Trusted because it's tested: Cummins-powered GILLIG Battery Electric Bus

Cummins-powered GILLIG Battery Electric Bus

Trusted because it’s tested.  

What do sand bags, mountains, a drone and a film crew all have in common? Well, not much, except that they were all an important part of GILLIG and Cummins’ effort to illustrate the extent of the testing and validation process for the Cummins-powered GILLIG battery electric bus.  

Since 2017 when Cummins and GILLIG announced the partnership to work together on developing an industry-leading all-electric powertrain, both organizations have worked diligently to engineer, test and validate our offering. This is no easy feat, but one that helps distinguish us from the competition. As we bring forward new technologies, we do so with the same commitment to quality customers have come to expect. But how?  

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  - Thomas Edison

Testing and validation 

A critical piece in bringing forth best-in-class solutions is Cummins commitment to test and validate our offerings against the needs of the customer. For our battery electric system (BES), this means validating products on a component level (e.g. Cummins proprietary BP74E batteries), a powertrain level, and even more broadly working with GILLIG to test performance of the overall bus.  

Ultimately, like most students taking a test, we want to pass. But, just as Thomas Edison noted, the ability to innovate would not be complete without small failures along the way. Testing, and not succeeding is also critical to the process. The failed tests provide insight on the current limits of a product so that designs can be adjusted, and performance optimized to meet the many different scenarios our customers will see in their daily work. We’d be failing our customers, without a few failures along the way.  

Real world conditions

GILLIG and Cummins also take pride in validating our products under real world scenarios, not just ideal conditions. To this end, which was illustrated recently in the gradeability test for the GILLIG bus, various tests were run on the bus as it was loaded with sandbags to simulate the weight of passengers. A powertrain that can operate efficiently, but can only do so empty, is of no value to a community looking to transport people all day, every day.  

Similarly, we work closely with field test customers to refine solutions and deliver a trusted and reliable product. Big Blue Bus in Santa Monica, who received the first field test bus in July 2019, has been a critical partner in providing feedback using real routes and day-to-day operating scenarios. Working with valued customers and end users to identify opportunities that can be enhanced is crucial. The collaboration and partnership that field test customers provide allows us to deliver a product that will meet and exceed customer expectations. Thankfully, the field test has gone well, and as testament to that Big Blue Bus announced that they will be purchasing 18 additional electric buses.  

Trust: a commitment we take seriously 

So, the next time you’re driving up a mountain or simply travelling in your city, and see a Cummins-powered GILLIG battery electric bus, rest assured that it has been through an extensive testing process to ensure safety and reliability. Our customers and communities trust us – and that is something we don’t take lightly.  

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Brian Wilson talks innovative solutions and partnership on The Green Chair

Brian Wilson talks innovative solutions and partnership on The Green Chair

Brian Wilson, General Manager of Electrified Components at Cummins, sits in the green chair to talk about Cummins’ role in the Kalmar Electric Terminal Tractor Project with Malgorzata (Gosia) Michalska, Project Portfolio & Sourcing Director, Terminal Tractors at Kalmar Electric. From powertrain solutions to building new batteries, Brian explains how Cummins supports the development of the Kalmar Ottawa T2E+ Electric Terminal Tractor and why the time to go electric is now.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

First look at new generation of zero-emissions transit buses powered by Cummins

First look at new generation of zero-emissions transit buses powered by Cummins

Canadian bus manufacturer Letenda officially unveiled its new generation of zero-emission transit buses.

Powered by Cummins, the Electrip® is the first model in the Letenda line of battery electric transit buses designed specifically to operate in Canadian winter conditions using electric propulsion. At 30 feet long, this flat foot bus can accommodate up to 45 people, including 24 seated passengers and up to six wheelchairs.

Letenda buses

The bus utilizes the Cummins complete electrified powertrain solution, including powertrain controls, three battery packs providing 222kWh capacity, propulsion motor, power electronics, charging controls and connectivity systems.  

See the new zero-emission transit buses

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Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Do electric excavators have a future in construction?

The construction industry has more than 733,000 employers and over 7 million employees. It is a top contributor to the U.S. economy, generating nearly $1.4 trillion worth of structures each year. And according to the United Nations Environment Program, buildings and their construction together account for more than 35% of global energy use and nearly 40% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions annually.

As the world is faced with the climate crisis, the construction industry has to find ways to adopt greener energy solutions. It is a critical challenge to ensure the momentum of transformation for lowering construction emissions does not slow.

Cummins builds a pathway to more sustainable construction

In 2018, Hyundai Construction Equipment and Cummins announced that they would jointly develop electric-powered mini excavators. Since then, prototypes of the mini excavators have been developed and the two companies have gathered initial market feedback and continue to refine the product for target customer use-cases.

Now, Hyundai and Cummins are moving this long-term, productive partnership into its next phase – field testing.

During this phase, prototypes of a production intent design are handed over to customers to gain real world experience and to test and validate the adoptability of electric-powered mini excavators against the needs of those customers. Field testing plays an essential role in delivering best-in-class solutions that meet or exceed the durability and reliability expectations that Hyundai and Cummins are recognized for in the industry.

Field testing is an essential piece in delivering best-in-class solutions and demonstrates how we are always innovating for safety and performance. Duplicating real-world environment testing under Hyundai’s operating conditions and duty cycles, we will monitor the mini excavators’ adoptability, performance and reliability.

Why are excavators a good candidate for electrification?

