With the Technology Day event, ZF bets on electromobility. And not only

In Friedrichshafen, ZF’s Technology Day took place between June 27th and 29th. Here, the company exposed the latest achievements in terms of technological innovations. The company’s motto “see. think. act.” here turns into multiple practical expressions. At the same time, ZF shows how it pursues its “Vision Zero” goal. This is ZF’s interpretation of the desire (and need) to offer solutions that point to zero in terms of emissions (local), number of accidents and, last but not least, downtime reduction. All the activities that have filled the schedule orbit around these two slogans.

The four pillars of ZF’s strategy at Technology Day

The vision of ZF for the future of transport spreads along four main directions. Vehicle motion control, integrated safety, autonomous driving, electrification. The solutions that the company has displayed at the event combine the four pillars in different ways. The drive towards digitalization and the IoT background keep everything together and make the development of such solutions fundamentally possible.

Innovation starts from the micro scale

The Technology Day tour began with the high number of innovative components that Zf presents on this occasion. Among the most important, there are CeTrax Lite and Mid “Plug-and-Drive” electrical transmissions, respectively for vehicles up to 7.5 and 19 tons. A novelty that marks the landing of Zf in the world of real engines, albeit electric. If the Ave130 electrified axle (quickly became one of the main standards in the field of electric buses), while integrating two engines to the hubs, remained, in any case, an axle, with CeTrax the company of Friedrichshafen will provide, for the first time, a central electric motor. The peculiarity of CeTrax consists in having an electric motor, integrated power electronics, and gearbox, besides being able to fit for already existing platforms.

Zf, the central electric motor reduces the costs

«By using our  CeTrax models’ plug and drive concept, vehicle manufacturers can reduce development and installation expenditures. With this new concept, Zf is addressing the needs of manufacturers or fleet operators who are planning to switch from existing conventional models to an electric driving mode», explains Mark Mohr, Director of Development for Industrial Vehicle Technology at Zf. In terms of power supply, the two versions respectively deliver 150 and 300 kW at 380 and 760 Nm (maximum torque 4,400 Nm).

The hybrid shades of the TraXon gearbox

To facilitate the transition to its ‘Vision Zero’, in addition to the CeTrax transmission, Zf also offers, as we said, the Ave130 electrified axle. Same dimensions as the more traditional solutions, as shown by the 18-meter articulated bus in the external test area. This mounts two of them, along with four engines and the control electronics. For tourist buses, as well as for trucks, the hybrid variant of the TraXon industrial vehicle transmission is available. An electric motor takes place between the combustion engine and the transmission. This means having the advantages of hybrid transmissions, even for heavy vehicles. From 2019, it will also be configured for predictive maintenance in connection with the Zf cloud.

Zf electric steering

Among other previews, also appears the new fully electric steering ReAx EPS, with electric power steering and without hydraulic components. This is a fundamental element of the transition to autonomous driving even on commercial and industrial vehicles. The basis is the proven electromechanical steering ZF has developed for cars, with a 70 Nm electric motor and intelligent system based on ZF’s Pro AI artificial intelligence system. The company did not forget the comfort in the cab. This, in fact, takes advantage of the cCAB active suspension system, which reduces pitch and roll, and the implementation of the eCALM system, to reduce air and energy consumption of the air suspension system.

Logistics and digitization

The digitization of logistics is now a forced stop. The solutions that ZF offers range from the use of a wide variety of sensors, cameras, hardware TAGs, intelligent processors that keep fleets, storage, and destination points constantly connected. Moreover, data is always available thanks to the computing power of cloud computing. This is the case of the work carried out by the Model Factory division of ZF, or of the “4.0” solutions of Openmatics.

Autonomy and intelligence applied

Among the applications that ZF exposed, the ZF Innovation Forklift attracted a lot of attention. This, in fact, is an automated, fully interconnected forklift truck with electrified traction. It is the first real application (for the material handling sector), of the “see. think. act.” motto. Moreover, next to the forklift, there are three interesting highly futuristic applications for the transport of people. e.GO People Mover and Rinspeed Snap, two prototypes halfway between a van and a mobile living room, and a futuristic van without a steering wheel. This can be controlled by a joystick as well as it can be autonomous. The dashboard is occupied by three interactive screens.

Innovation Van. Smart last mile delivery

In the outdoor area, demonstrations and test drives of vehicles equipped with ZF’s innovative technological solutions took place. Starting from the Innovation Van for last-mile logistics, the ZF Innovation Truck and the Terminal Yard Tractor. The latter two prove to be able to perform container loading and unloading maneuvers in (almost) complete autonomy, proving that the motto “see. think. act. “also makes sense in terms of savings and sustainability. This closes the circle with what is the community objective of the “Vision Zero” group.


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