German firm KNOTT has more than 75 years' experience of developing braking systems and is a reliable supplier to military vehicle manufacturers. Head of design Franz Schweiger and Richard Hamberger, technical sales, discuss customising its wares to suit clients' needs, from prototypes and small-scale demands to large-scale production.
KNOTT has several decades of experience in supplying braking systems for military vehicles. Have customers' requirements changed over the years?
Richard Hamberger: The main changes came after the 9/11 attacks when the war in Afghanistan began, and military vehicles were confronted with mines.Vehicles were poorly prepared for such attacks, so manufacturers focused more on protection and vehicles subsequently became heavier. Increased weight demanded stronger brakes with higher performance, which KNOTT was able to rapidly develop and produce. The hydraulic fixed-caliper 4×70 is one result of this development: it's the maximum brake size that can be installed within typical military (20in) rims.
Could you describe some of the factors to consider when designing braking systems specifically for military applications
Franz Schweiger: A major challenge is the long lifetime of military vehicles. When designing braking systems for military vehicles today, you must consider that it may still be in service in 2050, and choose proven, reliable designs that are adaptable for future refurbishment. Military brakes must also withstand harsh environmental conditions like temperature extremes, as well as terrain issues like mud, sand and water.
How does KNOTT's close relationship with the German army guide its product development?
RH: KNOTT endeavours to develop close relationships not only with vehicle manufacturers but also with end customers. This provides it with maximum information to manufacture the best products. The experience of the end user is crucial, helping the company understand the real problems and, therefore, improve its products. KNOTT therefore seeks any opportunity to communicate directly with the military. It establishes contacts, and forges relationships, during exhibitions, in military forums, and discussions with military maintenance shops. It even does this amid defence exercises, in which KNOTT members participate.
What range of technologies can KNOTT offer its customers?
FS: KNOTT offers military customers the complete range of friction, drum, disc and wet multidisc brakes. It also have a range of electro-magnetic brakes. The firm can supply components for the foundation brake, such as drums, discs, actuation cylinders (hydraulic, pneumatic or air-over-hydraulic converters), SAHR-cylinders and cables. In certain cases, it offers the complete braking system.
KNOTT has such a strong presence in the European military vehicle market. What drives this solid performance?
RH: KNOTT's European market position stems mainly from the fact that it can offer tailor-made solutions, even in low quantities. All manufacturers of military vehicles have special demands for their brake systems, such as weight reduction, special fluids and high pressure. During the prototype stage, it can be challenging for manufacturers to find suitable products on the market. Here KNOTT enters the game - it can produce prototype brakes of good quality, even in small quantities.
What further innovations can we expect to see from KNOTT in the future?
RH: As it has done since our founding in 1937, KNOTT constantly improves its products so that it can continuously fulfil customers' demands. KNOTT cannot divulge too much on upcoming developments because of non-disclosure contracts with our customers - but it is acutely aware of trends in the military sector and the braking industry generally. More vehicles are being equipped with electric drive systems, and braking systems must therefore adapt to accommodate this challenge. KNOTT is already working on this, so consider it well prepared.