“We have made a lot of modifications to improve longevity and the ease of operation, using what we have learned over the years to correct the problems that these systems sometimes encountered while operating,” said Ben Heater, engineering product manager for Hilliard. “The Hilliard engineers that developed these braking systems are the same engineers that spent years servicing them in the field.”

Since the early 1980s, Hilliard has been distributing brakes for Twiflex Ltd. and now the company is designing and manufacturing its own brand of brakes, explained Mark Rose, marketing manager for Hilliard. “In 2007, Hilliard started to consider new designs and improvements for brakes that no other manufacturer offers,” Rose said. “We thoroughly tested these units during the past several years and we are preparing to introduce them to the market in September.”

“We have performed 200% loading testing on our brakes,” Heater said. “We’re pushing a million cycles at 100% of their maximum force or more on these brakes, and we know the failure points and how long these brakes will physically operate.”

Because of the harsh environment and extremely high loads, most mines push their braking systems to their limits. Eventually the seals begin to leak, and then the brakes fail. “We want to eliminate these catastrophic failures,” Kallenborn said. “We have implemented several modifications to improve maintenance. These new systems are interchangeable with the old systems. The mounting configurations and the footprint are the same. The arm kits replace the ‘left’ and ‘right’ arms with one standardized arm. The changeover can be implemented quickly.” And, quicker repairs mean less downtime for maintenance, he explained.

The product development and testing process took time, but Hilliard is confident these new systems will appeal to mining operations. “The most exciting aspect of this is that we are now able to control our own fate with these brakes,” Heater said. “We know how these brakes are made and what applications they can handle. We are standing behind ‘our own’ product.” Hilliard said it has invested in its manufacturing capacity in order to reduce lead time and it can custom design a braking system for any application the mining industry needs.