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Still Moving Through the Gears

First published in the April 2021 issue of Quarry Management 

Volvo’s I-Shift transmission technology remains a breakthrough innovation after 20 years

Volvo Trucks’ I-Shift intelligent automated manual transmission innovation continues to be an important milestone in the industry, thanks to its positive impact on fuel consumption, vehicle performance, safety and driver comfort. By the end of 2020, more than 1 million Volvo trucks around the world had been sold with I-Shift, and as the company marks its 20th anniversary, this breakthrough powertrain technology is still being developed for future gains.

When I-Shift was first launched in 2001, Volvo Trucks confirmed their strong belief in a clutch-based transmission system as the most efficient design for automatic gear-changing. Today, all Volvo FH, FH16, FM and FMX trucks are fitted with I-Shift as standard. Being an automated system, I-Shift contributes to lower fuel consumption – and thereby reduced environmental impact – as well as delivering improved safety and driveability benefits, such as reduced noise, vibrations and physical strain on the driver.

‘I-Shift was and still is a major game-changer. We are now selling the I-Shift all over the world. In North America, we have increased from single-digit numbers in 2007 to today when more than 90% of all Volvo trucks there are equipped with the technology,’ said Pär Bergstrand, heavy-duty transmission manager at Volvo Trucks. ‘This impressive development clearly reflects both its increased efficiency and its driver appeal.’

Developed by Volvo, I-Shift is fully synchronized with the rest of the truck as the transmission uses information available from both the engine and the vehicle to work together in the most optimum way for different usages and truck combinations.

‘This synchronization is what sets I-Shift apart and makes it so versatile,’ explained Mr Bergstrand. ‘I-Shift is the positive result of many years of hard work by our skilled engineers, the feedback from customers in field tests for the development process, and Volvo Trucks’ access to technological advances across the entire Volvo Group.’

I-Shift’s success lies in its ability to work with the entire powertrain. With continuous improvements over the years, the system has been developed to meet the demands of a wide range of transport applications. Volvo Trucks has continued to pioneer numerous new intelligent functions that both drivers and hauliers have come to appreciate.

I-Shift with Dual Clutch

In 2014, Volvo Trucks unveiled the I-Shift with Dual Clutch – a heavy-duty dual clutch inspired by the gearboxes used in racing cars, that offered an instant and immediate feeling of seamless delivery of power during gear changes.

I-Shift with Crawler gears

Another significant step came in 2016, addressing heavy-duty assignments that require extra torque and startability. I-Shift with Crawler gears allows a truck transporting a gross combination weight up to 325 tonnes to start from standstill on a flat road. The gear ratio allows the truck to crawl at speeds as low as 0.5km/h, which is beneficial when performing precision manoeuvres, for example on construction sites or when paving roads.

I-See uses Cloud-based map data

I-See is a separate system that can be added to I-Shift. Updated in 2017, I-See supports the truck in maintaining a consistent average speed by analysing cloud-based map data about topography of the road ahead, telling I-Shift the optimum time to change gear in order to save fuel.

I-Shift with Change Direction function

The launch of Volvo Trucks’ new heavy-duty range in 2020 brought the introduction of another innovative function: I-Shift with Change Direction. This allows the truck to change direction without the driver needing to use the brake pedal, a feature particularly useful for construction and mining operations where it is more productive to perform repetitive manoeuvres back and forth at lower speed.

The latest generation of Volvo trucks also further reduces fuel consumption. The new Volvo FH with I-Save – Volvo Trucks’ most fuel-efficient long-haul truck to date – cuts fuel consumption by up to 10%. And, looking ahead, the innovative developments certainly are not stopping there.

‘I-Shift will continue to be improved for diesel trucks and it will also play an important role in our electromobility journey,’ said Mr Bergstrand. ‘As an advanced automation technology, I-Shift offers unique abilities to contribute to Volvo’s fully autonomous transport solutions of the future.’

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