the transmission is a modern piece of engineering.On the Stralis it worked smoothly and ensured efficient shifting. While the creeping mode ensured that the truck began rolling the moment the brake pedal was released, the transmission, routing 480 hp of power produced by the 11-litre engine, had the 40,000-tonne truck gather speed and display good agility. Ratios swapped smoothly throughout the drive and the lockup clutch ensured there was no slippage. Claimed to help deliver high fuel efficiency, the transmission, during deceleration saw the integrated hydraulic intarder engage. The intarder saves braking effort of the service brakes.

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Traxon Torque transmission on the six-axle Liebherr LTM 1300-6.2 72-tonne mobile crane (with a longer 78 m boom) highlighted its ability to scale-up. It also highlighted application flexibility, and came fitted with a torque converter instead of a single plate or dual-plate clutch like on the Stralis XP. Mated to a 620 hp, 16.2-litre (eight-cylinder) Liebherr engine, the Traxon Torque scales up the 3000 Nm peak torque generated by the engine to 4800 Nm, adding to the crane’s abilities. If the number of buttons on the instrument panel (to select five different steering programs) and the Bluetooth Terminal (a multi-functional control and display unit that allows remote control of crane functions) were a tad intimidating, the transmission inspired confidence. Finding use with MAN, Iveco, Ford Trucks and Foton, Traxon transmission, claimed sources, offers class leading power-to-weight ratio with the software platform combining electronics with predictive shift strategy and PreVision GPS. Available as a standard component in Ford trucks with Euro-6 driveline, the order mark’s ZF’s first volume production move outside of Europe. Claimed to have a transmission ratio spread of up to 99.7 per cent, Traxon is enabling ZF to reach out to new markets. Offering an option of four reverse gear ratios for highway construction vehicles, Traxon is also capable of finding application in hybrid CVs.

Applied on the DAF Innovation truck, Traxon hybrid transmission has made it possible to couple a 120kW (1000 Nm torque) electric motor to the driveline. Suitable for driveline electrification of long distance trucks, the transmission works such that there is a separating clutch in the bell housing and enables hybrid functionalities like recuperation, start-stop and electric-drive (as a stand alone source of propulsion or as a complimentary source that boosts overall performance). In the generator mode, the hybrid module can be integrated into the power supply of units like those that are used in refrigerated transport. Claimed to be a value addition, Traxon hybrid transmission is claimed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions in long-distance trucks to the tune of five per cent. “Due to the considerably higher mileage and fuel consumption of long-distance driving, hybrid technology makes an economic and environmentally friendly solution that pays for itself fairly quickly,” opined Fredrik Staedtler, Head, ZF Commercial Vehicle Technology Division. “Six decibels less noisy than the AS Tronic, the Traxon transmission is capable of a 35 per cent performance improvement over its predecessor,” he added.

Powerline and Ecolife

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The eight-speed automatic Powerline transmission that the German supplier showcased on a big Dodge Ram 3500 pick-up fitted with a 360 hp, 5.9-litre Cummins diesel engine made for an interesting drive. Drawing from passenger vehicle transmission tech of ZF, the Powerline transmission is scalable and future proof. Its development is supported by a thought, that the use of manual transmission will nose dive. Claimed Winfried Grundler, Head, Truck & Van Driveline Technology Business Unit, ZF Commercial Vehicle Technology Division, “The ratio of manual transmissions will nose dive globally from 80 per cent to below 50 per cent.” A light weight construction that weighs 150 kg, the eight-speed unit had the Ram perform admirably. It accelerated well, and the box did a good job of swapping the cogs, both up and down.

Also aimed at gas engines, the Powerline transmission is designed for tasks that involve supplementary power take-offs as well. Its eight gears are claimed to be best suited to address requirements like weight saving, and performance and efficiency enhancement.

