Textron's Collaboration with PCS and GM

Oct. 20, 2022

Since 2013, Textron GSE has worked with Powertrain Control Solutions (PCS) and General Motors (GM) to integrate GM technologies into products that meet the unique and rigorous requirements of the GSE industry.

That relationship has continued and ultimately resulted in the newly released TUG Endurance Baggage Tractor.

“Textron GSE is committed to sustainability and being a catalyst for its customers and the industry to achieve their sustainability initiatives. The TUG Endurance baggage tractor is the perfect example of designing a product that considers customer requirements for performance, productivity and safety on a global scale,” says Matt Chaffin, vice president and general manager at Textron GSE. “Emphasis was placed on building a product with technology specifically for ground support applications that could evolve as electrification becomes paramount in the future.”

According to Chaffin, the TUG Endurance was developed based on direct feedback from customers.

“Textron GSE explored various technologies and identified an opportunity to collaborate with two industry-leading companies: General Motors and PCS,” Chaffin says. “Together, GM and PCS have developed an integrated driveline, specifically designed for Textron GSE products that utilizes GM’s lithium-ion battery systems.

“The driveline will allow Textron GSE to leverage GM’s experience in electric propulsion solutions, honed over more than 25 years of developing a variety of electric vehicle systems and other zero-emissions innovations.”

Among its features, the TUG Endurance leverages high-capacity GM and PCS lithium technology, utilizing the J1772 connector for level 2 AC charging, as well as DC fast charging. The systems constantly monitors for ground faults, disconnected connectors or other potential hazards, and includes a manual safety disconnect for lock-out/tag-out procedures. In addition, the systems will incorporate innovative safety features introduced by PCS into the GSE industry, such as electronic transmission controls, and an electric parking brake, both of which communicates with the vehicle’s electric drivetrain and other onboard systems to enhance safety.

Additional features include a single chassis with the choice of a cab forward or cab aft driving position; an electronic parking brake that automatically engages if someone leaves the seat, or the tractor shifts into neutral; an electronic shifter and throttle to deliver ease of use with an automotive experience and enhanced safety; an automatic park brake application and release, which is programmed into the operation logic reducing operator error; and brake i-booster – an electric assist on brake activation to reduce the effort required, but in the event of a fault, the driver still has mechanical braking.

What’s more, the tractor offers the ability to integrate vehicle telematics for benefits such as swipe access, collision monitoring, fault monitoring, geofencing, etc. The TUG Endurance features autonomous ready control systems; a modular design; Bluetooth remote diagnostics; a multi-function display to communicate hours, fuel level or state of charge; a standard e-hitch; and standard LED headlights, stop/taillights, side repeaters and back up light. The vehicle is designed with drive by wire for increased operator comfort ; and it offers an interchangeable drivetrain that enables globally compliant gas and diesel models to be upgraded to lithium as infrastructures evolve.

One of the biggest challenges was designing a single product that met a wide variety of customer needs, according to Chaffin.

“The primary focus of our efforts on the TUG Endurance was around capturing high take-rate options and incorporating them into the standard design either as standard features or as plug-and-play add-ons,” he says. “This helps increase throughput in our factory and increases overall product quality and reliability.”

The TUG Endurance baggage is available in a lithium powertrain, which Chaffin says assists both customers and the industry in achieving sustainability objectives as they require no maintenance and offer zero tail pipe emissions.

The lithium TUG Endurance uses a J1772 connector for level 2 AC charging, and DC fast charging.

“This type of charging is prevalent in the automotive industry and can be found in ground support equipment such as buses, catering trucks and high lifts. Utilizing these charging platforms can help alleviate infrastructure constraints,” Chaffin says.

“Most customers are aware of the shift to high voltage systems and many of them are already pursuing that technology on their own,” he continues. “Customer feedback was supportive of the direction we chose for the TUG Endurance EV drivetrain and were complementary of the automotive level of safety and quality integration.”

According to Chaffin, Textron GSE is always looking for ways to enhance its product solutions.

“Collaborating with GM and PCS will enable us to explore additional opportunities to synergize and electrify products across our brands,” he concludes.

About the Author

Josh Smith | Editor