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Company Reports - Chassis Brakes International (Australia) Pty. Ltd.  

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Chassis Brakes International (Australia) Pty. Ltd.

Chassis Brakes International: Driving the Australian Automotive Parts Industry

Emily Butcher

Lean processes and innovative designs drive Chassis Brakes International's world-class manufacturing capabilities
Chassis Brakes International: Driving the Australian Automotive Parts Industry

Established in 1927 as PBR (Paton’s Brake Replacements), acquired by Bosch in 2007, and more recently by KPS Partners Group, Chassis Brakes International (based in Drancy, France) has grown to become one of the world's largest manufacturers of automotive foundation brakes. With a focus on engineering design for manufacturing and lean manufacturing, CBI is able to develop and manufacture quality foundation brake components which are sold to customers worldwide.

CBI operates 15 worldwide manufacturing locations which are supported by 5 engineering, sales, and administration centres. The technical centre in East Bentleigh services manufacturing locations in Melbourne, Adelaideand Rayong, Thailand. “The East Bentleigh site is really the cornerstone of our culture and our history,” says Vice-President of Manufacturing Engineering and Projects, Mike Delacorn.

A Steadfast Commitment to Customers

“One of the strengths that CBI offers is its local design and development capabilities.” says Director of Sales and Marketing Kevin Bergman. CBI is able to offer its customers complete foundation brake system design.

As a vehicle evolves through its development cycle, customer’s requirements may change.  The CBI engineering team work together with customers to address key design criteria.  This activity is supported through:

·         NVH – advanced simulation and testing which provides a system level approach to NVH targets.

·         Prototype – Flexible and highly skilled prototyping capabilities.

·         Functional Testing – Dynamic, vibration, durability and environmental testing.

·         Performance Testing – Dynamometer testing of brake and suspension components.

·         Vehicle Testing – Proving ground facilities used for performance and durability vehicle testing.

·         CAE – design optimisation through full CAE/FEA capabilities and expertise.

CBI uses state-of-the-art lean manufacturing processes in the production of brake components for all local automotive OEMs.  The CBI manufacturing site in East Bentleigh has aluminium casting, machining, anodizing, plating and assembly capability.  CBI’s commitment to the highest level of quality is underpinned by its vertical integration which allows for quality control at every step of the manufacturing process. 

As a value stream managed manufacturing company, CBI is able to increase efficiency throughout production, leading to savings for its customers. “Fully understanding our value stream gives us the ability to control quality, minimize waste and inventory,” says Delacorn.

A Focus on Lean Principles

Utilising lean management principles, in place at CBI since the 1990 s, has allowed the company to operate at the highest level of efficiency throughout every stage of production.

“One of the things that separates us from our competitors is we have a company-wide focus on lean processes,” says Bergman. “At the end of the day, that gives us a competitive edge.”

Most recently, CBI was recognised with the prestigious Toyota Supply Chain Management Performance Excellence President Award for 2011. The award was given for CBI’s efforts in overcoming the effects of last year’s tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan.  Along with floods in Thailand, this has been a major challenge to CBI’s supply chain management.

“The ramifications of that are still ongoing because the gap in the supply chain was so large,” says Asia-Pacific Regional President, Graham Scull. “The reason for the recognition by Toyota was they appreciated firstly, the difficulty that we faced in those circumstances, and more importantly, the efforts that we had gone to which protected the supply to the customer.”

Chassis Brakes’ Committed Employees

One of the advantages of working with an industry expert is that it attracts highly skilled workers and provides them with ongoing development opportunities. CBI encourages long-term employment for its entire staff.  A number of CBI’s employees have been with the company for over 40 years. “I think the name – particularly the PBR history on the Bentleigh site – is very historical,” says Delacorn. “I think the heritage and the open communications keeps our employees here.”

As one of the only local manufacturers with in-house product and manufacturing engineering capabilities, Delacorn says, “New employees are attracted by the diversity of what you can learn in the engineering and manufacturing process. For a young engineer, it’s a great opportunity to understand full value stream manufacturing.”

Skilled and knowledgeable employees working to fill a variety of roles further enhance productivity in the company. “From my perspective, the reason we are so successful at being lean is because our people have the skills to go across a broad range of functions when required,” says Scull.

“We have people whose roles are broadly cross functional in nature.  For example, a product engineer may act in both highly technical and customer interface roles,” adds Delacorn. “The skill sets our employees develop are highly valued attributes within our company.”

The Future of Chassis Brakes

“I think Australia needs the automotive industry which in turn needs cornerstone suppliers,” says Delacorn. “Maintaining our manufacturing expertise is good for Australia and good for the region.  You can’t replicate 40 years of manufacturing skill overnight.  From a broader view, the Australian automotive industry’s relevance is reliant on there being a strong local manufacturing base.”

While continuing to grow in Australia, “We see great opportunities for growth in the automotive market in Thailand,” says Bergman. CBI plans to expand the Rayong facility up to a 15,000 square metre facility and “duplicate the benefits we’ve established at the Bentleigh site.”

Fueling sustainable expansion with the foundations provided by high quality services and products, CBI ensures it will remain a leader in the automotive industry for years to come.

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