Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Delphi introduces plug-in telematics for aftermarket service

Image: Delphi Telematics Overview.jpg
Auto IQ uses a device that plugs into a vehicle’s OBD II connector. Vehicle data is transmitted to Delphi cloud servers, which identify service/maintenance needs, communicate with aftermarket parts suppliers, and via email or text message, the motorist.
The independent automotive service aftermarket holds a commanding share—nearly 72%—of the market, most of which is won when the vehicle warranty has expired. However, the drop in the number of car dealers during the recession, which should have given the independent a new opportunity, has been countered by OE telematics installations that establish dealer shop-to-car communication. The connectivity can deliver road service requests, send vehicle health reports, receive remote diagnostic reports, and schedule service appointments.
These are powerful weapons, enabling the dealer to create a seamless transition from the warranty period. But now the aftermarket is developing its telematics responses, and adding dealer-level service capabilities. Delphi Product and Service Solutions, in conjunction with aftermarket partners, unveiled its multipart system at the recent AAPEX Show during Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week in Las Vegas.
The overall system, called Auto IQ, features the Connected Car Telematics Solution (CCTS). This device plugs into the vehicle’s under-dash OBD II connector and, through a cellular modem or a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone, communicates through the cloud with Delphi firewall-protected servers within a virtual private network.
Although the CCTS doesn’t have access to the OE external communications systems, Delphi does have the ability to use both generic and OE-enhanced OBD II data and special algorithms to derive the equivalent data it needs. This data, which includes vehicle mileages, is sent to the servers at preprogrammed intervals or when a real-time action occurs, such as logging of a diagnostic trouble code (DTC).
The CCTS is expected to be especially appealing to those driving cars that were not factory-equipped with telematics and also to the majority of motorists who choose to switch to the independent garage, whether they have an OE telematics system or not.

Identifies VIN for diagnostics  

The Delphi servers can identify the VIN (vehicle identification number) so therefore can produce make/model/year identification if a DTC is logged, decide if that indicates a specific repair part is likely to be needed, and transmit the data to servers in a designated aftermarket service network. CCTS similarly can determine from mileage and time data if maintenance is needed and also communicate that information to the servers in the aftermarket service chain. In both cases, it additionally would send out an email and/or text notification to the motorist. 
Further, by integration into a part supplier’s e-catalog, CCTS can get the parts number and ensure that the servicing shop has it or ready access to it. At the garage end, integration of CCTS into the shop management system also completes the network between a customer and his chosen garage, including scheduling of appointments and even road service. The plug-in device, as a result, likely would be installed by the garage and the tie-in subscription established with Delphi. The fee structure for the service has not been announced, but Delphi said it would be tailoring packages depending on such factors as the requested level of functionality.
The plug-in device was developed by Delphi in conjunction with Aftermarket Telematics Technologies (ATT), a software firm with which a relationship was established. ATT created what Delphi described as a series of interfaces that fit well into the independent aftermarket structure, specifically the communication between motorist, independent garage, and parts supplier. CCTS was named the first winner of the Aftermarket Telematics Challenge by the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association. AAIA has been moving on several fronts to spur aftermarket competitiveness, also including diagnostics, access to OE service information and reprogramming, and rapid ordering and delivery of parts, through its eShop/"Shop of Tomorrow” program. The objective is to promote a network of equipment, software, and parts suppliers that are compatible with the open standards of the AAIA initiative.
Delphi also announced its mobile e-catalog, based on the online catalog for PCs but capable of automatic optimization for smartphone/tablet formats, including Apple (iPhone and iPad), Android, and Windows phones and tablets. It does not require downloading an app, just entering If the technician knows the part number, he enters it and the part itself is shown. Or he can enter year, make, and model and get to the part number in three “touch/clicks.”

Supports widely used protocols

Delphi’s Auto IQ uses a PC platform with a vehicle communications interface (VCI) device (plugs into the OBD II connector at one end, the PC or a tablet at the other). It supports most automotive data bus, diagnostic, and reprogramming protocols, including SAE J2534 (“Pass-Thru”), SAE J1850, CCD (Chrysler Collision Detection), ISO 9141 and 15765, Keyword Protocol (KWP) 2000/ISO 14230, and General Motors UART (Universal Asynchronous Receiver/Transmitter) and CAN.
The VCI, supplied by Blue Streak Electronics, is capable of OE-level reprogramming via the SAE J2534 protocol.
At the independent garage service level, Auto IQ and the VCI also provide such OE functionality as access to repair information, enhanced diagnostic data, and bidirectional controls, of which there are thousands for GM, Chrysler, and Ford. It also can graph up to 16 data items, in color, on a PC or tablet screen.

