Airless tyres for commercial vehicles

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An airless tyre developed by Michelin could push pneumatic tyres down the road to extinction. Not as early as many would think, the journey of pneumatic tyres will also depend on how successful products like the ‘tweel’ are. An airless tyre developed by Michelin, ‘tweel’, according to Pete Selleck, president of Michelin North America, is an airless tyre and wheel combination. Michelin recently commissioned a plant to produce airless tyres in South Carolina, USA. First plant in the history of tyre making, that is dedicated to the production of airless radial tyres according to Selleck, the ‘tweel’ will be marketed as a replacement for conventional tyres on lawn movers and off-road industrial vehicles. Aimed at commercial vehicles thus, and those that are more prone to punctures than automobile tyres, ‘tweel’ was born out of the an idea first conceived by Michelin research engineers in the USA.

Changing the configuration of a conventional tyre, bringing together the tyre and the wheel assembly into one solid unit, the ‘tweel’ comprises of a rigid hub connected to a shear beam by means of flexible, deformable polyurethane spokes, all functioning as a single unit. It has no air, thereby solving what had seemed to be the unavoidable challenge of chronic flat tyres that plagues the landscape, construction, contracting, refuse and recycling and agricultural industries. Highlighting Michelin’s long-standing commitment to breakthrough innovation according to Selleck, the ‘tweel’ was born at Michelin Americas Research Company in Greenville, South Carolina, which is one of Michelin’s three global technology centers, as a concept. The same site was also chosen for its manufacture in order to satisfy a growing commercial market. The new plant at the site gives Michelin the ability to boost output of its award-winning Michelin X Tweel SSL skid-steer tyres and begin production of the new Michelin X Tweel Turf as original equipment for John Deere to equip its Ztrak 900 Series line-up of zero-turn commercial mowers.

Originally introduced as a concept at the 2005 North American International Auto Show, the X Tweel makes Michelin’s highly advanced airless radial tyre and is claimed to be the only commercial product available to offer the advantages of no maintenance, no compromise and no downtime. With the capability to perform with traditional radial tyre technology, which requires no air, thereby eliminating the risk of a ‘flat’, the ‘tweel’, said Ralph Dimenna, head of Michelin Tweel Technologies, “Enables Michelin to enter new markets and expand its reach in existing business segments within the low-speed application category. The industry is hungry for solutions contributing to productivity, safety and bottom lines. Serving our customers is at the center of our strategy for success.”

The new C and K from Renault

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Renault Trucks has introduced an entirely new selection of vehicles: the C and K range to the Middle East.

Renault has launched a new range of trucks called the C and K. They offer new standards in robustness and productivity. Each model can be adapted to suit the wide range of applications and customer demands within the distribution and construction segments.

The C range is ideal for both long-haul and certain construction applications. Available in two cab widths: 2.3 and 2.5 m, the former is best suited for distribution and deliveries, while the latter works well for long haul, light construction and heavy distribution. An optional steel bumper, improve resilience and approach angle, allowing the C range to be used for earth-moving applications as well.

The K range, in fact, offers the best approach angle in the market at (32°), making it ideal for heavy construction and distribution. The front bumper is 100 per cent steel with headlamp protection. The K range has been tested under gruelling conditions like log transport in Cameroon, carrying 100 to 120 tonnes of aggregate in Oman, and in mines in Turkey.

D-Range and Kerax All-Wheel-Drive (AWD). Renault has also refreshed its D Range. It is aiming the iconic Kerax model for extremely demanding applications. The new D range thus consists of a single range and two vehicles. The D cab 2.1m (from 13 to 18 tonnes) used mainly for distribution, delivery and waste management, could be had with a factory fitted crew cab (4 doors and 6 seats), and is available in AWD. The AWD makes it ideal for fire fighting applications. The D WIDE (from 18 to 26 tonnes) is ideal for medium distribution and delivery applications. The company plans to introduce the K-Range with AWD as standard. Field tests are being undertaken for the said purpose.


The new C and K range have been subjected to stringent quality controls: test track trials, test benches and fording tests. Tests have been carried out under temperatures ranging from -40°C to +60°C. Both the C range and K range use the proven Renault Trucks chassis, available with a range of reinforcements.
The K range, offers better ground clearance and approach angle, which allows it to clear significant obstacles and deliver outstanding pulling power. High precision steering and tight turning radius, makes the range easy to manoeuvre. The Optidriver gearbox is available on both C and K ranges for demanding applications and on the AWD K models.

