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Moving forward through new research solutions

ummins Turbo Technologies are looking at innovative R&D solutions as the key to addressing the materials and cost debate

Cummins Turbo Technologies

 

As emissions regulations become more stringent and fuel costs continue to rise, automotive industry OEMs and end users want to make savings without foregoing the performance of their vehicles. Engine manufacturers and components companies are increasingly turning to new materials to overcome this major and growing challenge. In order to explore the opportunities of new materials within a timely, reliable and cost-effective manner, analytical and experimental-based solutions are needed to inform research, development and design of future products.

Cummins Turbo Technologies (CTT) is the first to bring to market such breakthrough solutions. In May the company unveiled two major pioneering technologies that aim to reinforce the R&D process, with the ultimate aim of reducing costs for customers and leading to more robust products throughout its range.

Investing in R&D
CTT has a long-standing reputation for working in partnership with customers to understand their applications and ensure solutions are robust and reliable. The company utilizes rigorous testing techniques to guarantee all elements of its turbocharger components – from reliability, durability and safety, to the impact of weather conditions and different types of usage. Its world-class manufacturing sites located around the globe include a range of facilities dedicated to research and development, including test cells capable of simulating varying conditions and a suite of 3D software solutions.
This heritage of R&D excellence stands the company in good stead to face the challenges of the future. Yet it is still a long and expensive process to undertake tests of new materials, and get them to the stage where they are fit for market.
“Bringing a new solution or material to market can take several years,” said Steve Caddy, director of advanced engineering and technology. “During that time we need to ensure that we have considered all variables and undertaken extensive and rigorous testing within these parameters. Without these processes we cannot guarantee safety and durability. It is vital that we look to new software solutions in the future to complement existing testing techniques and create the next series of technology solutions.”
CTT is building on its strong reputation for world-class research and development by working on groundbreaking new analytical and experimental solutions that will be used to add an extra layer of verification and analysis. The company is unveiling two major breakthrough technologies that aim to reinforce the R&D process, creating more sophisticated models of analysis to lead to more robust products throughout its range. These techniques have the capability to improve efficiency, performance and create cost savings for the end user.

3D bearing analysis software
Traditionally, turbochargers use a standard bearing, but in 2012 CTT revealed plans to develop its own, high-durability, low-friction ball-bearing solution, which improves transient response and lowers fuel consumption. The product, which goes beyond the Euro 6 requirements, enhances the performance of the turbocharger, delivering a 1% improvement in overall turbocharger efficiency.
Most existing software for the turbocharger rolling element bearings solution is currently 2D. However, CTT is launching new 3D software, developed by its research and development experts in Columbus, US, to analyze these rolling element bearings. The software provides a more detailed understanding of what happens to the bearings while the turbocharger is in use, as well as how a turbocharger performs with different bearing designs.
“Rolling element bearings are one of our future technologies and being able to analyze their use in this level of detail will give us the opportunity to enhance these products and bring customer solutions to market with an exceedingly high level of confidence,” Caddy said. “This software is developed by our world-class research and development experts and is unique to Cummins.
“Ultimately, the software will be used to improve efficiency, which clearly has a knock-on effect in terms of cost savings for the end user. In the immediate future it will be used to reduce noise and vibration and improve durability.”
By utilizing 3D solutions, there are also opportunities to investigate alternative materials options and assess their usage in a more timely way.

Experimental simulation
CTT also has a strong track record of developing materials for high-temperature applications. The company has unveiled its latest bespoke technique – a hardware-based experimental simulation and analysis of the wear behavior of a wastegate turbocharger.
Wastegate turbochargers are known for their high levels of durability, but a specific challenge for the market is the increasing cost of materials. CTT’s solution brings a pioneering new approach to the market. The technology characterizes the tribological performance of shaft and bush materials when subject to various conditions. The process, conducted ex-situ of a turbocharger, affords high levels of accuracy, repeatability and confidence, yet is considerably less time-consuming and substantially cheaper compared to turbocharger-based experiments conducted at the research and development phase.
“Like the 3D solution, in the long term this process will allow CTT to recommend alternative materials that would provide a cost saving without compromising on quality or performance,” Caddy said. “But this has the added benefit of being reinforced by robust testing data, so we can guarantee reliability within a shorter timeframe for R&D. We believe that this technique, unique to Cummins, gives us some of the answers to these key challenges – it will enable us to offer better performance at the same or a lower cost.”

Future Demand
While new solutions will inevitably take time to bring to market, these new research and development techniques are providing a driving force in the right direction. In order to meet the future demands of the marketplace, companies must look to the key challenges of cost and efficiency and this firmly remains the focus of CTT’s R&D strategy.

 

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12 June 2014

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