Endurant automated transmission: A league of its own

Oct. 20, 2017
Some 42 months before the new Endurant automated transmission's launch, the program engineers locked themselves in an abandoned warehouse to start completely from scratch. Well, not quite, but close — and it was about that consummate a ground-up effort. Here are some scenes and impressions from testing out the transmission at Eaton Proving Grounds in Marshall, MI.

Some 42 months before the new Endurant automated transmission's launch, the program engineers locked themselves in an abandoned warehouse to start completely from scratch. Well, not quite, but close — and it was about that consummate a ground-up effort.

It was a very tightly-scheduled process that took three-and-a-half years, and there's no slack in that time frame that could've been cut out to accelerate the process. And instead of automating a traditional manual transmission, this flagship transmission from Eaton Cummins Automated Transmission Technologies is free from certain constraints and has some smart, new thinking built in.

For example, rated to handle 110,000 lbs. and weighing in with fluids at 657 lbs., the Endurant is lighter than most automated manual transmissions. How do you do that?

One way is to use less lubricant. Rather than having the gears essentially sitting in a "lube bath," the Endurant targets lubrication and sprays it directly where it's needed. Matt  Erdmann, manager of program management for the Eaton-Cummins joint venture, compares more typical transmission lubrication to the operation of a riverboat's paddle wheel.

"That's essentially what your gears are when they're in an oil bath," he explained. On a riverboat, "that impeller goes around, and you're losing energy with every tooth that hits that water bath."

"Well, there's a lot more effective way of getting gears lubricated if you just spray it at them," he added.

Here are some scenes and insights from a trip this week to Eaton Proving Grounds in Marshall, MI, where members of the media got a chance to test out the Endurant.

About the Author

Aaron Marsh

Before computerization had fully taken hold and automotive work took someone who speaks engine, Aaron grew up in Upstate New York taking cars apart and fixing and rewiring them, keeping more than a few great jalopies (classics) on the road that probably didn't deserve to be. He spent a decade inside the Beltway covering Congress and the intricacies of the health care system before a stint in local New England news, picking up awards for both pen and camera.

He wrote about you-name-it, from transportation and law and the courts to events of all kinds and telecommunications, and landed in trucking when he joined FleetOwner in July 2015. Long an editorial leader, he was a keeper of knowledge at FleetOwner ready to dive in on the technical and the topical inside and all-around trucking—and still turned a wrench or two. Or three. 

Aaron previously wrote for FleetOwner. 

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