Technology

Proven Partnership - A Perfect Match

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Tags: VehicleMotionControl, Safety, Efficiency
Even before the akquisition of WABCO by ZF, the two companies had jointly developed successful commercial vehicle products.
Andreas Neemann, July 08, 2020
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Andreas Neemann wrote his first ZF text in 2001 about 6HP transmissions. Since then, the automotive writer has filled many publications for internal and external readers, showcasing his passion for the Group's more complex subjects.
For decades, the joint collaboration has resulted in breakthroughs including development and production of the CDC (Continuous Damping Control) adaptive damping system for commercial vehicles and the CALM (Cabin Air Leveling Module) air-sprung driver’s cabin damping system, which went into volume production in 1997 and 2002, respectively.

Optimal solutions for the driver, cargo, and road surface

Optimal solutions for the driver, cargo, and road surface

Both products rapidly found success on the market due to their great advantages: CDC not only protects the freight and the roadway, but also mitigates dangerous situations, such as when the truck has to quickly swerve on the highway. In addition, the system increases passenger comfort – which in times of driver shortages is not a luxury, but an enhancement of the “commercial vehicle workplace.”
The jointly developed air spring damper module for the driver’s cabin also leads to greater comfort and safety: CALM is highly effective in preventing the vehicle’s tendency to undulate – in response to unevenness in the road – from being transmitted to the cabin. In addition, CALM automatically regulates the optimum cabin level.
The CDC adaptive damping system not only protects the freight and the roadway, but also mitigates dangerous situations.

Successful engineering and commercial teamwork

Successful engineering and commercial teamwork

From a technical standpoint, both product lines rely on ZF shock absorbers with WABCO providing the rolling tube with valve unit for CALM and the Electronic Shock Absorber Control (ESAC) ECU for CDC. In both cases, ZF was responsible for the OEM business, while WABCO sold CALM in the aftermarket and the CDC control unit independently in volume production.
All in all, the collaboration between the two companies has always been successful as renowned commercial vehicle manufacturers have been providing the CDC/CALM air suspension systems for years in their vehicles. Driver’s cabin damping has also proven to be attractive for the agricultural and construction machinery industry, a market that ZF has also been tapping into since 2012. “This is an example of the synergy effects between commercial vehicle and industrial technology that still exist today and that are playing into our hands,” explains Andreas Moser, Head of the Commercial Vehicle Technology Division at ZF.
The cabine damping system CALM is highly effective in preventing the vehicle’s tendency to undulate.

Additional potential

Additional potential

Experts expect demand to continue to grow in the years to come. “Both products will have important roles in enabling the transportation of passengers and goods in the future,” says Michael Große Erdmann, Market Manager at ZF. “For instance, many of the e-buses used in cities have their batteries on the roof. Without CDC, the high center of gravity would cause the vehicle to roll, resulting in discomfort for the driver and passengers”, adds Stefan Filter Division W’s Strategic Marketing Leader for Suspension and Powertrain.
Another future need could be for CDC and CALM to support “platooning”, a driving configuration enabling several trucks to tailgate each other with very short distances using connectivity technology and automated driving support systems. In its ultimate automated implementation, only the first truck will be steered by a driver, and the others would follow autonomously. In the near future, however, all vehicles will still be manned in interlinked convoys. The drivers of the tailgating trucks then have little opportunity to attune themselves to the curves in the road and any unevenness, which can easily lead to motion sickness. This is where optimum driver’s cabin damping such as CALM or also CDC can help.
In addition, the pursuit of increased safety in freight transportation and greater comfort for the driver is not just a European phenomenon. This trend is also gaining ground in the highly dynamic markets of the BRIC countries – with commensurate market opportunities for ZF.