LOUISVILLE, KY – WABCO has opened the doors to a new US $20-million facility in South Carolina that will for the first time give it a place to build air disc brakes in the U.S.
The 145,000-square-foot facility employs 230 people.
The manufacturing facility is 60% larger than a previous Charleston location that made air compressors, and will continue that work by producing single- and twin-cylinder models under a joint venture with Cummins, first established in 1998.
But it also has the capacity to produce about 200,000 air brake units per year, says Jon Morrison, president – Americas. In five years, he predicts the market for those products will be double what it is today, in part because of the rollout of active safety systems.
“It is manufacturing and distribution for North America,” he says of the new facility. “The air disc line, the machining and the assembly is brand new.” Disc brake housings and brackets will be machined on site.
“It really about getting the difference between drum and disc costs lower,” he said of the need for a domestic manufacturing presence. The next step will involve partnering with truck and trailer Original Equipment Manufacturers to optimize their wheel ends. “Up to this point, in many cases you are putting a disc brake on a drum brake setup,” he says.
Buyers need to be educated as well. To support that work, WABCO has also unveiled a showcase trailer that is now hitting the road with displays including air disc brakes and brake chambers. The first 15 stops are scheduled across the U.S. in April and May, although no Canadian dates are set yet.
“By localizing the production of air disc brakes in the region we demonstrate our commitment to advancing commercial vehicle safety and shaping the future of the transportation industry,” said Jacques Esculier, chairman and chief executive officer.
WABCO markets air disc brakes under the MAXXUS brand for heavy-duty trucks, and MAXX22T for trailers.