Meritor's SureShift(TM) Transmission Simplifies Shifting Through the Latest Shift-By-Wire Technology
18 March 1998Meritor's SureShift(TM) Transmission Simplifies Shifting Through the Latest Shift-By-Wire Technology
New component fulfills drivers' wishes ... LOUISVILLE, Ky., March 17 -- Meritor Automotive, Inc. has announced the availability of its new "shift-by-wire" system -- the SureShift(TM) transmission -- that dramatically increases the ease and comfort of safely shifting a non-synchronized manual transmission. Providing drivers an ergonomic advantage over comparable products, this advanced shift system was introduced today during a Meritor press event at the Mid-America Trucking Show. The SureShift transmission will be available this spring in limited production, and in full production this fall, as optional equipment through all North American truck OEMs when spec'd with any 9- or 10-speed Meritor transmission, it is compatible with any electronically-controlled engine. Meritor will also continue selling its Engine Synchro Shift(TM) (ESS(TM)) system as a lower cost alternative to the SureShift transmission. "The new SureShift system underscores our commitment to be the leading developer of quality drivetrain systems and technology solutions worldwide," said Prakash Mulchandani, president of Meritor's Heavy Vehicle Systems business. "We continue to introduce new innovations to boost efficiencies and make drivers' lives easier. "We designed this new technology after identifying a need to dramatically reduce shifting effort and complexity while keeping the driver in control," Mulchandani added. "We believe the SureShift system will make a major impact in the trucking industry." Automatic Ease, Manual Control This new shift system, developed in collaboration with WABCO*, offers the ease of an automated transmission, but keeps manual control at the driver's fingertips -- a feature that drivers want, according to Rick Martello, general manager of Meritor's Transmission, Clutch and Driveline business. "Our research reveals that truck operators, whether novice or seasoned veterans, prefer having control over what gear the vehicle is in -- especially when driving in difficult or hazardous conditions," Martello said. "The SureShift system allows the driver to retain complete control while virtually eliminating the possibility of mis-shifts." SureShift technology prevents improper shifting by making it virtually impossible for drivers to make a shift that would over-rev or excessively lug the engine, Martello explained. If the operator selects a gear that would over-rev or lug the engine, the system simply responds with a "beep." The beep indicates an improper shift and allows the driver to make a correction. In addition, drivers who are accustomed to "skipping" gears can safely do so by using a unique function button located on the joystick. The new shift system can also impact a fleet's bottom line in several ways, including: -- Value-based pricing. The SureShift system will be priced more economically than more complex automatic transmissions, and will be priced very competitively with other shift-by-wire products; -- Reduced training costs. Truck operators can save money by reducing the costs associated with training novice drivers on how to properly shift a manual transmission -- which has traditionally been one of the more challenging steps in learning how to drive a heavy truck; and -- Ease-of-use. The new system enables the least experienced drivers to shift as well as the veterans. This can significantly reduce costs a fleet must pay for drivetrain damage caused by mis-shifting. As Simple as Back-and-Forth Ease of operation was a primary design requirement. The result: the driver simply pushes a joystick forward for upshifts and pulls back for downshifts. A dash-mounted display indicates the appropriate time to upshift, downshift or "skip" a shift. Clutch actuation is only required for starts and stops, which further reduces the driver's workload. The system relies on a unique X-Y actuator, bolted onto the transmission case in place of a conventional shift lever. The X-Y actuator is linked directly into the transmission control unit, which in turn is connected to the engine control unit, the shift module, the speed sensor on the transmission and the range shift solenoids. The process begins when the driver signals a shift by pushing on the joystick. The system's electronic control unit (ECU) reads this signal and tells the engine controller to synchronize engine RPM for the next shift. The X-Y actuator then takes over to make a quick, accurate shift. "Technicians need specialized training to maintain and repair the typical automatic transmission," Martello said. "By integrating SureShift technology into a manual transmission, Meritor helps fleets avoid the extra costs of this training." According to the company, an electric-over-air system helps increase vehicle uptime since it replaces the pneumatic slave valve, which has traditionally posed problems in heavy-duty manual transmissions from contamination by dirty air. Ergonomic Advantage Maximizes Driver Comfort Another key feature that sets the SureShift system apart from other shift- by-wire products is its unique ergonomic design, according to Martello. "We've made the system's shift module integral to the seat so that it comfortably moves with the driver," he said. This design also allows drivers to fold the shift module down and out of the way when not in use for easy access to the rest of the cab. The SureShift can system also eliminates the conventional "H" shift pattern. Drivers can easily upshift and downshift with a simple flick of the wrist, which can dramatically reduce wrist stress and strain. And, by eliminating the traditional gear shift lever and resulting hole in the floorboard, the system can reduce cab noise. "Just one drive in a vehicle equipped with our SureShift can transmission will make any driver a believer ... a believer in sure, safe shifts every time," Martello said. Meritor's new shifting technology further demonstrates the company's commitment to providing the most advanced shift systems. The SureShift system follows the successful launches of the Shift-n-Cruise(R) and ESS systems. The ESS system eases transmission shifting by automatically synchronizing engine RPM to road speed during transmission shifts and helps drivers shift from one gear to the next without having to "feel" for proper synchronization. ESS technology has gained widespread industry acceptance since its introduction in May 1996. New model nomenclature for the SureShift transmission is being established. For example, model number MO-16F10C-S16 represents a 10-speed, C-ratio, overdrive transmission with 1,650 lb-ft torque capacity equipped with the SureShift system. The systems are manufactured at the company's Laurinburg, N.C., facility with aftermarket parts available from Meritor's Aftermarket Services distribution facilities in Florence, Ky., and Brampton, Ontario and through all OEM parts distribution centers. Meritor, with 1997 sales of $3.3 billion, is a global supplier of a broad range of components and systems for commercial, specialty and light vehicles. Meritor consists of two businesses: Heavy Vehicle Systems, a leading supplier of drivetrain systems and components for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, trailers and off-highway equipment and specialty vehicles including military, bus and coach, and fire and rescue; and Light Vehicle Systems, a major supplier of roof, door, access control and seat adjusting systems, electric motors, suspension systems and wheels for passenger cars, light trucks and sport utility vehicles. * WABCO Automotive Products Group of American Standard Companies Inc. . This company is a joint venture partner of Meritor Heavy Vehicle Systems, Inc. in Meritor WABCO Vehicle Control Systems. SOURCE Meritor Automotive, Inc.