A brand new name in the motor industry but one with an impressive and considerable manufacturing history spanning over 80 years.

The original company began trading as the Lockheed Hydraulic Braking Company, and went on to gain an enviable reputation in the motor industry as the OE braking component manufacturer for many famous brands and makes of car. These included the Morris Minor, the BMC Mini, Austin Healey, Aston Martin, Ford, Rootes Group, Alvis and Jaguar to name but a few. The company was later renamed as AP Lockheed. In 1999 further developments took place enabling AP Hydraulics to be created by separating OE manufacturing from the factored aftermarket distribution business. Whilst AP Hydraulics concentrated on OE manufacturing, the Lockheed brand remained with the aftermarket business. The latest development has taken place in September 2004 with the launch of AP Braking. The new company has been totally restructured and has been relocated within the Leamington UK site. The revised infrastructure and organization is now completely autonomous.

With future development in mind, significant new investments have been made in the latest state of the art CNC machining facilities. As a result of this, AP Braking has already attracted a number of new and important clients. AP Braking's market is clearly targeted at clients requiring low to medium volumes (1,000 - 60,000 units per annum) where application engineering is required. The products and service offered by AP Braking will be of particular interest to those customers who do not have in-house resource and expertise in brake design and development. The structure of the company works by utilizing lean practices and involved teamwork. This ensures a manufacturing ability which can deliver not only higher volumes, but also lower volumes at a competitive price, whilst at the same time as providing a much higher level of service than that offered by their major competitors.

The Product Range

AP Braking has a focused product range, which falls into five main areas. These are:

Opposed Piston Calipers. These are available in 2, 4, and 6 piston versions and can be manufactured in both alloy and iron. Opposed Piston Calipers are an important growth area, and AP Braking's market in this area is on course to double in the period between 2004 and 2008. The advantages of the design over sliding calipers are: increased mechanical stiffness; reduced weight; lower judder; less drag. The design is compact, and, as the caliper is mechanically efficient, there is no need to add extra material to reduce flexing. This apart from the weight benefits also allows for the fitment of larger diameter discs. This in turn makes them ideal for performance applications; the designs are aesthetically pleasing and ideal for the open designs of alloy wheel fitted to many sports and performance cars. Opposed Piston Calipers are also ideal for 4x4 and off road applications and much development has been carried out in this area. AP Braking has created a number of innovative design features on their opposed piston designs. Most significant are those relating to the pad retention including the curved edge pad backplates which allow the pad to rotate during application thus cleaning the pad/abutment area and eliminating sticking and pad clunk. These features combine to make the AP Braking product range unique in the industry.

Brake Hoses are another major area for AP Braking. All hoses are application engineered and all configurations can be produced ranging from the straightforward through to very complex designs. New designs can be produced in a very short time period; recently prototype parts were with the client within 24 hours of being commissioned.

Drum Brakes are still used on numerous vehicles including cars and commercial applications. AP Braking Drum Brakes are engineered for specific applications in both duo servo and L/T configurations. The drum brakes division is set up specifically for low to medium volumes.

Brake Actuation is currently the company's largest area and is also enjoying large growth. AP Braking produces a wide range of all products including master cylinders, servos and valves. Using proven technology prototype components can also be produced in a very short time period.

Clutch Actuation components also benefit from proven technology and specialist vehicle applications can be catered for in this area. AP Braking clutch actuation components are ideal for heavy-duty applications and full hydraulic systems can be produced.

Quality is of paramount importance to AP Braking and is rigorously applied to all the above product ranges. Every single item from flexible brake hoses through to HGV master cylinder units is comprehensively tested prior to leaving the factory. Additionally a number of products from every production batch are destruction tested to ensure that the required safety standards are not only met but also significantly exceeded. The company has achieved Ford Q1, TS16949 and ISO 14001 quality certifications.

The Heritage Range

Although forward looking and innovative, AP Braking also manages to help keep older classic vehicles on the road. The company's Heritage Range produces both braking and clutch components from the original tooling for a large number of popular classics. The ability to produce small batches plays an important part in this area, and the range will be expanded as the company moves forward.

Design and Development

AP Braking has a full design and development division to create individual designs and bespoke solutions for individual applications. Designs are individually tailored to the application regardless of volume. Experienced engineers work using 3D CAD programmes including Catia, Pro/Engineer and SolidWorks. All new products are put through an extensive development programme in a comprehensively equipped laboratory using simulation rigs. Vehicle testing is carried out at MIRA and LTC, and there is a fitting centre exclusively for this purpose on site at the AP factory. The AP laboratory services have recently become available for sub contract testing.

The Customer Base

AP Braking provides braking solutions to major motoring manufacturers and smaller specialist applications alike. The customer base is varied and covers many sectors of the automotive industry including Sports, 4x4, Light Commercial, Material Handling, Electric, Commercial and Bus, and Public Service Vehicles. With an already very impressive client base and more developments in the pipeline AP Braking is aiming to be the first choice for brake supply to the medium and niche volume vehicle manufacturers world-wide.

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Friday 22nd October 2004 14:00 PM