Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC announced plans to manufacture air disc brakes in North America starting in the fourth quarter 2004. The announcement was made at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Kentucky.
Production will take place at an existing Bendix manufacturing facility in Frankfort, Kentucky, and total investment for tooling and related costs will be approximately $3 million. Bendix anticipates production volume for its ADB 225 and its newest design option, the Bendix ADB 22X air disc brake, to easily meet the anticipated increase in demand over the next few years. The company expects to steadily approach full plant capacity of 120,000 North American units by 2006. Additional production is available at company facilities worldwide. Bendix parent company Knorr-Bremse currently has production volumes exceeding one million air disc brakes annually.
“Bringing air disc brake production capability to North America demonstrates our commitment to this technology. We view this product as the future of braking in North America,” said Tom Wladyka, air disc brakes product line director, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems. “Manufacturing air disc brakes here allows us to meet anticipated demand and helps to further reduce the overall cost to the end user.”
Bendix, together with Knorr-Bremse, is the world's leading producer of air disc brakes, with 7 million units on the roads today in Europe and another 60,000 in North America, according to Bendix officials. Air disc brakes are proven to significantly reduce stopping distances for commercial vehicles, as well as virtually eliminate brake fade.
The Bendix ADB 22X is a further enhanced version of the current Bendix ADB 225 disc brake, designed for improved wheel fit with North American vehicles. It offers improved brake responsiveness with a passenger-car-like feel, and improved brake balance and wear.
“Today's air disc brake is a dramatic improvement over past generations,” said Ron Plantan, principal engineer for Bendix air disc brakes. “It has a larger rotor that absorbs more energy, achieves better ventilation, and is an overall more robust system than past versions. Our North American air disc brake design utilizes the proven Knorr-Bremse air disc brake technology, a dynamic and evolving product that has been leading the European commercial vehicle market and serving the needs of global customers since the early 1990s.”
R&D and engineering support for the North American facility will be handled primarily at the company's headquarters in Elyria, Ohio. The Bendix Frankfort plant, ISO14001 and QS9000 certified, has been a strong Franklin County, Kentucky, employer since 1967.