ZF explores composites for lightweight truck-chassis design

Image: ZF composite 4-point link.jpg
ZF’s “study” of a four-point link made from glass-fiber-reinforced plastic reduces weight by approximately 11 kg (24 lb), or 25%, compared to the 46-kg (101-lb) standard cast component. The program’s target was to reduce weight by 30%, “so we have some more potential” through design optimization, said chassis development boss Holger Bublies. (Image by Ryan Gehm)
ZF is doing its part to help reduce emissions and improve the fuel efficiency of commercial vehicles, namely through its development of advanced transmission systems such as the new modular TraXon automatic transmission for trucks, which includes a hybrid module, as well as with other electrified driveline technologies. But as CEO Dr. Stefan Sommer noted at the IAA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover this fall, lightweight design is another major focus of the supplier’s development activities.
Along with optimized design, including the integration of functions for individual components, new materials for heavy-truck applications, particularly in the chassis, are leading ZF’s lightweight charge. One example on display at the IAA show was a “study” of a four-point link made from glass-fiber-reinforced plastic (GFRP) that reduces weight by approximately 11 kg (24 lb), or 25%, compared to the 46-kg (101-lb) standard cast component.
(See for coverage of the supplier’s use of composites in passenger-car chassis.)
“We have one four-point link in serial production for MAN. It is a cast part, and it’s nearly the same dimension, the same function. Our job was to look for more weight savings,” Holger Bublies, Head of Development for ZF’s Commercial Vehicle Chassis Modules business unit, explained to SAE Magazines. Given the weight-savings potential of composite materials, the investigation started there.
“We set out to answer, ‘Is it possible to use this material for this component?’ It is really a harsh function,” he said. The four-point link merges functions for longitudinal and lateral axle guidance as well as for active roll stabilization.
“With this function integration, you can have a solution without a separate stabilizer and stabilizer links; you can save about 50-60 kilos on one axle,” Bublies said.
Another target of the investigation was to examine production methods in an effort to reduce costs. For this prototype fiber-composite part, the process is more manual, but ZF is working on resin transfer molding (RTM) for serial production.
“In the truck business, you need to earn money with your truck. Weight savings is a big point, but cost is an even bigger point,” he said. This mentality explains the usage of glass-fiber reinforcement for the prototype part: “Carbon is a factor of 8 or 10 more expensive,” Bublies shared.
What is an acceptable increase in cost for a composite part to be competitive with an incumbent part? According to information Bublies has gathered, a cost increase of about €5-10/kg of weight reduction could tip the scales in favor of the lighter-weight material. The ZF project currently is still “a little bit higher” than that €10/kg bogey.
“At this really early stage, [the part and process] are not optimized,” he said. “Now after the test results, we have to validate our simulation models. We have to learn many things in this project because to design such a part with this material is a totally new thing. We think it’s possible to decrease weight another some kilos, and we are also working on production.”
Bublies’ hope is that eventually the GFRP four-point link will become a solution offered in truck OEMs’ “super efficiency” models.
“Of course today OEMs have lightweight vehicles, and this could be one more option for them,” he said. “Yes, we are a bit more expensive, but not as much as we thought at the beginning of the program.”
ZF currently has one workshop producing the composite part, and testing continues on the internal ZF program. (The supplier is not working with MAN on the project, Bublies said, but it has shared with the OEM some of the results thus far.)
“The whole technology—composites—is a big item in the ZF Group,” he said. “We have this central development center in Friedrichshafen, and they have their own experts that do this. So we are the business unit; we are the experts on the product, and we have at the central development center some experts for the material, for production, and then we have a joint team working on this program.”
He is not certain when the part will make it to series production, stating “not next year; maybe in five years or so.”