On its exterior, the K range features an all-steel, three-part bumper, fitted to a 32 tonne capacity front towing bar, protective grids for the headlight, optics in polycarbonate, as well as steel protection for all exposed parts.

Vehicles in the C range are fitted with steel corners and protective grids for the headlights. Capable of taking the heaviest punishment and with a higher approach angle, the C 2.5 m off-road cab can be fitted with all-steel bumpers from the K range.
Renault Trucks has developed a new diagnosis tool for preventive maintenance. The company has also developed a new concept called XTrem Camp for customer on-site maintenance. Diesel anti-theft devices, mechanical anti-intruder device door lock, or light bar with rotating beacons offer better safety. The design of the cab and each part of the powertrain helps save fuel. For example, the cab has a windscreen set at an angle of 12° and a trapezoid form, narrower at the front than at the rear, which improves its air penetration coefficient (cx) by up to 12 per cent. Optifuel Solutions, driver training, fuel consumption monitoring, will help deliver optimal fuel efficiency.

The Renault Trucks C range offers an outstanding payload, which can be as much as 31 tonnes for an 8×4. The K range offers a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of up to 50-tonnes and a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCW) of up to 120-tonnes with both manual and automated gearboxes. The vehicles also have several pre-equipment options which simplifies body mounting operations, reducing vehicle delivery time by up to 20 per cent. The vehicles can be fitted with Optifleet, the Renault Trucks fleet management solution.

Strong on productivity

Both the C and K range come with options for reducing vehicle weight, optimised gearboxes and drive axles. By reducing kerb weight and increasing GCW, larger volumes can be transported with each trip, increasing a vehicle’s profitability. The cabs in the C and K range are spacious, with an engine tunnel reduced to 200 mm. The wraparound dashboard centralises all controls. A 7 inch high definition navigation screen displays vehicle status information. The ergonomic steering wheel, other than a 200 mm range of seat adjustment, allows for a flexible driving position.

An additional step on the side of the vehicle allows drivers to check their load easily. Both ranges have a storage which can be accessed from both inside and outside the cab. The Renault Trucks C 2.5 m cab and the K range are fitted with extendable bunks. As an option, the vehicles are also available with an upper bunk.

The C range and K range are available with extensive options and an array of configurations for a variety of applications such as fuel and water transport, transporting building materials, refuse collection, concrete transport and machinery transport and earth moving.


CV is an associate member of the International Truck of the Year (IToY). Being a part of this association gets the magazine exclusive articles, specially written by IToY jury members.   

ZF highlights tractor tech

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Story by : Rajesh Rajgor

ZF makes some of the most hi-tech tractor transmission at its plant in Germany.

It is cloudy and grey, typical of a monsoon morning. Behind the wheel of a big Landini 7 – 215 Dual Power tractor, the farm ahead looks big. Bigger than the farms in India often are. But then, this is Germany. Somewhere near Passau to be precise. This farm is typical of the size of farms found in Germany. Farms that call for the use of high horse power tractors. The Landini 7 – 215 Dual Power for example. It is not surprising to learn that the transmission powering the smallest, or the least powerful tractor in Germany could actually work well on the most powerful tractor in India – in the range of 50 to 60hp. The Landini tractor is equipped with a synchronised transmission (ZF T 7200). There are 6 synchronised gears that shift automatically. Also a part of the transmission is the IRS (Intelligent Ring Shifter) and 4 power shift gears. The synchronised gears shift automatically, without the need to operate the clutch.   

The ECCOM 5.0 from ZF is found on the most powerful tractors in Germany like the Claas Xerion 4000 and the ATM Terrion 7000. ECCOM 5.0 is produced at ZF’s plant at Passau and suitable for use on vehicles that produce torque of upto 650hp. This transmission is claimed to be the most reliable and efficient by ZF sources. It is also well acknowledged for the operating comfort it offers. A continuously variable transmission (CVT) the ECCOM 5.0 does away with the need to operate the clutch or change gears. The driver can thus concentrate on other tasks at hand rather than worry if the right set of gears are engaged. With tractors as powerful as 420hp found in Germany, it is not surprising to see ZF offering the Series 9 transmission. At the other end, is the CVT Transaxle TMT 09. It is the smallest continuously variable ZF transaxle, and has a power range of between 65 to 90hp. The travel speed achieved is up to 50kmph. The TMT 09 is an inline transmission design that facilitates low centre of gravity. TMT 09 is found on tractors like Lindner Lintrac. This is one transmission that could eventually find its way to India. High hp tractors by Same Deutz Fahr are fitted with the TMT 32 and TMT 45 transmission. 