Zero-emissions

As stricter standards for zero-emissions continue to arise, even off-highway applications have begun to feel the push to lower their CO2 emissions. Urban cities have started to implement zero-emission zones (ZEZ) that require any vehicle, on- or off-highway, to comply with the area's regulations. For this reason, construction zones in urban cities have sought out electrified products, such as electric excavators, that match or exceed the reliability and performance of their diesel counterparts. These electric excavators are now considered invaluable for indoor construction sites, where the diesel counterparts were unable to function due to the fumes they emitted and poor ventilation.

Noise Pollution

As more cities implement ZEZs, there has been a noticeable decrease in noise pollution. What was once a loud machine that caused a disturbing ruckus when turned on, is now just as quiet when operating as it would be when turned off. A reduction in noise pollution is not only satisfying to the construction site’s surrounding areas, but in many ways decreasing environmental noise could have positive effects on passerby health. Regardless of noise, construction companies want assurance that these electrified excavators can get the job done.

An additional advantage of reducing noise pollution is improved communication between the operator of the excavator and other workers on-site. By removing the engine-induced vibrations, both the operator and the workers guiding the operator can better hear one another.

Interoperability

Operators have noted that there is no difference in machine interoperability between electric and diesel counterparts. The performance of an electric excavator easily matched the performance of diesel vehicles. Its motor’s response to fluctuations in load is faster due to the connectivity speed between the electric module and battery, allowing for better operating performance and feel.

Maintenance

Because electric excavators no long run on traditional fuel, the need for coolants and oil filters is eliminated and significantly decreases the maintenance intervals. The vehicles also have a lower number of parts that need to be maintained, which can potentially result in in the total cost of ownership to be more affordable than their diesel counterparts.

What are some of the challenges that electric excavators still face today?

Packaging

Packaging has always been a dilemma in the electrification space as these machines were optimized for a diesel engine, not batteries. While batteries are less energy dense than traditional fuel, they require additional components that a diesel engine and fuel cell do not, such as a thermal management system. So, the most prominent question engineers are working to answer is, how do you pack a battery with enough energy and all its components into an existing diesel machine?

Cooling and Heating

Being enclosed in such tight spaces and exposed to all types of weather, excavators need to perform under all kinds of temperatures. However, due to the machine's compactness, adding a component for cooling is not always possible. From a heating standpoint, the battery cannot operate if it's below 0 degrees Celcius due to its chemistry.

Cummins' demonstration powertrain solution

Cummins has designed a new electric powertrain for the smaller, more compact 1.9-tonne excavator. Similar to the 2018 model that was developed from scratch, these mini excavators feature a whole new powertrain that offsets some of the challenges of the application. With a new motor, onboard charger, electric hardware integration and never-before-used BM8.9E battery, this model of the excavator has been optimized for electrification.

While developing the design for the new electric mini-excavators, Cummins engineers needed to overcome the obstacle of packaging. In addition to using energy dense lithium ion batteries, Cummins engineers implemented creative, compact design solutions to optimize the packaging of the electric powertrain in the existing space claim of a diesel excavator. These solutions included custom motor-pump coupling assembly, split compact Power Distribution Unit solutions for maximizing space utilization and replacing a large mechanical fan mounted to the engine with a small electric fan that runs by battery to cool the hydraulic oil. The electric fan also has a smart feature which turns the fans on only as required so they are not running all the time.

To optimize the system further, Cummins added additional smart features across multiple components to increase efficiency. This new system will also include components to address battery temperature regulation – internal battery heaters for thermal management.

What are we hoping to learn with this next phase?

Cummins is building 11, 1.9-tonne battery-electric mini excavators. In 2022, nine of those excavators will be delivered to customers across Europe and South Korea for field testing to determine their adoptability in applications where diesel-powered excavators are traditionally used.

With this new battery electric solution working through field tests, Cummins hopes to better understand the product market, its demands and what impact electrified power will have on the construction industry. The test units will provide insights into end-users’ duty cycles, power demand, operator experience and associated field data.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Cummins enters agreement with Sion Power to develop lithium metal technology

Cummins is furthering their battery technology portfolio by entering an agreement with Sion Power Corporation, a leading developer of high-energy rechargeable battery technology, to design and supply battery cells based on their proprietary lithium metal technology for commercial vehicle applications. In connection with the agreement, Cummins has invested in Sion Power. The investment provides Cummins a minority stake in Sion Power and allows Sion Power to further develop their lithium metal technology for the commercial vehicle technology, positioning both companies for success in the future commercialization of the technology.

“Our customers rely on Cummins to provide the most robust electric powertrains in the world. We need battery technologies that will meet the performance and cost expectations for tough, commercial vehicle duty cycles.” - Amy Davis, Vice President at Cummins and President of the company’s New Power segment.

Under the agreement, Sion Power will engage in a multi-year development program to design and supply large-format lithium metal battery cells for use in Cummins battery packs. The batteries developed by Cummins will be integrated in its electric powertrains for commercial vehicles.

Sion Power’s high-energy battery chemistry is an important component of Cummins’ roadmap to electrify the company’s commercial vehicle products. Based on Sion Power’s proprietary lithium-metal anode technology and incorporating its patented manufacturing process, the cell provides a robust, long-lasting rechargeable battery for Cummins’ demanding applications.

“Sion Power’s Licerion® is an enabling technology for Cummins’ future electric commercial vehicle offerings. Cummins is an ideal partner for Sion Power to enable this next generation of electric mobility and significantly support the decarbonization of the transportation industry. Together this strategic relationship sets us on a path to deliver the future of batteries.” - Tracy Kelley, Chief Executive Officer at Sion Power.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

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