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Innovation, sustainability and the mobility of the future. Brembo has always been committed to researching and developing cutting-edge technological solutions that not only stand out for their focus on performance, comfort and style, but are also aimed at preserving the environment.
Following the 2020 slowdown due to the lockdowns implemented in various countries to combat the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2021 Brembo’s investment management policy continued in line with the guidelines followed to date, with the aim of strengthening the Group’s presence not only in Italy, but also at the international level.
Group’s total net investments undertaken in 2021 at all operations amounted to €236,175 thousand, of which €180,018 thousand was invested in property, plant and equipment, €29,988 thousand in intangible assets, and €26,169 thousand in leased assets. The most significant investments were concentrated in Italy (30.6%), North America (32.2%), China (14.1%) and Poland (9.8%).
In Italy, works on the new building in Curno, which houses the Carbon Factory, continued. The building has been designed in view of progressively verticalising — within a single production facility adjacent to Brembo’s current hub — the entire development and production process for raw components used in carbon-fibre discs and pads for racing applications and for high-performance road vehicles. The new building occupies an area of approximately 7,000 square metres, in addition to the 10,000 square metres of green space, parking and logistics and storage areas planned as part of the project. After having installed and started up the first systems in the previous years, additional machines continued to be installed in 2021 for a gradual increase in production capacity, reaching full operation in 2022.
To meet the need for new manufacturing spaces, at the end of 2020 Brembo Czech entered into a new operating lease for a building (designated O23) of approximately 22,000 square meters in the same business park where the current production facility is located. The RoU (Right of Use) recognised, calculated over a period of 15 years, had a value of approximately €25 million. Painting, pad printing and assembly of fixed aluminium calipers will be gradually transferred to the new building, as well as storage of semi-finished and finished products, in addition to a part dedicated to office space.
The other investments in property, plant and equipment made by the Group primarily related to purchases of plant, machinery and equipment to increase the level of production automation and constantly improve the mix and quality of factories.
With regard to investments in intangible assets, development costs for 2021 amounted to €21,463 thousand (9.1% of the Group’s total investments).
In the area of brake discs for cars and commercial vehicles, at the end of 2020 Brembo presented its Greentive® disc, the result of the experience it has acquired in the field of brake systems, and particularly of the know-how and expertise gained through the European LowBraSys project.
The Greentive® disc is characterised by an innovative coating applied to the cast-iron braking ring, which ensures very low wear and tear, extends disc life and, combined with the dedicated friction material, also reduces particulate emissions during braking, and hence the impact on the environment.
Another distinctive quality of Greentive® is its high resistance to corrosion which, in addition to maintaining unchanged the aesthetics of the disc in different situations, is particularly appreciated for the new generations of electric vehicles, characterised by different use of the brake system.
In 2021, application development was intensified with a major German manufacturer for the supply of the Greentive® disc paired with brake pads developed specifically by Brembo Friction for high-performance applications, in particular for the premium and luxury segment vehicles. Production is set to begin in 2022, while the development phase continued in parallel with other major car manufacturers.
The Greentive® disc encompasses cutting-edge technological solutions and is merely the first step in Brembo’s product roadmap for brake discs in pursuit of environmental sustainability, with increasingly green products. The release in the coming years of a European legislation that will regulate the emissions of fine particles from braking systems helps to further strengthen Brembo’s activity in the research, development and testing of other solutions to be applied to cast iron discs through the study of materials, technologies and surface treatments in collaboration with European research centres and suppliers.
Of fundamental importance is Brembo Friction’s concurrent development of brake pads specifically designed for these new disc types and hence capable of significantly contributing to ensuring the entire brake system’s performance and emissions goals are met.
Particular attention is also being devoted to the new needs of hybrid and electric vehicles, which use regenerative braking and thus introduce new requirements for brake discs, especially with regard to criticalities relating to disc resistance to corrosion.
In light of the Company’s specific focus on the industrialisation phase, the in-depth study of the application processes for these unconventional new brake disc technologies is also very important, as it ensures high quality standards even on high production volumes.
All these new solutions, which aim to reduce environmental impact and improve aesthetics and corrosion resistance, are meeting with strong interest among Brembo’s main clients. In particular, the development phases with major car manufacturers will continue in 2022, while production of discs that will adopt one of these technologies is set to begin for a major electrical vehicle manufacturer in Europe.