Biofuel opportunities and pitfalls

Image: Yeast.jpg
Neste Oil’s NExBTL renewable diesel technology starts by using yeast and fungi to convert sugars from waste and residue into microbial oil.
As nations grapple with emissions, oil-security, and energy-price matters, aggressive investment, regulation, and corporate involvement have propelled the alternative-fuels industry to commercial relevance. Alternative fuels today have a total capacity capable of replacing 4.8% of current oil capacity.
However, growth has slowed significantly. Since 2005, annual capacity growth has been roughly 22%; but growth through 2015 will be about 5% per year. As supply grows and logistical hurdles associated with feedstock and fuels increase, a new crop of technologies is emerging to add to the growing alternative-fuels space.
According to Lux Research, the world has capacity to produce 32.7 billion gal (124 billon L) of ethanol, 15.6 billion gal (60 billion L) of biodiesel, and 1.0 billion gal (4 billion L) of other alternative fuels today—4.8% of the 1023 billion gal (3872 billion L) conventional market.
Flawed though they are, biodiesel and ethanol account for 98% of all biofuels in the world. But because of those flaws—technical and logistical issues, fuel blend limits, and the nagging food vs. fuel debate—ethanol and biodiesel capacity will grow relatively slowly for the next five years, with ethanol growing at 5.6% annually and biodiesel 1.9%. Even with their slow growth, ethanol and biodiesel will remain the dominant fuels in 2015, accounting for 96% of total alternative fuels. Then they will start to cede ground to the faster-growing renewable diesel, which is the brightest crayon in the box of other fuels.
Ethanol is the most geographically consolidated biofuel, with Brazil and the U.S. accounting for 76% of global ethanol capacity thanks to massive supplies of sugarcane and corn, respectively, and favorable government support. Europe represents a meager 9.3% of global ethanol capacity, and China dominates the Asia-Pacific region in ethanol capacity today. North America and South America have a combined 4.2 billion gal (16 billion L) of biodiesel capacity installed today, representing 29% of the global biodiesel capacity. Europe dominates biodiesel capacity with 46% of the global total, or 6.6 billion gal (25 billion L).

Public sector support

Alternative transportation fuels stand where they do today thanks in large part to aggressive government targets of alternative-fuels blending, and the subsidies and loan guarantees to help reach that goal. These policies—and their level of success—vary from region to region and even city to city, because the entire alternative-fuels ecosystem is hyperlocal. Regulators hope to help alternative-fuels developers compete with the economics of oil by subsidizing crops and fuel blends, minimizing processing and logistical costs, and putting other rules in place that capitalize on local feedstocks to produce fuels for local markets.
Government support for biofuels comes in many flavors, with mandates, tax credits, tariffs, and loans the most common. Overarching mandates such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in the U.S. are constantly under the microscope; this is currently the case due to high corn prices and unavailable advanced biofuels. Loan guarantees, similarly, are getting their fair share of scrutiny—the “No More Solyndras” Act to limit U.S. Department of Energy loan guarantees is currently heading to the Senate.
Throughout the world, debt crises and sagging economics are forcing regulators to slash budgets, and fuel incentives are often on the chopping block. Although pockets of government support exist today, investors and producers should focus on economics first, and look to government support later.

Technical innovation

Generally speaking, yeast ferment corn- and sugarcane-based sugars into ethanol, and vegetable oils are catalytically converted into biodiesel. Biofuel companies, for the most part, capitalize on the “hyperlocal” nature of this industry—sourcing feedstock, producing fuel, and selling that fuel all in one region. As the aforementioned food crop economic and regulatory issues push fuel producers onto second-generation feedstocks, cellulosic ethanol producers are emerging with a range of different conversion technologies to economically extract sugar from cellulose. This conversion has been historically very expensive, but as costs decline producers are looking to capitalize on vastly cheaper and more abundant agricultural and forestry waste as the biofuel feedstock of the future.
Cellulosic fuel efforts will still be nascent in 2015, so that fuel type will remain a small percentage of biofuels even in the most optimistic scenarios. Even if all announced facilities are built on time, cellulosic ethanol would represent only 1% of total ethanol capacity in the world in 2015. Besides ethanol, cellulosic sugars will be converted into butanol, diesel, plastics, and other chemicals.
Additionally, waste feedstocks such as sludge, municipal waste, and waste vegetable oil are becoming a more attractive option, while the ultimate next-generation alternative-fuels feedstock, algae, mostly remains behind scale and is often used to produce omega-3’s, not fuels.
In addition to tapping into new feedstocks, companies are making new types of fuels; renewable diesel by Neste Oil is leading the way. (Renewable diesel is more similar to regular diesel than is biodiesel and can be blended into regular diesel at higher concentrations.)
Many next-generation fuel producers are inherently flexible, as producers can straddle the line between making fuels and chemicals. Selling into chemical markets can help producers get product online early, as those markets typically have higher-value products and an easier road to market. Gevo, for example, is producing bio-based isobutanol, which can be blended into gasoline or converted to diesel or jet fuel, though the company is targeting the solvent and chemicals markets (for rubber and PET, among others). Similarly, Virent’s aromatics platform can produce renewable gasoline, and also paraxylene for PET.

