Issue: Dec 2018


Shifting gear from agricultural domination to trucks, passenger and sportscars



by Nick Palmen

New channels in drivetrain technology are being ploughed by Italian company Oerlikon Graziano, which is using its expertise in the agricultural segment to gear up commercial and passenger vehicle.

 “In the EMEA region 80% of the agricultural vehicles in production are equipped with our Shifting Solutions™. We aim to lead in other sectors where performance, smoothness, efficiency and durability are essential, such as sports cars, trucks, commercial vehicles and off-highway products,” says Andrea Serra, Global Head of Product Design Shifting Solutions.

Oerlikon Graziano recently launched the Compact Slotless Synchronizer (CSS), which is suitable for passenger cars, trucks, agricultural, industrial and construction vehicles. It improves overall transmission performance and efficiency through better shiftability, increased power density and the use of new heavy-duty friction materials.

Another innovation is the TC 102/110/118 synchronizer, the first with a triple cone design for heavy duty truck transmissions. Combining high power density in a compact radial package, it has been developed with a special high stress capacity friction material and long-life activation system that has been validated to a million shifts. The design is suitable for manual, AMT and DCT transmissions.

Automotive Industries (AI) interviewed Wouter Nijenhuis, Global Head of Sales, Marketing and Business Development, Oerlikon Drive Systems and Alessandro Mortali, Head of Sales Gear and Drive Solutions EMEAR.

AI: What does your drive system portfolio include?

Mortali: We have products ranging from loose components such as gears, synchronizers and shafts, to complete components in the form of a hybrid differential for passenger cars. Our gears and loose components are used in all forms of transport.

Nijenhuis: We supply automotive differentials, as well as the power transfer units (PTUs) and even a complete transmission. The Lamborghini Aventador has our transmission. We are now focusing on e-drives as well. And, for off-highway applications, we have planetary drives. There is an entire product family based on the gears we manufacture for drives and also for swing drives to operate construction equipment.

AI: What are the highlights of the year so far?

Mortali: We are busier than we have been in the past 7-8 years. That is, in part, thanks to new contracts with main OEMs in the truck sector. This is breakthrough into a new market for Graziano/Oerlikon Drive Systems. At the September 2018 IAA Commercial Vehicles show in Hannover we launched a new family of truck synchronizers that truck manufacturers showed great interest in.

Nijenhuis: We are a world leader for synchronizers in agriculture, and now we are making our way into the commercial vehicle sector.

AI: What technologies are you targeting?

Nijenhuis: We want to leverage our core business. So, we will continue to sell components such as gears and shifting solutions. We are also very focused on electrification and e-mobility.

AI: How do you cater for both sports car and commercial vehicle OEMs?

Mortali: In some ways there is a commonality, because everybody is looking for efficiency. Trucks are looking for very high efficiency in the transmission with very low splash loss and very good ratio and efficiency in the gearing. Sports car manufacturers want efficiency, but it has to be lightweight and for them it is more about the performance. Nijenhuis: During the design process for a sports car there are a lot of changes to ensure that the car is the best one in its segment. It has to be light, it has to be strong, and it has to be able to deal with the very high speed of the engine, the high power and very small compact build. On top of that, it usually has to be developed rather fast. For that we have to be very flexible.

AI: What does Oerlikon offer for full electric and hybrid vehicles?

Mortali: We have a single and multi-speed e-drives. There is also a hybrid drive which allows OEMs to connect an electric motor to a mechanical driveline. We are working with voltages ranging from 48V up to 800V, which gives us a range of different drive sizes.

AI: What is VOCIS SIENA II transmission software platform?

Nijenhuis: Introduced in 2006, we are now on SIENA II. There are more than 20 modules, each of which controls a particular function, such as gear shifting. There are modules to optimize the efficiency of the driveline and clutch slip. There is usually a 50 RPM slip. With our software module and special sensors, we can get to one or two RPM, which means you are getting much better transmission efficiency.

There is also the interface to the vehicle controls or engine controls where our software supports a number of functions. When you combine all the modules you can control the entire transmission system. We can provide this automation in various stages. We can use it for prototyping or we can also use it for production. It is a turnkey solution.

AI: Where do you see the biggest growth opportunity for Oerlikon?

Nijenhuis: With the passenger cars it is definitely the move to e-drives. In the commercial vehicle sector we are gaining a larger share of the synchronizers market, and we think we will continue to grow. The same is true of gears.

AI: What’s next for Oerlikon?

Mortali: We have merged with DANA, and we are very excited about the opportunities. DANA already has a good portfolio of products mainly for trucks. We believe that we could add our  experience and also the gear shaft component manufacturing capacity to the product range.

Nijenhuis: From the business perspective it is very complementary merger because we offer a lot that DANA doesn’t offer and vice versa. And together we serve the same markets and core products – which is I think a big plus.

Mortali: We recently invested more than 30 million Euros in advanced manufacturing systems. The investment includes machines for the hard turning, grinding and hobbing of gears and the specialized machining of synchronizer parts.

In addition to our synchronizer production we are the world’s largest independent gear manufacturer, supplying 4,000 different types

Com to customers worldwide. We also produce bevel sets, shafts and drive assemblies such as axles, differential sets and planetary drives. We even supply complete transmissions and advanced control systems for electric or hybrid vehicles, permitting the best sizing of the electric motor and usage of batteries.

This is very significant because our sector is characterized mainly by small companies. With us you can find the financial stability, knowhow, and investment. We believe it’s an attractive selling proposition that we are now presenting to the customer.

Nijenhuis: Our gears are very sophisticated, and of very high quality and very high precision. This is the reason why we are able to leverage the kind of knowhow with the e-drives. If you take out the engine, other noises in the car become very important. In addition, the speed of the electric motor is much higher than that of a combustion engine. The quality and the precision of the gears you need is therefore very high – and we provide that.  



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