The Swedish company Haldex develops and manufactures products that enhance safety, environment and vehicle dynamics for vehicles. “In practice, we talk about brake systems for trucks, buses and trailers. The automotive industry is under intense pressure to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions,” says Per-Erik Kronqvist, global Research and Development Manager at Haldex.
“The brakes we manufacture consist of iron and other metals, and a single unit often weighs around 35-40 kg. On a truck with a trailer, there may be 16 such brakes, which means that we supply components that have a significant effect on vehicle weight,” continues Kronqvist.
“We are mindful of environmental regulations in the Haldex Group’s markets and the same applies to our customers. The automotive industry has a strong focus on fuel efficiency, and Haldex can compete with brake systems that have lower weight. A lighter vehicle uses less fuel per ton of transported cargo, which is advantageous from an economic perspective,” says Kronqvist
In 2011, Haldex began to deliver a new generation of disc brakes that are lighter than their predecessors. The disc brake ModulT is 10 percent lighter than competing disc brakes enabling a higher payload per vehicle. Fuel consumption and fuel costs per transported ton helps to reduce overall costs.
The design is crucial
“For us the challenge was to design a disc brake with the same high standards of safety, and strength as before. We focused on the biggest and heaviest cast parts first, such as the brake calipers, but afterwards, we looked for ways to lose weight in each part of the braking system,” says Kronqvist.
“Of course you can look for new materials, such as aluminium, but then there will be higher costs and risks of fatigue. We chose instead to use the design element as the key to weight loss. The goal was to reduce the weight by 10 percent – that is a few kilograms per brake – and after having redesigned the brake caliper times, we were on the right track, “says Kronqvist.
“There are parts of the caliper in ModulT that got a whole new form to decrease weight by nearly 10 percent. Given that we produce millions of components for brakes per year, a few kilos less iron here and there is positive for the company’s finances. One can definitely say that we will generate environmental benefits in the entire chain from raw material to finished product. Haldex also sees significant competitive advantages to offer these types of products, “adds Kronqvist.
Each component has a significance
Lesjöfors AB, part of the Beijer Alma group, developed a brake spring to the ModulT. The previous spring solution was not considered as optimal and Lesjöfors’ development engineers were able to improve the spring performance. The end result was made of stainless steel that required no cure or treatment, which is good both from a health and environmental standpoint. The spring’s dimensions were reduced from 1.8 mm to 1 mm. with a new shape. Another positive feature is that it has 50 percent longer life than the old spring that was made of carbon steel.
Access to high-performance design technology
“In order to speed up the design and redesign of our products, we now have access to the most advanced design software. The design of ModultT required more than 40 simulations, but now we expect to be able to do the same with less than a handful of design elements. We also work with life cycle analysis to better understand the impact of new designs on the environment – and certainly there will be environmental improvements. We manufacture for example, about 5 million automatic brake adjusters per year and have now managed to pick 300 grams per product. There will be 1,500 tons less iron per year that we have to buy and manage. For the owner of the vehicle, there is less fuel consumption as a result, “says Kronqvist.
The article was published in September 2013