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Stopping the world


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Kendrion develops, manufactures and markets high-quality electromagnetic systems and components for industrial and automotive applications. For over a century, it has been engineering precision parts for the world’s leading innovators in passenger cars, commercial vehicles and industrial applications.

Rooted in Germany and headquartered in the Netherlands, its expertise extends across Europe to the Americas and Asia. The brake expert, located in southern Germany, focuses on the business of stopping and holding electrically driven applications. In the niche segment of permanent magnet brakes, it is the global market leader. “We are a very competent partner with extraordinary know-how, that operates all over the world,” says Ralf Wieland, Managing Director for the Industrial Drive Systems business unit. He has been with Kendrion for 14 years.

The functional aspects of brakes are needed in all kinds of applications, for example in elevators, machines, automation technology and robotics. “We keep our finger on the pulse of the time and observe megatrends,” Mr. Wieland says. “For instance, with urbanization progressing, there will be a greater need for things like elevators and means of conveyance. There’s also a future in robotics and automation because of the growth of Industry 4.0.”

Other applications include cranes, conveyors, medical equipment, wind turbines – any place that requires a reliable hold or brake. Despite the myriad uses, Kendrion brakes are applied mainly in robotics and automation. “The brakes are used in the individual drives in the robots,” Mr. Wieland explains. “Industrial robots require brakes for every joint basically as a safety function. They guarantee that the robots stop when they should, regardless of size and payload. I find these topics really exciting and interesting.”

With the world becoming increasingly electrified, there will be a growing need in line with stronger use of electric motors. “Electric motors are efficient and clean, and they’re being used more and more with conveyance systems. All of those applications require our brakes to secure safety,” Mr. Wieland says. “We also see miniaturization in the future – everything is getting smaller. The use of alternative materials is also a big issue, as well as the improved performance.”

What also becomes more and more important is the batch size. “We’re tailoring more solutions according to our customers’ needs. Whether it’s a permanent magnet brake or a spring applied brake – based on our broad product portfolio we can design customer-specific solutions for special requirements,” the Managing Director adds. “We usually approach customers and offer our services, to understand their needs and those of the market and of course to develop the right products. That’s why product management plays such an important role for us. We have to know about trends, and we have to be close to customers.”

Kendrion invests systematically in new developments. For instance, it offers smart systems that give feedback on maintenance and repair via sensitive sensors in elevator brakes. “Agile processes are important, too to fulfill our customers’ needs. We take small steps and constantly check in with the customer to make sure we’re on the right path. Agility is a priority for us and will remain in focus in the future,” Mr. Wieland concludes.