Autocar LLC now offers an Engineered Machined Products Inc. (EMP) Smart Flow electric fan Cool Pack on select ACX refuse trucks. The e-fan system’s design helps reduce fuel consumption, noise and radiator clogging, the company says.
Autocar worked with EMP, a producer of mechanical and electric water and oil pumps, electric fans, thermal management systems and highly complex precision machined components on the project. As a result, ACX refuse trucks without front-end power take-off (PTO) have the choice of the EMP cool pack featuring the Smart Flow E-fan system or the standard cool pack with a mechanical fan. Both configurations will be standard option choices in Autocar’s ACX refuse trucks.
“Autocar has long been an innovator of new technologies for heavy-duty trucks,” says Marc de Smidt, Autocar Truck vice president, ACX Refuse Engineering. “We have worked with EMP to fully integrate this new electric fan technology as a standard OEM option in our system and not as an add-on.”
A smart fan that keeps its cool
EMP Director of Sales and Marketing Todd Kangas says the concept of using an electric fan is not new; EMP has provided electric fans and electric components to the transit bus industry for years. Traditional mechanical fans are either two-speed, or they’re either on or off. Because of this, the traditional fan draws more power from the engine than is needed, which in turn consumes more fuel while bogging down the engine. The electric fan systems are full variable speed and only provide the necessary airflow to meet an engine’s cooling requirements. As a result, there are zero parasitic draws and less fuel consumption with the electric fans.
“We saw a need for this kind of technology in the refuse industry,” Kangas says. “Refuse is similar to transit in the same kind of duty cycles with lots of stop and go. The mechanical fan pulls about 37 HP from the engine. If the engine is a 350 HP, that means 10 percent of the engine power is being used to drive the fan. If you need more power for the engine, that will make you guzzle more fuel. Once you pull that mechanical fan and remove that parasitic load, it frees up the horsepower on the engine and can save fuel and add to the engine’s capabilities.”
Even more smart fan benefits
Reduced thermal cycling is another benefit of the EMP Smart Flow E-Fan. The electric fans optimize the engine's temperature, reducing wear and load on the engine, hoses and radiator. In addition, when the electric cool pack detects a retarder request, the fans immediately react to reduce the oil temperature going into the transmission. The engine then remains consistent in temperature and minimizes scaled-down thermal cycling.
“With the EMP e-fan system, operators can run and gun while potentially saving fuel,” Kangas says. “The data we have collected on similar systems demonstrates that the horsepower saved may allow them to finish their route a little bit quicker.”
The EMP fan system also helps address radiator clogging and reduces some truck maintenance requirements because of the reversible capability of the electric fans. The electric fans can be reversed and assist in debris removal from the radiator. Furthermore, the e-fan system only draws the required amount of air through the cool pack, which has fewer fins per inch than the standard radiator and is less likely to clog, the company says.
“Plugged radiators from trash and debris have challenged the refuse industry,” Kangas says. “If they can’t move air and keep the coolant temperatures down, the engine will overheat. These fleet owners spend hours doing monthly preventative maintenance to deal with this issue. With the electric fan, we can save them manpower and time. Circuit boards control our Smart Flow E-Fan system. We can do a lot for the maintenance side through the reversal and speeds of the fans.”
Finally, the e-fan system helps reduce noise. A mechanical fan attached to a typical CNG or diesel truck creates a roar as the vehicle accelerates. “Everyone is familiar with the roar that comes from the huge fan that has to turn on to cool the engine. Essentially, the EMP electric fan system turns on the fans individually and cools the engine while picking up refuse cans. That is something a mechanical fan in a truck can’t do. So, the electric fan system mitigates the roar and loudness,” Kangas says.
Kangas explains that the Smart Flow E-Fan System’s technology is integrated into the Autocar smart dash, which ties into the truck’s dashboard to provide reversal and diagnostic capability without an external data link adapter or service tool. The data is saved, allowing mechanics, owners, fleet managers, operators and even engineers to download the truck’s diagnostic history to determine if the fans are working correctly.
Operators can manually control each fan through that dashboard and turn it off and on or reverse it. The dashboard controls also help detect potential engine problems. “The fleet maintenance manager will appreciate the ability to troubleshoot and understand the fan system through the remote diagnostics capabilities,” Kangas says.
“Consumer trucks and cars have been equipped with electric fans for years,” Kangas says. “Why would we not have this technology in heavy-duty vocational trucks? And, who better to partner with than an innovative company like Autocar.”