Volvo launched several new initiatives at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., including a specialized I-Shift automated transmission for severe duty applications and a new Adaptive Loading System based around an automatically-controlled 6×2 liftable forward axle.
Wade Long, Volvo’s director of product marketing for North America, said Volvo Remote Diagnostics service will be expanded in April to monitor critical fault codes on the Volvo I-Shift automated manual transmission.
“Vehicle uptime is arguably the highest priority for our customers because trucks benefit their owners only if they are moving,” said Göran Nyberg, president of Volvo Trucks North America. “While technology such as Remote Diagnostics is a key element of our uptime services, we believe that a strong dealer network and knowledgeable, diligent Volvo aftermarket support personnel are critical as well.”
Beginning in April, the service will expand to monitor internal I-Shift transmission components on model year 2016 trucks. Remote Diagnostics will monitor both the standard I-Shift transmission and the I-Shift for severe-duty applications.
In other product news, Volvo introduced Adaptive Loading, a new 6×2 liftable forward axle that automatically adjusts to load weight changes and offers 4×2 operation under certain conditions. Volvo demonstrated Adaptive Loading at the 2015 Mid-America Trucking Show.
Key benefits of Adaptive Loading include greater fuel efficiency, improved traction, lower maintenance costs and increased driver productivity. Adaptive Loading is ideal for bulk haul or general freight operations where the truck goes out loaded and returns empty and for diminishing-load applications.
“As our customers continually strive to reduce operating costs and increase productivity, we must deliver solutions tailored to their specific applications,” Nyberg noted. “For many operations that run empty or lightly loaded much of the time, Adaptive Loading is an innovative way to change the truck’s configuration on the fly for maximum efficiency.”
To further enhance fuel efficiency gains, Long said customers selecting Adaptive Loading can choose one of Volvo’s XE – eXceptional Efficiency – powertrain packages, including XE Adaptive Gearing and XE Economy. XE powertrain packages improve fuel efficiency by lowering engine rpm at a given vehicle speed, a concept Volvo calls “downspeeding.”
“Many customers selecting Adaptive Loading will find XE Adaptive Gearing a great choice as well because it is designed to benefit applications that go out loaded and return empty,” he added. “Customers can magnify their fuel savings by optimizing both suspension and powertrain specs.”
XE Adaptive Gearing, available as an option since the beginning of the year, operates in direct drive when loaded and in overdrive when empty.
Like other 6×2 setups, Adaptive Loading improves fuel efficiency compared with traditional 6×4 configurations, which have two drive axles. The non-drive axle, which is in the forward position of the tandem axles, helps distribute load weight without the internal gearing of a drive axle, lowering weight and reducing internal friction. The reduced weight – more than 300 pounds compared with a 6×4 – enables a greater payload.
The liftable forward axle and Volvo’s Electronically Controlled Suspension (ECS) technology offer additional fuel efficiency benefits. Adaptive Loading and Volvo’s current 6×2 option both use ECS to dynamically transfer weight among the two axles. In Adaptive Loading, ECS – based on pre-programmed weight thresholds – automatically lifts the axle in empty or light-load situations to create a 4×2 configuration, which reduces rolling resistance from tires.
Other benefits cited by Long include lower maintenance costs, improved driver productivity and improved traction in slippery road conditions or on grades.