When the TMT 09 transaxle makes it to India, chances are that it will be made at ZF’s facility at Coimbatore. Eberhard Wilks, Head of Product Line Agricultural Machinery Systems, ZF, did not reveal any timeline for such a development. Instead he chose to say that if ZF does manufacture the likes of the TMT 09 transaxle in India, it will be localised, and for local consumption. The other transmission ZF could look at manufacturing in India is the TPT 9 and TPT 11 transaxles. These two transmission could cater to the export markets for the Indian OEMs. ZF could also look at manufacturing axles in the 25hp and 125hp range
in India. 

Technology in different brands

If the opportunity presented a means to check out tractors from John Deere, Fendt, Deutz and Lindner with modern implements like cultivators, ploughs, disc harrows and front packers, the scenario also presented a clear image about the nature and application of tractors in regions that lack abundant manual labour. Gernot Hein, Head of Communications and Marketing at ZF, said that his company was keen to highlight the gamut of technology offered in the form of transmissions for tractors, reflecting 75 years of manufacturing heritage.

Deutz Fahr

This 140hp tractor is equipped with ZF T7140 (transaxle) transmission with a power shift mechanism. Offering 32 gear ratios in total, this transmission is the smallest unit in the T 7000 transmission family. The TPT 11 transmission from the T 7000 family is even smaller and lighter. Of the power shift variety, this transmission is found on a Steyr 4115 tractor; is new and offers 32 gear ratios. Steyr 4115 attains a maximum speed of 40kmph, the APS function on the TPT 11 two program modes, helping to lock different power shift levels. If tough task were to be performed, TPT 11 enables the user to strike out 3rd and 4th powershift level.This keeps the engine from stalling. There is also a combo shift, which does away with the need to operate the clutch when shifting; an automatic reverse gear system, eases on the discomfort and allows for a smooth operation.


Claas 830 Axion

This 213 hp tractor contains ZF’s TMT 25 transmission with drive train controllers. ZF engineers worked with Claas to ensure user friendly controls. When operating under high-load conditions, it is possible to reduce the engine speed from a range of 1800-2000 rpm at 40kmph to 1270 rpm at 42 kmph. This ensures more fuel saving. The ability to clock good speeds yet have the engine turning at lower rpm also ensures superior fuel efficiency under partial load conditions, apart from reducing noise. The maximum torque this tractor puts out is 970 Nm.

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This 230hp tractor is equipped with ZF power shift transmission. Doubling up as a wheel loader, the transmission facilitates auto and manual shifts. There are 6 gear ratios on offer. 

McCormick VTX7/6 Series

This tractor is equipped with TMT 18 CVT transmission from ZF. The rear axle is also from ZF. The engine produces a maximum power of 185hp at 1900 rpm. Even at 50 kmph the steering requires little effort. The power shuttle function makes it easy to reverse the tractor. The CVT transmission on this tractor ensures car like comfort in the form of cruise control. For example a driver can choose to operate between 0 to 30 kmph using speed adjustment button.

75 years of precision manufacture

The first tractor transmission rolled out of the ZF’s Passau plant in 1946. The plant delivered the 1,00,000 tractor transmission in 1954. The year 1972 saw the introduction of T-3000 synchromesh transmission. The power shift transmission T-700 rolled out of Passau in 1989, followed by the manufacture of CVT transmission in 2000. ECCOM 5.0 CVT transmission for high hp tractors began manufacture in 2009. In 2011, production of the TERRAMATIC Series with TERRA+ generator module commenced. Further In 2014, TERRAPOWER and TERRAMATIC transmissions got a standard rear axle. Exports account for as much as 28 percent of the sales revenue at Passau. Each year 18,000 transmissions and 8,000 rear axles leave the assembly shop. They are supplied to thirty customers in fifteen countries. In the Central Division Assembly, all single components are assembled to make complete axles and transmissions on more than 20 assembly lines. The assembly area is divided into different sectors like agricultural machinery systems, bus and commercial vehicle systems. The transmissions and axles differ; in versions, size and number of components. Every day this versatile task requires precision, smooth operations and different logistical arrangements. The division is also responsible for the worldwide business of marine propulsion systems, aviation technology as well as the development and production of gearboxes for wind turbines. Test systems for all kinds are found here. Of applications in driveline and chassis technology and the open telematics platform. Openmatics are also included in the division’s portfolio. In order to continue to be successful with innovative products, ZF annually invests about 5 percent of its sales (2013: EUR 836 million) in research and development. In 2013, the Group achieved a sales figure of about EUR 16.8 billion with approximately 72,600 employees.