A start-up that will revolutionize the trucking industry
As a child, Leon Lauwers loved tinkering behind the lathe in his father’s shed. He was fascinated by engineering and his latest article for the MTS examines the limitations of his father’s Massey-Ferguson tractor transmission system. Even after Lauwers submitted the document, he remained concerned about the issue. There had to be a way to make it easier to turn the gear system on and off. When he sees an old rusty brake disc, he has a flash of inspiration. This inspiration ultimately led to the birth of Smesh BV.
Lauwers vividly remembers when he had that flash of inspiration. âI saw a rusty and ventilated brake disc. When you brake with this, you almost push the brake discs together and the blades smash. It took me a while, but from that intuition the idea as it is now put into practice was born. An operating system for a planetary gear system with one hundred percent efficiency.
” Smesh ‘is an acronym of “Smart and easy change”. Lauwers: “Gears may not be as sexy as electricity at the moment, but my invention is essential.”
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Battle between starting power, speed and efficiency
One hundred percent efficiency almost sounds too good to be true. Rino Both, Marketing Director at Smesh-E Axle, explains that the technology basically does nothing more than turn gears on when they’re needed and turn them off when they’re not. âAs soon as you switch to one-to-one, you no longer need the gears, whereas in a traditional gearbox, the gears always turn. You lose energy doing this. Smesh Gear disables the gears so that they no longer offer any resistance and the battery power can be used much more efficiently.
Lauwers explains why gears are also needed in electric vehicles: âVirtually all machines and vehicles operate at different speeds. Each engine, whether it is a thermal or electric engine, has an âidealâ speed range. This is where the engine is most powerful and efficient.
The inventor of Smesh likens a gear to a rotating lever which can transform a small force of rotation into a large force of rotation. âWhen a car starts, it needs the most power on the wheels. An electric motor is strong when it starts to move away, but not strong enough. Therefore, mechanical deceleration is necessary. The downside to this deceleration is that the top speed drops and the high efficiency range suffers even more from this deceleration. “
SmeshGear ensures that the two different areas of operation – start and speed – are each assigned a separate delay; switching between these makes a vehicle powerful and efficient. “Anywhere starting power and speed collide, i.e. wherever there is a wheel, you can apply our control system, for example to a transmission, in an electric bicycle or car. , or in a wind turbine. I don’t mean to say that I reinvented the wheel, but wherever there is a wheel, there can be a SmeshGear, âsmiles Lauwers.
Application in trucks
Smesh is focusing on the application of this technology in electric trucks with a number of companies in the Brainport area, including GTA de Someren. This partnership is called Smesh-E Axle.
Heavy electric trucks are almost non-existent. Yet their adoption can be accelerated with Smesh-E Axle. Lauwers: âWe are going to cut the energy consumption of a truck in half, which will double the range of an electric truck. In addition, our powertrain is so compact that it fits the engines and rear axle drivetrain. As a result, the truck has twice the installation space. For example, you can take up to 50% more batteries or hydrogen. This only increases the reach.
Both see the technology as a catalyst that gives electric driving an advantage for heavy haulage. âResearch by Interact Analysis, a research agency in England, shows that heavy transport [above seventeen tons, ed.] in Europe could go electric between 2030 and 2035. They estimate that our technology can accelerate this five-year process.
âWe are at the dawn of a new era.
The goal of Smesh-E Axle is to make an electric truck competitive – economically and technically – with a fossil fuel truck. âWe are at the dawn of a new era. The European Union has stipulated that industry must emit a net 55% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2030 compared to 1990. By 2050, CO2 emissions must be reduced to zero. More and more cities will close their centers to polluting trucks and there is also enormous pressure from consumers to drive more ecologically. It has to happen, âthe two said.
In order to move to the next stage of production, an independent test must take place so that the company can prove that the technology works. This test is due to be completed this year at the Greenmot automotive testing laboratory in France. âWe did our own tests. It can be seen that the pulling force of a truck equipped with SmeshGear is greater than that of a diesel truck. In fact, compared to today’s electric trucks, our pulling force is three times greater, âsays Both.
From a flash of inspiration to a company about to change the trucking industry; for Lauwers, it’s a childhood dream come true. âWe are now at the stage where we will prove in practice that our idea works. The other day we had a conversation with an innovation manager from a company that has 25,000 vehicles in circulation in Europe. He is interested in our candidacy. I never dreamed that I would have conversations like this.
“I never dreamed that I would have conversations like this.”
The Brainport ecosystem plays an important role for Smesh-E Axle. Both: âFinding a good product is one thing. Demonstrating how it works in practice is another. But turning it into a business is one more step. You don’t do it alone, we do it with businesses and knowledge institutions in the Brainport area. “
After the independent tests, the start-up wants to manufacture and sell axles for ten trucks so that transporters can test them in practice. Difficult, because customers want to try first and buy later. âSo it’s a chicken and egg story. Carriers only buy when the end product is there, but the end product is not there until it is purchased, âsays Lauwers. From an ecosystem perspective, it would help Smesh-E Axle if they received financial support. âExpert knowledge and partners who can help drive innovation forward are also welcome,â adds Both.
The start-up participated in the Mobility Lab, a Brainport Development program in which innovative start-ups are coached. Lauwers: âThis is how we came into contact with A. Jansen BV from Son, for example. They are active in the field of infrastructure, recycling and concrete and do so with a sustainable vision. We plan to look at the possibilities together – this gives A. Jansen BV some experience and for us it is an opportunity to prove Smesh-E Axle under difficult conditions on the pitch.
âWe are coming out of the phase that we are pioneering,â adds Both. âWe are going to have our technology professionally tested, so that we can prove that it works. Once that is done, we will suddenly become a real business. Mobility Lab supports us in this process.
You can read stories about other mobility pioneers here.