A powerful transmission
Transmission solutions play an important role in the overall performance of an equipment. Availability of the latest technologies in transmission solutions have helped OEMs to improve the efficiency level of their equipment.

Large-scale hybridisation and automatic features have been and are being introduced in power transmission systems and assemblies for construction equipment, trucks and dumpers being manufactured in the country. Interestingly, electronic sensing for ensuring multi-mode power transmission, Telematics tracking and inbuilt diagnostics features are fast becoming standard equipment for OE supplies. Coupled with the drive to light weight and support fuel efficiency by using alternate materials have now propelled this industry to a new level of performance offerings.

The transmission system plays a vital role in an equipment as the gearbox determines the performance and robustness of an equipment. The key components in a drive line of the construction equipment (CE) transmission system are front and rear axles with planetary gears, differential brakes, transmission shaft, clutch, and torque converters.

With many infrastructure projects in the pipeline, there is a demand for efficient equipment and machinery. Especially big contractors are looking at machinery equipped with latest technology and solutions which can help in execute the project efficiently and complete the project on time. Automatic transmission plays a major role in the machine/vehicle operating system. Major transmission solution providers are keen on Indian market seeing the emerging opportunities for their products and solutions. For e.g., Bonfiglioli is extremely focused on Indian markets.

Bonfiglioli has always been investing in innovation and new technologies for power transmission solutions.

Speaking on the current size of transmission systems in India, Bonfiglioli’s Country Manager, Kennady V Kaippally, said, Given the uncertainties related to the second wave of lockdown, it becomes difficult to size the market in the current circumstances.

A couple of months back, before the onset of second wave, we expected the construction industry in this year to reach near the previous highs of nearly a hundred thousand equipment. All these equipment, use different transmissions technologies to cater to their particular requirements. Bonfiglioli is the largest producer of hydrostatic transmissions serving various equipment classes. We estimate the market for the hydrostatic transmissions in India for construction equipment to be in the tune of around Rs 10 billion.”

Suresh KV, President for ZF in India, says, “ZF’s transmissions play a very important role in well-functioning of off-highway equipment at different working conditions by providing Automatic transmission for smooth shifting of gears, this gives the high level of comfort to the vehicle operators.”

With the focus is now more on efficiency and productivity of equipment, advancements in transmission systems play a major role in achieving these requirements. Adds Suresh KV, “Cost reduction as a result of reduced fuel consumption while simultaneously increasing productivity are the mega trends in the construction machinery business. Also, today there is a lot of emphasis on safety and sustainability. Some of the current trends also include diesel electric hybrid transmissions, continuously variable transmission and electronically controlled power shift transmissions.”

With years of experience in manufacturing, AVTEC delivers competency across the entire value chain of design and manufacture of engines; transmissions and high precision components for various industries. The company serves some of the best-known domestic and global Automotive and off-highway companies, including global OEMs such as Allison, BEML, Caterpillar, Daimler, and several other established brands.

Said a spokesperson from AVTEC, “AVTEC’s world class facility at Hosur, Tamil Nadu manufactures Cycling and Hauling Automatic and Powershift Transmissions for Off-Highway applications. The plant follows cellular manufacturing concept, which is well suited to take care of the entire product mix and support faster response.”

AVTEC’s AOS 9800 transmission is a fully automatic/powershift transmission available with 8 forward speeds and isoperated with electronic controls. Available with optional engine driven PTO, there is a flexibility of mounting either direct or remote and using in-line arrangement and hydrodynamic retarder. This transmission is designed and developed to perform in demanding oil field applications like pumping and fracturing. This transmission relentlessly performs and ensures maximum uptime for all oil field equipment.

The AH8700 transmission is a fully automatic/powershift transmission available with 7 forward and 1 reverse speeds and is operated with electronic controls. Available with engine driven PTO, there is a flexibility of mounting either direct or remote and using in-line arrangement and hydrodynamic retarder.

Volvo CE in its range construction and mining equipment, use own transmission solutions. Dimitrov Krishnan, Vice President, Volvo CE, elaborating on the importance of transmission systems, says, “Depending on what the equipment is doing, it needs to sense the demand of the power and give that demand back through the transmission system to the engine so that the engine power is reduced or increased based on the demand. If the demand is low and one is supplying more power then there is a lot of wastage of power. This is where the transmission systems including the transmission control systems are critical in efficiency and productivity of a machine.” He cites the example of Volvo excavators saying, “In our D series of excavator, we have come out with a transmission system which has resulted in reduction of fuel consumption by 10 per cent.”

Challenges & opportunities
Says Kaipally, “India—with its growing infrastructure need and low equipment density—offers immense opportunities for growth of construction equipment and the related industry. However, this growth is not going to be secular. Desire for higher productivity is going to drive the demand for more specialised equipment, requiring innovative transmission systems that have to meet specific local requirements. Challenge in such an environment remains in developing or adapting products and manufacturing capabilities that suit the specific demands of Indian market. Bonfiglioli with its local design centre and manufacturing facilities—being present for nearly two decades in India and having gained a deeper understanding of the market—is well placed to take advantage of these opportunities.”

The demand for mining and construction equipment - to a large extent - reflects macro-economic indicators; consequently, the high interest rate regime, slowdown in infrastructure investments, liquidity crunch and numerous regulatory roadblocks have led to a sharp decline in demand for mining and CE during the past few years.

With the OEMs getting more focused on fuel efficiency and productivity solutions, transmission solution providers see a bright future in the years to come. Revival on the industry growth trends and infrastructure and mining segments are showing positive signs of recovery, construction and mining equipment segment is expected to come out of its stagnation which will directly and indirectly help new transmission products find more demand.

Looking ahead, there is a lot of technological advancements expected. There are going to be a lot of innovations in the field of transmission systems for making the construction equipment more productive and efficient. This will enable the growing demand from the increasing infrastructure development and construction activities in India. Though incorporating the latest and cutting-edge technologies in the transmission system may take time, we can expect a lot of innovative concepts in the field of transmission systems.