February 3, 2008
‘Safely Green’ Governs Eaton Hybrid Development Work
ORLANDO, Fla. … Diversified industrial manufacturer Eaton Corporation used this year’s Technology & Maintenance Council Meeting and Exhibition of the American Trucking Association Technology and Maintenance Council to call attention to the important safety features that have been incorporated into the company’s new hybrid electric power systems.
Eaton also outlined service and maintenance procedures that will help ensure consistent environmentally-friendly performance for all commercial trucking vehicles equipped with Eaton hybrid systems.
“’Safely Green’ has been our maxim from day one in the development of our hybrid systems,” said Shane Groner, technical service manager – North America for Roadranger Marketing. “All of the components were selected and specified to provide safety for not only the driver, but also for any technician who might be working on the vehicle, and even for motorists and others who might be involved in an accident with a hybrid vehicle.
“The bottom line is this – hybrid power is as safe as any other power source. It’s just different, and calls for different training and product support. As a global leader in hybrid power for commercial vehicles, it’s our responsibility to make hybrid power a positive experience for all of our customers. Eaton and Roadranger Marketing are fully prepared to deliver on that responsibility.”
Groner said that all high voltage components are totally isolated from the 12-volt system, and high voltage cables were purposely placed outside of the vehicle’s cab and enclosed to safeguard the operator and passengers. High voltage cables and connectors are bright orange – a color that signals caution to trained technicians, as well as emergency response professionals and others who may respond to an accident.
Batteries and all other high-voltage systems are fully sealed and inaccessible without the proper tools. “This was all done purposely to make these systems as secure as possible in terms of safety,” said Groner.
Vehicles equipped with Eaton’s hybrid power systems also include a Limp Home capability, which adds an additional safety feature to hybrid vehicles by preventing continued operation of the hybrid components during a system malfunction while eliminating the need for towing. In addition, regenerative braking and anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are linked via the SAE J1939 datalink so that that the hybrid system does not have any negative impact on the vehicle during an ABS event.
Groner noted that there are a few operational differences with which operators should become familiar when driving a hybrid vehicle, such as regenerative braking events – in which the operator may not need to apply the brakes as aggressively during deceleration as with a conventional powertrain. “But that level of familiarity typically requires nothing more than one or two short trips, say around the block, and your average driver will be more than comfortable with the vehicle after that,” said Goner.
Eaton includes a complete set of support tools with every hybrid-equipped truck. Computerized training modules have been made widely available with a complete overview on how the systems work and how to operate the vehicles safely. Every vehicle is also delivered with recommended tools to help ensure good maintenance, including safety gloves, digital volt meters, and electrical test equipment. On-line access to instructional guides further supports the Eaton safety initiative.
Eaton has extended its safety initiatives beyond vehicle design and driver training. During the past seven years, Eaton has devoted extensive engineering resources in testing with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and has routinely dispatched engineering teams to OEM sites, OEM dealers and several fleet locations for on-site training. Dealers will be trained and authorized by Eaton to sell and service hybrid systems. Without authorization, the Eaton hybrid system cannot be accessed.
“Working with our OEM partners, we require that every dealer receive training and become an authorized hybrid dealer before they can order or take delivery of a hybrid vehicle,” said Groner. “This system ensures compliance by linking hybrid Vehicle Identification Numbers to authorized dealer codes. Authorized dealers have been trained in the safe operation and service of the hybrid system and are required to have the parts, tools and procedures that are necessary to safely diagnose and repair a hybrid system.”
Groner noted that the Eaton hybrid safety program also includes an unprecedented, nationwide program devoted to training emergency response officials. “We provide training to first responders with on-site training sessions, through printed materials, as well as on-line and through computer based training. Everything is widely distributed through OEMs and customers.”
Eaton is also chairing a committee to issue a paper on “safe service procedures for servicing high voltage systems” with the Technology and Maintenance Council of the American Trucking Associations, added Groner.
“Hybrid vehicles in most applications require less maintenance than regular trucks due to the fact that our drive units are lubricated for life or 500,000 miles,” added Groner. “Grease fittings and filters require no more servicing than a normal truck. And the same is true with monitoring the cooling system, brakes, belts and lights.” Still, a complete lineup of service aids are easily and freely accessed at Roadranger.com, including a comprehensive 67-page service and troubleshooting guide that covers virtually every aspect of properly maintaining a hybrid vehicle.
Eaton announced last year that its medium-duty hybrid power systems were commercially available on the chassis of several North American commercial vehicle manufacturers, including International Truck and Engine Corporation, Peterbilt Motors, Kenworth Truck Company and Freightliner LLC.
Eaton employs a parallel-type diesel-electric hybrid architecture with Eaton’s Fuller® UltraShift® automated transmission. It incorporates an electric motor/generator between the output of an automated clutch and input of the transmission. The system recovers energy normally lost during braking and stores the energy in batteries. When electric torque is blended with engine torque, the stored energy is used to improve fuel economy and vehicle performance for a given speed or used to operate the vehicle with electric power only.
The system can also be designed to provide energy for use during engine-off worksite operations, further reducing noise, emissions and fuel costs.
Eaton’s hybrid systems are supported by a dedicated team of Roadranger service specialists, including hybrid power experts. The Roadranger call center (800-826-HELP) is also staffed with hybrid experts to provide additional support throughout the world.
The Roadranger solution is an unbeatable combination of the best drivetrain, hybrid power, safety, and fleet management product solutions from Dana Corporation and Eaton Corporation. It's all backed by the Roadranger team - the most experienced, expert and accessible drivetrain consultants in the business.
Eaton Corporation is a diversified industrial manufacturer with 2007 sales of $13.0 billion. Eaton is a global leader in electrical systems and components for power quality, distribution and control; fluid power systems and services for industrial, mobile and aircraft equipment; intelligent truck drivetrain systems for safety and fuel economy; and automotive engine air management systems, powertrain solutions and specialty controls for performance, fuel economy and safety. Eaton has 64,000 employees and sells products to customers in more than 140 countries.