Mick Friar, Group Sales Director at European Braking Systems, speaks to CVW about the company’s offerings and its recent investment in a remanufacturing facility.
Q. Can you tell us a little more about EBS and your service offerings?
Mick Friar (MF): European Braking Systems is Europe’s leading independent wholesaler, manufacturer and distributor of air brake and vehicle control system components. EBS was founded in April 2000 in Manchester, with the intention to independently distribute and specialise in air brake systems and components.
Due to the rapid changes and new innovation in technology by the leading manufacturers, we invested in highly qualified and experienced technical and sales personnel, with an extensive range and depth of stock, to quickly become the largest distribution centre for Air Brake Components in Europe.
EBS now comprises two sites. The first is based around sales, administration and distribution, including a highly experienced and technically trained sales team, using software that is customer focused. The second features our quality control and production centres, which includes a new remanufacturing unit, product development teams and a training centre.
Q. What does your product range include?
MF: Our current product range comprises more than 15,000 air brake components for truck, trailer, bus, off highway and rail applications, including EBS own brand components and repair kits.
This is across 33 extended product ranges such as ABS & EBS, air dryers, brake chambers, brake discs and pads, calipers, compressors, diagnostic tools, power steering pumps, sensors, slack adjusters, steering and suspension products, accessories and more.
Q. We hear you have recently introduced a dedicated remanufacturing facility?
MF: Yes, for the last few years we have seen an increased demand from our customers for high quality remanufactured products, that are priced competitively and are ultra-reliable.
In order to cater for this demand we have consolidated our remanufacturing, quality assurance, engineering and R&D departments into a new 4,000m2 facility, beside our existing distribution facility in Trafford Park.
With ever rising fleet operator costs, the remanufactured product range offers an alternative option to the end user demanding a lower cost alternative to new components. At EBS, we believe lower cost should not mean having to compromise on quality or reliability. We have made a significant investment in new equipment, processes and testing equipment to ensure our remanufactured range greatly exceeds customer expectation.
With our new facility we now have the capacity to produce brake calipers to meet our future anticipated demand for many years, alongside offering high quality remanufactured compressors and valve assemblies.This new venture allows us to be more forward thinking with regards our manufacturing waste, our carbon footprint, and evolving EBS into a greener company for the benefit of the environment. We are focused on remanufacturing and recycling as much as possible, for example with initiatives in place to reduce the amount of chemicals, consumables and power that we use.
Q. With remanufactured brakes being a safety critical component, what kind of quality control processes do you have in place?
MF: At EBS we take the overall safety of our applications exceptionally seriously, not just for the driver, but also for the general public where heavy vehicles fitted with our products operate. When it comes to our range of remanufactured brake calipers, the technicians fitting the products can be assured that every component used has been thoroughly inspected, assembled and tested to meet or exceed OE design specifications.
We operate a six-step quality assurance inspection process, from disassembly of the old core, all the way to the final test leaving the production line. This helps us identify defects that may not be initially visible during old core assessment. Our strict inspection criteria and highly experienced staff will only then allow quality castings to enter the production process. We are also replacing over 80% of the internal caliper components with new, high quality components, regardless of the condition of the old parts. By doing this, we can be confident that not only will our calipers perform as expected every time, but they will also have a long service life on the vehicle.
Q. Has there been a focus on a particular brake component?
MF: As mentioned previously, we are incredibly proud of our new remanufactured brake caliper offering. To ensure quality, safety, and product reliability are paramount in our production process, we have devised some bespoke testing methods for each caliper type we remanufacture. This includes independent load cell testing of each caliper piston assembly, ensuring that piston extension and retraction is balanced, with the result being correct in-service performance.
During load cell testing, we also mount the individual caliper on an axle load tester. This allows us to be confident that the brake disc can run freely through the caliper assembly, again cutting down on the potential for both fitment and operational errors for the technician. Upon removal from this testing process, a force gauge reading is taken from the caliper lever arm and compared to our strict internal guidelines regarding lever application force.
By adopting these more scientific testing methods, we can be confident that our caliper offering is in the top tier of high quality remanufactured products available to the aftermarket.
Q. What technical and aftersales support can you offer workshops?
MF: EBS has over 400 distributors across the UK, with each having access to the full product portfolio available from us. Meanwhile, a dedicated technical department can assist in the identification of products, fault finding, diagnostics and everyday issues seen within the industry.
EBS also runs monthly air brake courses covering basic and advanced training on air brake systems, ABS and EBS systems, air suspension and diagnostics. We have highly skilled engineers that can visit on site should the need arise to support workshop staff.