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By Jim Kerr

Technology in the automotive industry shows no signs of slowing down. A report on the automotive industry by CARS (Canadian Automotive Repair and Service) states that technicians will have to work with 95 distinct new technologies on automobiles in the next three to five years. To work on these new technologies accurately and effectively, technicians need to be always learning something new, and that is an opportunity Ford of Canada provided for 50 automotive students from the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology (SIAST) in Saskatoon during the introduction of the 2011 SuperDuty pickups.

The student’s day started with a trip to the Canadian Western Agribition in Regina, Saskatchewan. You may have not heard of Agribition, but it is Canada’s premier international livestock show and marketplace that attracts entrants and spectators from across North America. With close to 4,000 livestock, acres of agricultural equipment and everything you can imagine in crafts, produce and cooked foods, the show was a natural place for Ford to introduce the SuperDuty. There is one thing that almost all the people at the show have in common: they either haul or tow big loads, and the Ford SuperDuty is built to handle the task.

After a short presentation, the covers were pulled from the shiny F350 trucks and the students climbed into and under the new trucks to check them out. The SuperDuty incorporates several new technologies and Peter Frantzeskakis, Ford’s SuperDuty vehicle engineering manager and Adam Gryglak, Ford lead diesel engineer spent time with the students at the Ford display and during lunch discussing features of the new truck and the technology behind it.

Two new engines, the 6.2-litre gas engine and the 6.7-litre diesel engine were just a couple of the topics discussed as students dug deeper into how these vehicles work.

A complete chassis with the 6.7-litre diesel powertrain and without a body made it much easier to look over some of the new mechanical technologies. This engine was completely designed by Ford, incorporating their past diesel experience into a new style of engine. Unlike common engines, the new V8 diesel has its exhaust ports on the inside of the cylinder heads, facing the engine valley area. The exhaust feeds directly into a turbocharger, so passages are short and the exhaust gases are hot, enabling the turbocharger to work more efficiently. It also cleans up the engine compartment, because the exhaust system is simplified. The gases flow from the exhaust ports into the turbo and out one large exhaust pipe down the back of the engine and into the converters and muffler.

With the exhaust on the inside of the engine, the air intake had to move, so now the compressor side of the turbocharger pumps the air through the intercooler and then through passages in the valve covers and through the tops of the cylinder heads. Compact, neat and it looks easy to service.

Another industry-first feature is a turbocharger that uses two compressor wheels on a common shaft. This design is more compact than a dual turbocharger and uses variable vane technology to provide strong boost throughout the engine operating range.

While Gryglak talked to the students about the 29,000 PSI fuel pressure system and new six-speed automatic transmission with full time power takeoff capabilities, Frantzeskakis explained some of the electronic features throughout the truck. Electronics not only provide entertainment and comfort but are also capable of providing information for work tasks and even monitoring of tools through radio tag identification technology. The trucks are not only more powerful, they are smarter too.

The 2011 Ford SuperDuty trucks won’t be on the road for a couple of months, but then neither will the new technicians that looked it over carefully. When their 36-week course of study is complete, they will enter the workforce as apprentice technicians and spend the next four years progressively working on more challenging vehicle repairs. Thanks to Ford, they have had a preview of the future – the technology of vehicles they will be maintaining. It’s events such as this that spark imaginations and boost careers: future technicians learning to keep our future vehicles working smoothly and efficiently.

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