ZF demonstrated the abilities of the six-speed Ecolife automatic transmission by putting out two city buses, a VDL Citea and an Irizar. Promising lower fuel consumption, low noise, comfort and performance, the transmission, fitted with start-stop function, aids five to 10 per cent fuel savings according to Andreas Moser, Head, Axle & Transmission Systems for Buses & Coaches, ZF. The start-stop function, said Moser, automatically shuts-off the engine when the bus comes to a standstill, leading to zero fuel-consumption. The start-stop function will be available for engine torques in city buses in the 1,000 to 1,600 Nm torque range. Integrated into the Ecolife transmission is a retarder.

 

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Ecotronic transmission

Based on the nine-speed manual Ecomid transmission, the Ecotronic transmission is aimed at medium-duty trucks. It is claimed to handle torque in the range of 900 and 1500 Nm. A candidate for emerging markets like India, the transmission, a result of systematic design-to-market approach, has an electronic control unit based on the same software platform as the Traxon transmission. An automated manual transmission, Ecotronic comes with drive mode architecture (Eco mode and Power mode). As per the nature of application, the Ecotronic transmission supports optional add-on functions, which enhance its value and reduce the overall lifecycle costs. On a Kamaz 65115, painted in a shade of bright orange, the Ecolife transmission made for any easy drive. If the steering called for an amount of effort to operate, the transmission made for smooth progress, shifting gears at the right time and at the right revs. The transmission complemented the power characteristics of the 260 hp 10.85-litre engine.

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Electric portal axle

Reflecting upon the future, the two rear electric portal ZF axles (AVE 130) of the 18 m Sileo vestibule bus (running in Turkey and Germany) eliminate the need to shift gears. The axles operate via a single planetary gear, and have four 120kW electric motors at either end. Power comes from two 300kWh Lithium-ion phosphate batteries. It takes five hours to charge them using a mobile charger of 64kW. Making up the central drive is an electric motor coupled to a reduction gear. Claimed to offer a range of 300 km on a single charge, the motor revolves at 2500 rpm at the output stage. Designed for serial drive hybrids, the portal axle electric drive is capable of finding use in other electric drive designs. An arrangement can be attained where the IC engine generates electricity rather than propel the bus. The fact that the middle axle pulls the bus instead of the rear axle pushing makes the Sileo stand out.

‘SafeRange’ truck

Attracting the most attention, the ‘SafeRange’ manoeuvreing truck that ZF showcased at Aldenhoven deploys sensors, intelligent electronics and mechatronic systems. Establishing communication with the depot, the truck self manoeuvres to the loading dock with precision. Born as a concept in 2014 according to Winfried Gründler, head of Truck and Van Drive line Technology, Commercial Vehicle Technology Division, ZF, the development enables a long and heavy-duty truck to be easily manoeuvred with the help of a ‘tablet’. Using proprietary hardware and commercially available systems, ZF, with the use of algorithms has the system, through a camera fitted on the windshield accurately, analyse images. The system sends signals to the ZF TRW active electric power steering ReAX and Traxon hybrid auto transmission to steer the truck up to the loading dock. Use of electricity ensures zero emissions. The manoeuvre is controlled by the driver from inside the cabin by using a ‘tablet’.

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Intelligent off-highway solutions

ZF has integrated intelligent system into a tractor. Six cameras mounted on the driver’s cab and the hood act as the vehicle’s sensory organs. A computer analyses the images from the camera and generates a surround-view image of the tractor’s spatial environment. The driver can view this image on a tablet from various perspectives, including a bird’s-eye view. He can also see an overview of the tractor’s movements. In case the radio contact between the ‘tablet’ (the driver is operating) and the machine breaks, the tractor stops. The maxium forward remote manoeuvring speed is four-km per hour; maximum reverse speed is two-km per hour. Laced with a pedestrian detection function, the drivetrain electrification is by ZF TERRA+ generator module. The all-wheel-drive function and the electrical boost function from the single-wheel drive on the trailer interact and complement each other delivering optimum traction management. An electric steering and ZF’s Terramatic transmission add to the equation. The tractor and trailer as a combination can tackle muddy terrain as well as uphill gradients of up to 30 per cent.

