Ballarat brakes manufacturer opens $3.5m advanced moulding press

Australian-owned brake parts manufacturer Bendix is building a $3.5 million moulding press in Ballarat to cater for growing export demand.

[Image, right: The new Bendix moulding press.]

The new moulding press is part of an $8.8 million upgrade of Bendix’s existing facilities.

The advanced press, which is fully automatic, will reportedly be capable of handling various friction material compounds, as well as automatically weighing, apportioning and compressing material to metal backing plates.

The press will utilise hot pressing and curing processes with 16 pressing and ventilating cycles.

Press and ventilating cycles, as well as temperature divergences, will be controlled by microprocessors which automatically calculate and control the required cycle time, says the company. 

FMP Group, which is Bendix’s holding company, expects the production capacity and efficiency of the new press will increase output dramatically, and assist in advancing leading edge brake technology.

The automotive components-maker received a $2 million grant from the State Government’s Industry Transition Fund (ITF) for the upgrade.

FMP Group (Australia) general manager, Graeme Dixon, says the new press – from manufacturer IAG Industrie Automatisierungsgesllschaft M.B.H of Austria – delivers “a new era in technology”, allowing the manufacturer to secure its future as Australia and the Asia Pacific region’s “leading brake component manufacturer.”

“This high-tech press coupled with investments in other advanced equipment totalling $8.8 million is the largest made in this business in the last decade and demonstrates our commitment to our shareholders, our employees and to Australian manufacturing,” Dixon said.

The $8.8 million commitment to Australian brake components manufacturing is good news for the industry, following the recent demise of local manufacturer APV Automotive Components, which entered receivership in April after a planned restructure was blocked by workers and the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU).

Bendix claims to be Australia’s largest automotive friction material manufacturer. The company is a joint-venture between Honeywell International of the U.S.A, and Pacifica, a Melbourne company  that manufactures brake callipers, parking brakes, and brake components, and is partly owned by Bosh. 

The Ballarat manufacturing plant currently employs more than 250 workers, according to its website, and manufactures a range of disc brake pads for passenger and commercial vehicles, along with industrial applications.

Bendix runs two smaller manufacturing facilities in Malaysia and Thailand, and reportedly exports its technology to over 40 countries.