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Kauff’s Transportation Systems

Towing operation sticking with Procision™

“Others take their products to market and say 'Here, this is what you want. This is what you need and why'. Eaton, instead, took a back-end approach and said you tell us what you want and we are going to spend a lot of time and resources to develop that product based on your parameters.“

Geoff Russell,
President, Kauff's Transportation Systems

Background

In the towing, recovery and specialized transport business since 1969, Kauff's Transportation Systems has flourished over the years and today has five locations in southern Florida. Under the leadership of President Geoff Russell, the company not only serves its wide range of customers well but also the towing industry in which it participates so successfully.

Kauff's is one of the founding members of the Professional Wreckers Association of Florida and the Towing and Recovery Association of America.

Based in West Palm Beach, the company's more than 50 light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles are meticulously maintained, with their polished bright red exteriors almost as recognizable here as the sand and palm trees that dominate the local landscape.

"That's our brand," boasts Russell.

Challenge

Russell is especially fond of one vehicle. It's a Freightliner FL120 with a 21-foot carrier flatbed on the back that is a part of his general towing fleet and runs about 350 to 400 miles a day out of Kauff's' Fort Pierce location. Russell took delivery of the vehicle in 2013 to test and evaluate a new transmission that Eaton was developing at the time.

Eaton named the transmission Procision and it was being developed with a relatively new concept in the commercial truck industry – dual clutch technology – that Eaton and Russell hoped would be ideally suited to meet the day-to-day challenges of a tow truck operating in southern Florida.

Russell says the truck operates in "sand, swamp or water and spends an abnormal amount of time, in our business anyway, working in off-road surfaces." Always getting the traction you need, therefore, is a major concern.

"Once you leave a paved surface you often get into a situation where your throttle application makes your wheels spin and you're stuck," adds Russell. That's certainly not the most ideal situation for a tow truck that is supposed to be assisting stuck vehicles. That scenario also isn't going to help Russell with what he identifies as his number one challenge.

"Our biggest issue today is driver retention," he says.

Solution

With the dual clutch technology and a whole lot more that went into the design of the new Procision transmissions, at least one of his drivers is sticking around after being assigned as the operator of the Freightliner truck. Meanwhile that same vehicle and new transmission are also helping unclog that sticky situation with the sand, swamp and water.

That's because Procision transmissions feature electronic shifting that uses grade, vehicle weight and throttle inputs to provide optimal fuel efficiency and smooth, continuous delivery of torque to a vehicle's wheels under all shift conditions. The transmissions also allow for more efficient acceleration from a stopped position while optimizing shift points to efficiently get to the highest gear. Gear changes are made by swapping the engine torque between clutches with the next gear pre-selected.

The dual clutch module is fully contained within the transmission, hydraulically controlled, and oil cooled for extended life. Smart features, such as Eaton Dynamic Shifting, allow the transmission to automatically switch between economy and performance shift schedules based on mass, grade and driver demand. The shift results are modified dynamically based on available torque, engine acceleration and grade.

Economy and performance shift tables can be adjusted to tune an overall calibration to meet any customer's specific needs, including Russell's. That calibration flexibility is the most ever offered on an Eaton transmission.

Result

"The vehicle with Procision has had the same driver from day one," says Russell. "He loves the truck after initially being reluctant to move from a torque converted automatic transmission. He can manage the wheel spin much better, and it has never been stuck in the sand or anything else."

A 43-year towing industry veteran, Russell was especially impressed with the manner in which Eaton went about launching its newest transmission. He was a member of the original customer council that was assembled by Eaton while Procision was still on the drawing board.

"They brought in fleet managers and owners from various businesses and disciplines throughout North America and said here is what we are looking to do," says Russell. "They asked us what is most important to you. Is it acceleration speed? Merging into traffic? Backing up? Holding hills?

"They took our input and really in my mind developed a seamless product."

Not all trucking industry manufacturers, he adds, are as willing as Eaton to ask questions first instead of after the fact.

"Others take their products to market and say 'Here, this is what you want. This is what you need and why'," says Russell. "Eaton, instead, took a back end approach and said you tell us what you want and we are going to spend a lot of time and resources to develop that product based on your parameters."

That investment is paying off, adds Russell. Now in service for close to 100,000 miles, he has yet to experience any downtime and he hasn't touched the transmission in terms of service. The initial lube and filter change interval is 150,000 miles.

On top of that, Russell says he getting five to six percent better fuel consumption than he was getting with his other trucks with torque converter transmissions.

"I may be biased because I have been involved with Procision since the outset," notes Russell. "But I have to say Eaton has done a really good job with this one and we will absolutely consider buying Procision transmissions in the future."

Looks like Procision has found a new home in southern Florida and Kauff's Transportation Systems.