 

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Evasive Manoeuvre Assist

Perhaps the most thrilling of all the demonstrations at Aldenhoven was the Evasive Manoeuvre Assist (EMA). It involved a truck travelling at 80 kmph, evading obstructions in its path. While the truck braked to a complete halt in front of an obstacle, the driver did not even bother to operate the wheel or the brake! Reflecting upon autonomous CV tech, the EMA detects, warns and initiates alert mode for active braking and steering. Developed in co-operation with Wabco, the technology enables automatic steering of tractor-trailers around obstructions and aids in prevention of rear-end collision. European Union regulations, claimed ZF sources, require newly registered trucks to be fitted with Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Advanced Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS) and Lane Departure Warning systems (LDW). This prompted the company to incorporate the next level of active safety systems into the Innovation Truck.

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EMA along with Highway Driving Assist (HDA) utilises advanced sensors that can ‘see’, ‘think’ and ‘act’ in the nick of time. Mentioned Mitja Schulz, Senior Vice President & General Manager Commercial Steering Systems, ZF TRW, “Our innovative function ensures that a loaded semi-trailer simultaneously evades, brakes and stabilises automatically. This also avoids rear-end collisions.” Designed to overcome the shortcomings of sudden manual avoidance manoeuvres according to Schulz, the driver can override EMA at any time during the autonomous evasive manoeuvre by simply taking control of the steering wheel, brakes and the throttle. “We can have the HDA ready for volume production in approximately two years. Drivers, pedestrians and cyclists will benefit from these safety improvements. It will by then be absolutely ready to meet all requirements needed for truck platooning,” averred Schulz. Lateral EMA continues to be a challenge, and would mean equipping the truck with a 360-degree field of view. Considering the range of technologies ZF has been introducing as well as developing, it is quite clear, that the future is not just looking bright, it is also looking safe.

Detagtive logistics

‘deTAGtive logistics’ developed by ZF’s explores the connectivity factor crucial to the logistics industry. The platform is engineered to enable transparent fleet management, reduce zero load instances, monitor fuel consumption and allow drivers to have their rest periods as part of route planning. Able to only track the vehicles until now, dispatchers will now be able to track the cargo as well. The platform allows a constantly cargo check, and is claimed to have been bundled with a user friendly software package. Said to report previously ignored details like the temperature range or the effect of vibration on the cargo, the platform is relatively easy to install using Bluetooth Smart Technology. The battery powered sensors, with a surface area smaller than that of a business card, can be easily installed almost anywhere without the need for extensive cabling. They can be used on transport containers, pallets and swap bodies for up to five years before being recycled. The tags can communicate with existing telematics hardware and the Openmatics’ stationary TAG finder as well as smart phones and tablets.

ZF to reinforce India sourcing

ZF is working out a strategy to reinforce its supplier base in India. It has initiated a campaign, ‘Winds of Change’ in the process. Through the campaign, the company is aiming to reach EURO 100 million worth of exports from India by 2017. The current level of exports amount to EURO 35 million. “India has always had an advantage of a good supplier base; has had the technical capability and availability of skilled talent. It has proved to be a premier destination for sourcing,” said Wilhelm Rehm, Member of the Board of Management, ZF Friedrichshafen AG and responsible for Corporate Materials Management. “We want to develop India as a global sourcing hub for ZF,” he added. In order to do so, ZF India has set up a global purchasing office at its India headquarters at Chakan, Pune. The structural change, the company claims would enable local commodity managers to reach a higher frequency and forge deeper ties with the supplier base. “ZF aims to seize any prospects related to castings, forgings and stampings while going forward with value added products and assemblies”, mentioned Horst Wiedmann, Executive Vice President, Head of Strategic Materials Management and Central Services, ZF Group.