Caring for sustainable mobility with innovative solutions

SKF use advanced technology and more than 100-years of engineering knowledge to attain the right performance for cost-effective solutions. Here we examine some of the ways that the organization bridges the gap between market requirements and environmental concerns.

Based on its comprehensive knowledge of motion engineering, SKF can make a difference and contribute with sustainable solutions for the automotive industry.

Globally increasing energy demand is still mainly solved by burning of fossil fuels, resulting in, as we know, a rapidly growing increase of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. In this context, efficiency during the transformation of energy plays a decisive role. On the question of how to improve the mechanical efficiency, particularly in reducing friction losses, SKF contributes with developing innovative bearing and sealing solutions.

SKFs main focus is to reduce friction and weight, integrate sensors for intelligent functions, optimize powertrains, integrate components into modules and units, thereby reducing size and simplifying assembly. All this is aimed at customizing solutions with the right performance for the specific vehicle. 

In the product areas bearings and units, seals, lubrication systems, mechatronic as well as services, SKF combines its engineering knowledge to create sustainable solutions.

Engineering partners
In order to be as innovative and efficient as possible it is also important to partner with the right innovative players in the automotive arena. SKF are in development projects with external engineering companies in the area of transmission technologies. Another example is that in 2011 SKF entered into a project together with Volvo Car Corporation & Volvo Group, aimed at evaluating flywheels for mass production. The flywheel kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) can contribute to fuel savings as high as 20%, which in turn enables significant CO2 reductions. Today SKF delivers critical components to flywheel systems, which equips them with knowledge in how to industrialize this system.

Edward Holweg, Director Product and Systems Development, SKF Automotive, says, "SKF is always looking for the right expertise to combine efforts and knowledge for new solutions in order to support the industry requirements."
He continues, "To be successful you have to listen carefully to the demands of the customers. In knowing where they want to go, we can suggest solutions contributing to making their ideas enhancing the vehicles´ performance and reducing its negative impact on the environment. This focus is at the heart of SKF".

Product development
SKF develop products and deliver solutions that help vehicle manufacturers address several critical business issues, including:

  • Vehicle hybridization and electrification
  • Weight and friction reduction
  • Transmission technology and efficiency
  • Engine downsizing and boosting
  • Engine management

In these focus areas possible solutions have been identified. A few of these solutions include:

Integrating sensors for intelligent functions
SKF integrates sensors with bearings and seals to enable different functions in order to allow applications and systems to perform with the highest accuracy and reliability. These solutions contribute very well to energy efficiency.
A few years ago SKF launched solutions for hybrid vehicles (HEV) to enable the Stop-Start system to function, SKF Rotor Positioning Bearing and the SKF Commutation Sensor-Bearing Unit. The Stop-Start system contributes to reduction of CO2 and fuel up to 15% when driving in the city with many engine stops and starts.
A Stop-Start solution for two wheelers was introduced by SKF in 2011. Now SKF took one step further by offering the complete system, the SKF StopGo. By this solution fuel savings of 6-8 % is achievable.

Electric vehicles (EV) are increasing in numbers. The latest SKF developments in this area have been focused on improving the power density and energy efficiency of traction motors. Such products will contribute to increasing the EV mileage. In this area SKF recently announced a business partnership with the French company Bollore, who supply electric cars to a car rental program with Paris Autolib. This program was launched in December 2011. SKF offer different bearings that consist of material highly capable of resisting electric currents and other conditions that are needed to have a reliable, well performing electric car for as many miles as possible.
Different government and city initiatives move towards EVs being the solution to reduce CO2 emissions in city traffic. Paris Autolib wanted to give the citizens of Paris a simple and sustainable alternative to the standard public transportations of today. Other initiatives like this are sure to follow.

Optimizing powertrains
To optimize powertrains you must reduce friction and weight, offer compact solutions, add sensors for more intelligent control and be able to look into alternative technologies to improve performance in these applications. The environments these products need to perform in are often subjected to withstand a wide temperature range, different fluids, high speeds and extreme pressures.

For example, the increases of double clutch transmissions (DCT) have lead SKF to develop compact low weight products that have the ability to withstand the high temperature and loading conditions the DCT requires of its components. The SKF Double Clutch Bearing Set and the clutch support ACBB help to extend the lifetime of the transmission. The DCT is one of the main transmission systems that contribute to further CO2 reductions.
SKF's energy efficient driveline portfolio of bearings and seals has been developed to reduce friction and weight, and also to enable optimization of the transmission. A calculation example SKF have done show that reduction in CO2 by 8 grams/km, compared to standard products, is possible by replacing several standard bearings with energy efficient and smart compact integrated solutions. This is based on the normal European driving cycle and a mid-sized car. Developments are moving for further CO2 reduction possibilities.

With a growing demand for engine boosting technologies, ball bearings can replace the current plain bearings, providing an improvement in efficiency. The SKF Turbocharger Ball Bearing Unit is a robust, easy-to-mount unit that enables a fuel reduction of up to 2 % and CO2 emission reduction of up to 3%.
Reducing friction is a key area in engine efficiency, as well as solutions withstanding high temperature and high pressure with high performing long lasting abilities. There are many seals in the engine and one of the latest seals from SKF is the SKF Low Friction Engine Seal that provides a reduced friction by 55% compared to standard seals.

Calculation and simulation
To prove value and performance by calculation and simulation provides an important input when deciding upon a particular solution. The SKF Vehicle Environmental Performance Simulator has been designed to support SKF engineers in order to show customers the CO2 value the suggested solution will emit. By calculation and translating the friction and weight reduction into real figures, SKF can show real-life savings of CO2 emissions for a complete vehicle.

The road ahead is more challenging than ever. Developing innovative solutions for a sustainable world - to make a difference - is what SKF is all about. Caring is where it all starts. Knowledge and drive is what it takes. A cleaner world is the result to aim for.

SKF - The Power of Knowledge Engineering

SKF facts:
SKF, the Knowledge Engineering Company, partners with customers worldwide to provide technical solutions, maintenance and reliability services, engineering consultancy and training. With offices in more than 130 countries, and 15,000 distributor partners globally, SKF is a leading provider of bearings, seals, mechatronic and lubrication systems and services.  Annual sales in 2011 were SEK 66,216 million and the number of employees was 46,039.

Contact details
Edward Holweg
Director, Product and Systems Development
SKF Automotive
+46 31 337 21 44

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