According to precise guidelines applied throughout the automotive sector and all of Brembo’s development activities, considerable attention is also paid to new solutions that are able to reduce disc weight, as a lower weight translates into lower vehicle fuel consumption, and consequently a smaller environmental impact (reduced CO2 emissions).
This is an aspect that has become even more important due to the entry into force of the new European Regulation setting the new emissions limits for manufacturers.
In car applications, after having worked with a major German customer to develop the concept for the light brake disc currently installed in its entire platform of core vehicles, Brembo will also supply this product for the next generation of vehicles within the same platform, for which the application development phase was completed and the entire range of new models — some of which are fully electric — is being launched.
The light disc — which enables a reduction in weight of up to 15% compared to a conventional disc due to the combination of two different materials (cast iron for the braking ring and a thin steel laminate for the disc hat) — has also been successfully developed for other major automotive manufacturers, which are already using it in some of their models. The light disc continued to attract the interest of other customers, not only in Europe, including new players who have entered the electric vehicle market.
Work on discs for heavy commercial vehicles — an application segment which is of particular interest to Brembo — continued with a focus on improving performance and reducing weight.
Activities therefore intensified with several customers, also outside Europe. The applications developments related to such customers are underway and should be finalised during the next two years. The acquisition of new businesses with major European customers will enable the Group to further increase its market share in this specific segment.
The development of street motorbike discs made with new materials and new surface treatments continued. In particular, prototypes have been launched for the “lightweight” metal disc, and the coated disc is being tested. Both products are currently in the process of concept validation.
For the new product range developed for the Indian market, the four-piston front caliper and the handlebar master cylinder were added; their design was defined and validations are underway for the first assemblies with components obtained through permanent mould casting, processed and assembled following a prototype process. In addition to its uniform design, the new product range has been conceived to be able to be customised according to the needs of motorbike manufacturers.
The process of developing motorbike by-wire technology continues. Assembly of the second demonstrator was concluded, implementing all the progress made in developing the first. Software development of the second demonstrator is ongoing and will be completed by June 2022. In the meantime, design activity on the brake unit and electric rear calliper components continued, in view of entering mass production.
Design strategy activity is taking concrete form focusing on formulating the style of all motorbike products and rationalising the current product portfolio. Definition of the product specification of the new top-of-the-line front fixed calliper is nearing conclusion, and design-to-cost activity will begin in early 2022.
Brembo’s commitment to increasing its presence in the scooter market has taken concrete form with the launch of six different projects for two important customers, with design work to take place in Italy and manufacturing in India.
The search for new markets in the field of high performance two-wheelers also continued: benchmarking has been carried out with currently mass-produced products thanks to which a product specification and a potential market have been defined. The design activity is continuing in order to have the first prototypes available by May 2022.
Two innovation projects relating to simulation and methodologies are also in progress. One is aimed at developing a tool for design (thermomechanical analysis) and simulation of the quenching process for motorbike steel discs, whereas the other is intended to connect and automate the greatest possible number of design phases for the various motorbike products. The former is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2022, whereas the latter is expected to continue until early 2023.
The content and timing of the motorbike roadmap has been revised in accordance with the Group’s vision, focusing on the three following targets: low emissions, high performance and best driving experience. Updates were made taking into account the constant improvement of existing products, development of new concepts for products in the range and creation of new technologies and products not currently in the portfolio.
Regarding the racing world, the carbon/carbon brake system for racing applications project (F1, LMP – Le Mans Prototype, IRL – Indy Racing League and Super-Formula) continued to focus on three development areas:
Carbon/carbon and carbon ceramic racing brake systems continued to be tested by a Brembo’s development partner in Germany, with the goal of quantifying their emissions. In the area of carbon ceramic discs destined for road applications, mass production of the Lamborghini with CCMR carbon ceramic brakes was launched. This vehicle, which offers racing-like performance, will be in production for around two years.
Moreover, the testing approval process was completed both internally and by the customer on a new CCMR braking system conceived for vehicles with extreme racing-like performance.
The vehicle will enter production in the first months of 2022.
The innovative 48V electro-mechanical brake-by-wire project with hydraulic actuator and a safety concept based on F1 experience, carried out with a top team in a major World Motorsport Championship, became a well-established activity.
With regard to further brake-by-wire developments, activities relating to the braking system of the upcoming FE GEN 3 vehicle have begun; in this case, Brembo will supply the entire brake system and front brake-by-wire starting with the 2023 season.