The customers

Large oil companies such as Shell and BP are not the only corporations driving this next wave of biofuels forward; OEMs such as General Motors and Volkswagen have several relationships with start-up biofuel developers including cellulosic ethanol hopefuls Mascoma and Coskata and renewable diesel producers Solazyme and Amyris. While these fuels are rather easy to drop into the existing fuel supply, other automakers are targeting novel fuels that would require a larger overhaul on infrastructure.
For example, Swedish DME maker Chemrec is part of a BioDME consortium that includes Haldor Topsøe, Total, Volvo Trucks, and Delphi. Through this collaboration, Haldor Topsøe will provide the technology to convert syngas to DME for use in Volvo’s DME-compatible trucks. The DME is transported to four fueling stations run by Preem and is used to power 10 Volvo trucks. Volvo reported positive results from the tests thus far, with the trucks covering over 450,000 km (280,000 mi) and experiencing a noticeable reduction in emissions.
While DME has an uphill battle to penetrate the passenger vehicle market due to infrastructure needs, this fuel type may find an easier path to market in truck and off-highway applications. Many delivery trucks and construction vehicles return to the same base every day and would require only one central fueling station, rather than multiple public stations.
Unlike other transportation applications in which the end user is purchasing the fuels, jet fuel purchasing is more centralized. With centralized purchasing, airlines are willing to invest in developing jet fuel opportunities, since jet fuel is such a large part of operating expenses. Both the aviation and off-highway industries present opportunities for developers to avoid some of the issues associated with fueling infrastructure that limit so many other alternative fuels.
This article was written for SAE Magazines by Andrew Soare, Analyst, Lux Research

2013 MV Agusta Rivale 800 Revealed Before EICMA

The 2013 version of the MV Agusta Rivale has been one of the most talked about bikes among the motoring circles ever since the company first released the official sketch of the bike few weeks ago. The bike is slated to be launched at the upcoming EICMA International Motorcycle Show but before that the company continues to push some details of the bike to the media to keep the buzz going. This time, the company has released some more pictures and details about the bike which gives us a proper look at the upcoming version and what to actually expect at the motor show. Looking at the pictures, it is clear that MV Agusta wants to take on the hypermotard market with the Rivale 800.
An interesting thing to note here is the bike bears a striking resemblance (the front visage looks very similar) with the Ducati Hypermotard. The chassis and the engine is derived from the Brutale 800. The Rivale is powered by the same 796cc, 3 cylinder engine that does duty on the MV Agusta Brutale 800. This again is a bumped up version of the MV Agusta’s 675cc engine. MV Agusta says that the displacement comes from an additional 8.4mm stroke to go with the existing 79mm bore and this configuration results in 125 horsepower at the crankshaft. Other features those have found their way to the bike include ride-by-wire, three engine maps, MV Agusta’s MVICS electronics package which has an eight-way adjustable traction control system and a lot more.
The Rivale 800 gets a signature steel-tube trellis frame that gives slightly more relaxed geometry than the Brutale 800. The bike has a kerb weight of 375 pounds. In the suspension area, the bike gets fully adjustable suspension components from Marzocchi and Sachs. Braking power is expected to be provided by 320mm discs with radial mount calipers from Brembo. About the design, the company quotes that the Rivale 800 exudes an emotive design from every angle. Most importantly, three elements, the mudguard, the side panels and the fuel tank are individually united to form a strong visual shield graphic that makes this machine instantly recognizable. Singularly MV Agusta. The Rivale 800 is set to go on sale in the summer of 2013.

