Meritor Inc., the producer of drivetrain systems and other components for commercial vehicles, has a $16-million plan to update its European brake manufacturing operation in Cwmbran, Wales, its global center for disc brakes. It produces air disc brakes for both tractors and trailers.

The new improvements follow a $42-million program announced two years ago to expand production of Meritor’s ELSA air-disc brakes and S-Cam drum brakes, and to begin developing new braking products. They are intended to establish manufacturing capability for new braking products that combine reduced weight with higher torque, and cover a broader product range.

Meritor also said it plans to improve the plant’s operating cost, and quality and safety standards.

The previous investment program helped to expand Meritor’s ELSA air disc brake and S-Cam brake drum lines, and to develop new braking technologies. The latter includes lighter ELSA air disc brakes that achieve longer service life and better performance – with nominal torque ratings up to 30 kNm. Meritor said its extended family of brakes broadens its market coverage, with more optimized products.

Specifically, the earlier investment included vehicle and lab performance testing equipment. Meritor said its validation system improvements included a new noise, vibration and harshness and thermal imaging dynamometer capable of testing complete corner modules, including axles, suspensions and wheel-ends.

Meritor also said it installed a new three-axis vibration rig, to analyze effects of vibration more accurately.  

Recently, the company began an “extensive modernization” of the Welsh plant to improve its production efficiency and to make it more environmentally friendly. Investments have been made to improve quality and throughput (“zero parts per million”) and a new machining and assembly operation was installed to reduce costs and increase worker safety.

"We are continuing to strengthen our global brake business," stated Global Brakes vice president Joe Plomin. "With the expected growth around the world for disc brake technology, we are increasing our investment to ensure we can meet the needs of our customers."