Knorr-Bremse SA’s 9 000m² factory in Spartan, Kempton Park is described as a state-of-the-art equipped manufacturing plant. When you visit the plant, you realise this is not an overstatement. From the spotless floors to the many DMG MORI and Okuma machines – 20 CNC machines in total – that occupy these floors, you can see that complacency and poor quality are not part of the company’s culture. When you are manufacturing components and products for the ultra-competitive rail industry – both passenger and freight trains – it is not on your wish list to be IRIS certified it is a must. The globally recognised standard is one that companies supplying to the railway sector have to comply with, to encourage safety and standardisation in the industry.
The factory in South Africa is the only brake manufacturing company on the continent to have been awarded with this highly-regarded certificate.
Pioneers in braking technology
Knorr-Bremse was established in Germany back in 1905 and over the years it has expanded across the globe to become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles.
Knorr-Bremse was established in Germany back in 1905 and over the years it has expanded across the globe to become one of the world’s leading manufacturers of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles
Knorr-Bremse’s South African subsidiary was established in 1969 and first production at its factory in Johannesburg started in 1971, providing a unique local manufacturing option for the domestic market.
Today the South African business has two more offices in Cape Town and Durban, over 200 employees and the capability to spearhead new projects as well as offer reliable maintenance for its customers in the rail and commercial vehicle industry in Africa and beyond.
Knorr-Bremse’s other lines of business in the rail vehicle systems outside of braking components, include: Automatic, electro-pneumatic or electric door systems, air conditioning systems, control components and windscreen wiper systems, as well as platform screen doors. In the commercial vehicle systems sector, the product range includes complete braking systems with driver assistance systems, as well as torsional vibration dampers and powertrain-related solutions such as the Pneumatic Booster System (PBS) and transmission control system for enhanced energy efficiency and fuel economy.
Knorr-Bremse have invested in a new Victor Vturn A20SCV horizontal turning lathe that is equipped with live tooling, a sub-spindle and a part catcher amongst other extras. The machine has an X-axis travel of 135mm + 115mm and a Z-axis travel of 600mm. The bar capacity is 52mm
One of the brand’s most competitive edges is its immense longevity in the business, and with over 100 years to perfect its products, Knorr-Bremse has garnered an enviable reputation for pioneering and continuing to lead the development, production, marketing and servicing of state-of-the-art braking systems.
However, the company has another strategic advantage to international players looking to grab a piece of Africa’s growing economic pie – it has 50 years of local experience working in South Africa’s evolving landscape.
“In the last decade South Africa has been good to Knorr-Bremse. Canadian manufacturer Bombardier won the contract and placed its Electrostar passenger trains, which were doing very well in the UK, on Gautrain. Knorr-Bremse was already supplying the brake systems, the door systems, and air supply systems for the Electrostars in the UK, and thus in South Africa the local company’s role was to provide support for warranty purposes as well as manufacture some of the components,” explained Machine Shop and Production Manager Ricky Govender.
“Through Bombardier this work has continued to keep us busy.”
Knorr-Bremse will be machining 20 different components in aluminium and brass on the new Victor Vturn A20SCV horizontal turning lathe
“We also secured the contract for the rail brake systems for the diesel locomotives Transnet was purchasing from General Electric and the company was awarded Transnet’s contract to supply the braking systems for the electric locomotives used on the Sishen-Saldanha iron ore line. The company has also won other Transnet contracts including the integration of vacuum brakes into the electro pneumatic brake system on diesel locomotives.”
“More recently we have been supplying braking systems and automatic door systems to Gibela to be used in the PRASA passenger rail upgrade.”
New Victor Vturn A20SCV horizontal turning lathe
“With all the machining that is necessary for the components that we manufacture for our products we also have to make sure that our machines are constantly upgraded. Not so long ago we installed two DMG MORI DMC 80H horizontal milling machines.”
“Now we have invested in a new Victor Vturn A20SCV horizontal turning lathe that is equipped with live tooling, a sub-spindle and a part catcher amongst other extras.”
“The machine has an X-axis travel of 135mm + 115mm and a Z-axis travel of 600mm. The bar capacity is 52mm.”
“We will be machining 20 different components in aluminium and brass on the machine.”
Diversification in machine shop
“Although we are not pigeon holed in the rail industry we are still looking to diversify even more from the commercial vehicle systems sector that we also service. Up until now Knorr-Bremse (South Africa) has concentrated on manufacturing its own products but we have taken a decision to open up the excess capacity on our machines to the wider spectrum of machining.”
Knorr-Bremse’s South African subsidiary was established in 1969 and first production at its factory in Johannesburg started in 1971
“We have a state-of-the-art facility with direct access to the latest technology emanating from head-office in Germany and all the other manufacturing facilities around the world and we are leaders in our field. We want to support and develop the South African manufacturing industry.”
For further details contact Knorr-Bremse on TEL: 011 961 7800 or visit www.knorr-bremse.co.za