Transmissions: The Control of Power

Since the beginning of time, humans have had a natural desire to control, with the ultimate goal of controlling power. Visitors are able to experience this first-hand at Systems & Components, where intricate pieces come together to create systems to transform and differentiate, control, the power created by engines – transmissions.

This technology, and more, will be on display this November at Systems & Components in AGRITECHNICA 2017, the world’s largest tradeshow in agricultural machinery.

From flat belts to electrification

Transmissions have come leaps and bounds from Leonardo da Vinci’s first sketch of a continuously variable transmission in 1490 to basic flat belts in the 19th century and the right angle drives used in windmills, horse-powered devices and steam engines. Canadian steam engineer Alfred Horner Monro invented the first automatic transmission using compressed air in 1921, while General Motors created the first automatic transmission using hydraulic liquid, the predecessor of today’s transmissions, in the 1930s.

AGRITECHNICA plays an important role in this history. It was at this show in 1995 where Fendt presented the 926 Vario, the world’s first high-horsepower tractor with a continuously variable Vario transmission. November 2016 saw the 250,000th Vario transmission produced, and since then, multiple improvements have been made to arrive at the Fendt VarioDrive, “the first drive train that drives both axles independently.” (Source:

Automatic transmissions have increasingly more electronically controlled operations seeing that mechanical automatic transmissions have reached their maximum whereas electrification in this field is only just beginning.

Connectivity in transmissions

Transmission manufacturer ZF is on the forefront of the latest technology with their new Innovation Tractor, which will be displayed at Systems & Components. As ZF stated, “Drivetrain electrification in the Innovation Tractor comes courtesy of the powerful ZF TERRA+ generator module. An electric single-wheel drive for trailers and implements coupled with specially developed traction management provides optimum maneuverability off-road.”

Carraro DriveTech, one of the leading agricultural machinery manufacturers, has developed a range of transmissions that offer optimal combinations of traction and PTO power, consequently resulting in superior productivity and efficiency for utility and specialty machinery.

The Power Shift Dual Clutch transfers power from the engine through two parallel paths and has two sets of gears that can be shifted in sequence, thus never interrupting power to the wheels. The Carraro Twin Shift ™ units, based on this technology, provide rapid shifting response, full power shift and minimal power loss, thus ensuring the best possible combination of fuel efficiency and productivity for every application.

The core of high-tech transmissions: CAN bus

Fabio Gallo, Strategic Marketing Director of Carraro, simply stated, “The whole system, not just the mechanical side, but also electronic and hydraulic, must all be connected like the human nervous system. CAN bus, the data exchange system, is the central line between the engine and transmission.”

CAN bus was developed to facilitate and standardize data exchange between various sub-systems through a single standard connection that links the various central lines (ECUs – Electronic Control Unit) and sensors in an efficient and reliable way. Carraro has taken CAN bus to a new level with their development of a high-speed CAN bus connection between the ECU transmission and the engine ECU to further improve fuel efficiency and productivity.

One of the most interesting aspects of the CAN bus system is that it gives the transmission ECU the possibility to connect to the vehicle’s control network and “speak” with all of the electronic systems in real time. In this way, it functions as the vehicle’s “nervous system” in a quick and reliable way in all working conditions, including those which are very difficult – commonly found in agricultural machinery. This inter-connectivity of the various systems improves efficiency, reliability, safety and ultimately productivity.

Automatic transmissions are heading towards automation – electrification is just the beginning. “Connectivity – Stay with us, stay connected!” – the main theme of Systems & Components 2017 says it all. Take a step back to the roots and admire the art of engineering.

All information for visitors and exhibitors is available online at

Media contacts:

DLG Italia srl

Kirsten Welter

Nicoletta Frioni
Tel: +39 051 0068343 Email:

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