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The VariGlide transmission designed was developed by Dana Holding Corporation, a worldwide supplier of powertrain components such as axles, driveshafts, off-highway transmissions, sealling and thermal-management products and service parts headquartered in Maumee, Ohio. It was rolled out May 19 at the CeMAT materials handling trade show held in Hamburg, Germany.
A New Type of Transmission
What’s different about the VariGlide transmission is that it incorporates continuously variable plantary (CVP) technology, a patented type of traction drive that can replace the torque converter in some transmission configurations to decouple engine speed from the forklift’s travel or working speed.
This allows the forklift top accelerate and decelerate more rapidly and enables pinpoint positioning, according to a company news release. It also eliminates the need for forward and revers clutches and reduces overall engine speed, which means the engine can continuously operate at its optimum efficiency level and with a lower noise level.
A Breakthrough in Transmission Technology
Aziz Aghili, president of Dana’a off-highway driveline technologies division, said VariGlide is a game-changing breakthrough in forklift transmission technology.
“Dana devotes considerable resources to advanced engineering to produce breakthroughs in fuel efficiency and productivity,” Aghili said. “The momentum behind our VariGlide technology program shows how Dana is accelerating the development of innovations that can offer substantial gains with minimal changes to existing equipment designs.”
VeriGlide will be offered as a pre-assembled module providing a standard power-split configuration for forklift transmissions produced by original-equipment manufacturers. It also will implemented in a premium configuration to designed to optimize fuel efficiency and productivity gains in Dana’s Spicer line of powershift transmissions.
Potential Fuel Savings of 20%
In initial simulations, the VeriGlide transmission provided projected fuel savings of up to 20% for standard-sized forklift trucks operating with a typical pick-and-place operation, according to Dana’s own studies. The company currently is testing a 2.2-ton forklift with VariGlide technology.
The new transmission configuration ws developed by Dana through a strategic licensing relationship with Fallbrook Technologies Inc., a technology development firm based in Cedar Park, Texas.
Originally Designed for Bicylces
Fallbrook originally developed the CVT concept for use on bicycles. It later expanded its applications to include electric vehicles, lawn and garden equipment and forklifts. CVT allows vehicles to be shifted seamlessly from forward through zero to reverse and back.
VariGlide forklift transmissions are ideally suited for vehicles in the 1.5 to 3 ton range, which accounts for approximately 80% of the forklifts in use today.
CVT provides unparalleled power-path flexibility through a unique variator design configuration. A set of spinning planets is fitted between an input disc driven by the engine and an output disc that transfers power from the variator to downstream transmission components. As power enters the input disc, the planets tilt on their axes and changes ratios, depending on engine demands and controller input.
To efficiently transfer torque, a thin layer of traction fluid flows between the planets. When compressed, this traction fluid becomes momentarily rigid, allowing the torque to transfer between planets and discs without slippage. With numerous power paths and no abrupt ratio changes, CVT provides an infinite number of gear ratios for improving shifting, driving comfort, durability, scalability and efficiency.