Ground support equipment has a wide range of applications, calling for an equally comprehensive and diverse set of power solutions tailored to meet each machine’s requirements as well as environmental regulations. Drawing on decades of experience in engine technology for a range of industrial applications, Cummins Engines is offering a range of fuel-saving, low-emissions solutions for optimal performance in the demanding environment of today’s airports.

Customers may recognise the brand from big rig trucks in the US, but Cummins powers more than meets the eye. Cummins is a global company with 90 years of engine technology experience, operating in industries as diverse as automotive buses and trucks, rail, oil & gas, defence, mining and construction – demanding environments that have provided solid testing grounds for the company’s products.

The ground support market’s needs fit well with the Cummins product offering, particularly for equipment that meets low emissions requirements in the 75-751hp (56-560kW) power category. The company’s line-up of certified engines for ground support applications has an active global supply base and support network. Included in this line is the four-cylinder QSF3.8 targeted towards compact ground equipment, and the QSL9, ideal for aircraft tugs.

Meeting the challenges

The key challenge is managing optimal power solutions for such a diverse range of applications that operate within the same space. For example, in the course of walking through the airport to catch a flight, a passenger would be able to observe at least three different applications, each demanding something different from the engine. From the towbarless aircraft tractor maneuvering the plane into position, to the ground power unit supplying electricity to the aircraft, to the bus transporting passengers from one terminal to another, ground support equipment has a range of power demands in one airfield alone. Cummins is committed to offering unique products and a tailored approach to finding solutions for each individual customer.

Airside innovations

Cummins aims to ensure that each product benefits from the latest technology advancements while still adhering to relevant emissions regulations. The company is always working with customers on innovative new products, for example, the Kalmar Motors TBL800 hybrid towbarless aircraft tractor, which was first to market and launched last year. This high-tech diesel-electric hybrid tractor provides an alternative power solution for the industry. The vehicle uses a QSB6.7 stage IV engine rated at 260hp (193kW) to charge its batteries when needed and is the first ever hybrid tractor on the market designed to handle wide-body aircrafts such as the A380.

Additionally, Cummins announced the first conventional bus stop-start technology in October last year. Cummins stop-start was developed with the aim of providing proven savings with a competitive payback period. It is different from the stop-start technology in electric and hybrid vehicles as it uses the conventional starter/flywheel system, re-engineered to deliver savings without significant operator investment or negative impacts on reliability.

Engine software has been upgraded to manage the system and provide flexible architecture, enabling a customisable user experience. Furthermore, the ability to automatically power down the engine when stationary encourages zero emissions at key times when passengers are embarking or disembarking.

Emissions regulations

Since the release of Euro 6 on-board diagnostic ‘C’ emissions regulations for 2017, applicable to European buses, Cummins has gone the extra mile to tailor its engines for this emissions leap, re-tuning engine calibrations using real-world data, allowing some customers to realise 4-6% fuel saving.

Vehicle acceleration management from Cummins can be used to limit the maximum allowable acceleration rate of the vehicle without the driver noticing, saving 1-8% of fuel. The user-selectable fuel economy feature runs the engine on set torque curves and provides 15% fuel saving, mainly for manual transmissions. As a result of extensive research and development, new calibrations for these updated engine models have increased power and torque.

Solutions for the future

Looking ahead to future technologies, the Cummins single module after-treatment used for the 2019 stage V engine product range (F3.8, B4.5, B6.7 and L9) combines DPF, SCR and urea-dosing in one unit, providing up to a 50% reduction in envelope size and a 30% reduction in weight compared to stage IV exhaust after-treatment.

These latest product advances have opened up opportunities for engine downsizing where a smaller-capacity engine may be suitable for the application. Benefits of downsizing can be that the engine is lighter, cheaper and generally has a smaller engine footprint, making installation easier.