DBP are apparently simple products consisting of a block of friction material attached to a mild steel backplate, which connects the DBP to the callipers of the braking system. However, most braking systems need a different specification of backplate and the friction material is a complex mixture of ingredients; these include solid and liquid resins, solid and liquid rubbers, Kevlar, copper powder, steel wool, fillers and anti-oxidants. Braking performance for any vehicle is achieved by the use of different ingredients in varying quantities.Even a small company, such as Halton Materials, uses four different resins. Most formulations are used for several different DBP though a few are uniquely designed for a single product. Braking performance is not simply measured by stopping power, though this is crucial, but also in terms of squeal, judder and fade. Consistency of performance is very important in the marketplace and this is achieved primarily by consistency of mixing of the friction material ingredients.

The Technical Director, Mike Childwall, and his team are responsible for developing new DBP. For the aftermarket, the dimensions of the backplate and friction pad are taken from the equivalent OE component and then modified slightly to avoid patent infringement, though all mounting points must remain the same. A suitable friction material is formulated using an amalgam of science, heuristics and experience. Brake test rigs and a small dynamometer are available for development of new DBP.

Design of new press tooling is carried out by an engineer in the technical department though all tool manufacture is done by a local specialist firm that has worked with Halton since the company’s early days. All new ingredients and all materials from new suppliers are tested by the technical department For OE products, the dimensions of the DBP would be specified as would be the intended braking performance but the company would be expected to design and develop its own pad to meet, or ideally beat, the specification.Aftermarket DBP do not need the motorcycle or brake system manufacturers’ approval but Two-Stop’s position in the market relies on a quality image built up over the last 20 years. The threat of legal action in the event of product failure also ensures that product quality, both in design and manufacture is taken very seriously by the company. In addition to SPC controls on the factory floor, samples of finished DBP are tested on the rigs and dynamometer in technical department. The Business ProcessCustomer orders are received by the order processing clerks in sales department and inputted into the recently purchased AllianceMFG(r) small business MRPII system.

This system is intended to form the backbone of the company’s organisation and planning and has been installed with terminals in all major departments. The MRPII system is updated at the end of each day and generates new manufacturing orders where needed, based on batch size and minimum stock level rules held by the system.These rules were devised by Rainford Singh, the Planning Controller, based on current operating practice and in agreement with the sales department.

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The system also calculates new material requirements and purchasing department can convert these requirements into purchase orders directly on-screen. However, the system is not web-enabled and purchase orders are posted or faxed to suppliers, usually as confirmation of a telephone order. Frank Knowsley, the Senior Buyer, does not consider the lack of web capability a problem:”It is a step too far, not only for us but for most of our suppliers who are also small companies. I would much rather deal with a person than a machine. ” Nearly all their suppliers are UK based though some specialist ingredients are sourced overseas; safety stocks are held of any material where delivery lead time is more than one week.

Fine-blanked backplates are sourced from two UK suppliers that Halton Materials have used for many years. Though very reliable in terms of quality and delivery, the backplate suppliers’ minimum order quantity is 1,000, much larger than the normal production batch size of 300.As a small company, Halton Materials has had little success in persuading suppliers to deliver Just-In-Time.

Raw material and finished product stock records are held by the computer system and all stock movements into and out of the factory are recorded. WIP records are available as in-process works orders, though the level of progress of a current works order is not recorded. No use is made, as yet, of the capacity planning features of the MRPII system.

All transactions are copied each evening into the Sage(r) accounting package to update financial ledgers and payroll information.