Bobcat launches loaders with improved hydraulics, efficiencies

Image: 500%20-%205.jpg
Bobcat's new T550 compact track loader features a radius lift path for maintaining visibility when dumping over a wall or backfilling.
According to Bobcat, nearly one out of every two skid-steer loaders on the market is a Bobcat machine. The company, which produced its first skid-steer loader in 1960, recently announced seven new medium-size machines with extensive feature upgrades, including increased visibility, a more comfortable cab, and easier serviceability. New machines include the S510, S530, S550, S570, and S590 skid-steer loaders, and the T550 and T590 compact track loaders.
The S510, S550, and T550 feature a radius lift path for the reach and visibility required for dumping over a wall, backfilling, or loading flatbed trucks.
The S530, S570, S590, and T590 M-Series machines feature a vertical lift path, allowing heavier loads to be lifted higher to clear high-sided truck boxes and hoppers, as well as place pallets loaded with heavy material.
Bobcat says the M-Series loaders feature increased lift height, better performance, and increased operator comfort compared to the equivalent K-Series models—S150, S160, S175, S185, S205, T180, and T190—that they will replace.
The 500 frame-size loaders feature a unique cab-forward design that not only gives the machines a different look but also moves the operator closer to the attachment and provides improved visibility in all directions.
One new feature touted by Bobcat to offer increased visibility to the cutting edge of the bucket, or the corners of an attachment, is what it claims is the largest cab door opening on the market. The cab door threshold has been lowered and the overall surface of the door has increased more than 40% to not only improve visibility but to make it easier for operators to enter and exit the cab. The height of the cab has been increased, providing additional headroom, while still keeping the overall machine size small enough to operate in tight spaces.
Windows on the sides and rear of the cab have also been increased in size to provide more visibility to the tires and back of the machine. The larger top window makes it easier and more comfortable for the operator to see an attachment with the lift arms raised, an advantage when loading trucks or performing other tasks.
Simple check points were included in the machines’ design to make it easier to perform maintenance correctly at the proper intervals. The auxiliary hydraulic quick couplers are mounted directly to the front plate of the lift arm to provide a solid mounting, and hoses are routed through the loader arms for better protection.
A guard bar extends in front of the coupler for added security and a steel tailgate prevents items from penetrating the engine compartment.
Keeping the loaders cool when working long hours is important in prolonging the service life of the machine, and Bobcat says its engineers designed the cooling system with increased efficiency and higher performance in mind. The new design also makes it easier to clean out the cooling system, with an oil cooler that swings up, allowing the operator to clean the area between the oil cooler and the radiator.
Comfortable operators are more productive, so to create a better working environment, Bobcat increased the size of the 500 loader cab by 10%, redesigned the interior to allow operators to adjust the environment to their individual preferences, and improved cab pressurization.
The 500 loaders have what Bobcat claims as a best-in-class pressurized cab with a new one-piece seal that goes all the way around the door and fits into a special curved pocket. That design minimizes the amount of dirt and dust that might enter the cab, creating more enjoyable working conditions and making it easier to clean the cab.
Operators have the choice between standard foot pedal hydraulic controls, the Advanced Control System (ACS), or the Selectable Joystick Controls (SJC). The standard foot pedals control the lift and tilt through mechanical linkage.
Optional ACS lets the loader operator use a dash-mounted switch to instantly select between advanced hand control or advanced foot control of lift and tilt functions.
The low-effort control levers of the optional SJC can be operated in the ISO or H pattern. These handles move up and down in conjunction with the seat to reduce arm movement and operator fatigue. The joystick mounts also slide forward or backward to adjust to the preference of each individual operator.
The hydraulic systems on M-Series loaders have been engineered for higher standard flow and pressure, which gives attachments more power to work more quickly. Size, horsepower, and displacement are matched to the loader’s rated operating capacity, balance, and weight, producing a loader that can outperform higher-horsepower machines, says Bobcat.
The skid-steer models offer a two-speed option that boosts the maximum travel speed from 7.4 mph (12 km/h) in low range to 11 mph (18 km/h) in high range, reducing the time it takes to cross a large farm or acreage. The hydraulic bucket positioning option keeps the loader bucket level as the lift arms travel upward, enabling operators to work faster.
An optional instrumentation panel available only on M-Series loaders, intelligently monitors key loader functions, and the keyless start helps prevent theft. The 5-in, full-color LCD screen offers better readability and interaction. Easy-to-read virtual sweep gauges allow the operator to quickly read and understand the machine’s performance.