A smooth braking system roll out

Hilliard Corporation tells Australian Mining how it is bringing its appetite for quality performance that exceeds expectations from the northern hemisphere to Australia.

Confidence and years of experience have taken Hilliard’s capability to various parts of the world.

Shooting out from its birth place in New York, Hilliard’s custom-engineered offerings have now trekked Oman, Pakistan, China, Cambodia, Italy, Venezuela, Brazil, Indonesia, Belgium, Scotland, the United Kingdom and the majority of the United States.

Hilliard revolutionised the machine tool industry in 1905, and has since grown into a special-applications engineering/manufacturing company that offers a broad line of industrial motion control solutions for our customers.

Since the transition from distributor to manufacturer of their own brake line, Hilliard has been able to extend their expertise globally.

Hilliard’s regional sales manager Rick Kallenborn, recalling the company’s old days as a distributor for other manufacturers, says, “The problem with being a distributor for another brake manufacturer is you have no control over its quality, you have no control over where you want to go in the industry, and you have no control over how you can help the industry.

Company marketing operations manager Mark Rose who, with Kallenborn, journeyed with the business through this transition period, explains, “In 1986 we added a distribution line of industrial brakes to our product offerings.

“However, we were restricted to sell in North America only. But when we started manufacturing our own line of brakes, the globe opened up many different opportunities for us.

“This shift signifies our wanting to be in control of our own fate, work with the customer and be able to manufacture products that we know is quality versus the quality in buying and reselling.”

An inventory of pros

Hilliard designed what it wanted, listened to the people in the industry and found out what the market and what clients really needed.

Changes and adjustments were incorporated in both its caliper- and modular-style brakes, and ultimately, the transition has allowed the company to develop very customer-friendly brakes.

Kallenborn remembers finding an easier way to remove brake pads. Where the task had previously required operators to purchase an additional part, Hilliard builds the part right in to its brakes so users no longer need to remove the brake from service. This has effectively lessened the amount of inventory needed to be kept while slashing the costs associated with it.

“Specific applications determine what spare parts should ideally be kept in stock. But with the design changes made, the costs associated with replacement parts are significantly lower than a complete brake system,” Kallenborn says.

“If it’s a spring-applied brake, you just keep one spring modular and pads, and that’s all you’re going to need for replacement parts. The same goes for our caliper style brakes – you may keep only one thruster and pads. The thruster is just there in case you somehow damage it.”

Even so, Hilliard-manufactured thrusters are readily available for an easy maintenance and repair on-site, resulting in the ease of conducting a minor brake maintenance or brake replacement while reducing downtime.

When asked about the reason why Hilliard took its time to launch its braking system – i.e. nine years later – Kallenborn says the company was taking its brakes under extreme testing conditions since their development.

The brakes were put under a 200 per cent load testing, more than they would ever experience, more than their normal operation. By pushing a million cycles at 100 per cent of their maximum force or more on these brakes – effectively taking them to failure – Hilliard has found the brakes’ failure points and how much they could withstand.

Knowing the harsh environment and extremely high loads that most mines operate under, Hilliard recognises that brake seals will begin to leak and results in brakes fail. So the company wants to remove the possibility of catastrophic failures.

Further, Hilliard offers a full line of fail-safe spring-applied brakes, delivering considerable safety gains compared to drag-applied brakes to users.

And with smaller parts, Hilliard’s brakes apply much more pressure – they have been designed to allow for less mechanical deflection of the components, generating more force than users would normally anticipate.

“Our brakes are truly unique to the marketplace. Others don’t offer a lot of the features we do,” Rose, echoing the company’s certainty in its robust engineering and manufacturing strengths, concludes.