Another application of a system including brake-by-wire involves the upcoming prototypes for Le Mans designated LMH, for which Brembo has been assigned the role of supplier of the whole brake system, inclusive of carbon discs and brake by wire.
It should be noted that Brembo’s supply of brake-by-wire systems in the racing world now extends to three markets: Formula 1 (since 2014), Formula E (since 2018 with one client and since 2023 with all clients) and LMH prototype categories since 2023 with at least one team (project already assigned in 2022).
Brake-by-wire systems for racing are characterised by the same safety concept that allows an extremely rapid switch to traditional pedal braking, performed by the driver if there is a fault on the brake-by-wire system.
The entire racing car design team was committed to defining and designing the 2022 F1 brake systems, which, due to the new regulations, will be completely different and for which the use of a new internally developed carbon/carbon material is planned.
In the 2022 season, an F1 team will launch a new caliper concept with embedded sensors for both axles following the positive feedback during use on the track in several testing sessions conducted in late 2020.
The new caliper with embedded sensors, combined with electronics installed on the vehicle, will allow braking torque to be continuously measured.
As regards the simulation field, testing is continuing of new calculation methodologies for the structural part and thermal properties of the disc, for the thermoelastic and fatigue calculation, as well as for integrating the calculation within the customer wheel unit — in other words, mechanical and thermal calculations with computational fluid dynamics (CFD) solutions.
Continuing with an internal project of constant fine-tuning on testing benches and in simulations that began some years ago, several testing and simulation methods were refined and further enhanced. Advanced integration of testing and calculation has made it possible, for several years now, to use various sensors obtained through the calculation model and/or models obtained from the database.
In the MotoGP class of motorbike applications, new systems are fully available to all clients, including a brake caliper ensuring amplified force and an anti-drag system. In line with the F1 initiatives, new projects were confirmed with a major Italian motorbike manufacturer. The projects will be governed by a development contract with the manufacturer and will concern new brake, clutch and wheels systems.
The debut on the track of the new 2020 MotoGP caliper, designed with the best available simulations, was a success, so that it was soon confirmed by all the teams for the 2021 season.
Major disc developments will also be tested in view of the 2022 world championships.
Mid-way through the previous season a new carbon disc was introduced for Moto GP, characterised by fins enabling swifter heat dissipation.
After more than ten years, Brembo Friction confirmed its role as a strategic partner for pairing Brembo pads with callipers and discs.
Once again, the market is showing every confidence in Brembo Friction, whose excellence is confirmed by the most demanding car manufacturers, which — in constant search for increasingly flexible, personalised and environmentally friendly friction materials — choose Brembo’s pads for their top-end applications.
Brake pads paired with an increasingly varied range of discs, made from cast iron and carbon-ceramic, with and without surface treatments, that offer higher performance and are designed for applications with increasingly green objectives: these are the new demands of a market that is focused on the needs of electric vehicles and constant legislative environmental requirements. Moreover, the ongoing innovative drive has made it possible to develop specific friction materials also for electric calipers.
The development of friction materials with increasingly lower emissions, combined with a focus on recyclable, lowenvironmental impact raw materials and reduced greenhouse gas production, reflects the green drive of global research.
Once again, Brembo is at the forefront in anticipating new legislation and studying the different environmental impacts through preventative analysis of laws and regulations, including those in effect in the countries where the product will then be marketed. Brembo looks to a future in which the Life Cycle Assessment methodology will also be extended to all products and processes, a study that allows the potential impacts on the environment and human health to be quantified, in terms of consumption of resources and carbon dioxide emissions.
Projects such as AFFIDA and LIBRA flow from Brembo’s increasingly close focus on the environment.
AFFIDA, the natural extension of the COBRA project (which was part of the European Life+ project), in collaboration with the Mario Negri Institute, seeks to bring to the OE market the innovative technology of inorganic binders, having a key role in reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, with important positive repercussions for the environment. The new materials are able to perform on a par with their traditional predecessors, while also meeting the high-performance standards required by the most challenging sporting applications and guaranteeing low fine particulate emissions and a lower consumption of resources. The innovative production technology, which is completely different from the traditional one, has already successfully completed the prototype pre-industrialisation phase, thanks to a press created with ad-hoc technology, and the specific improvement activity as regards NVH (Noise Vibration Harshness) was launched.
The LIBRA project, which has been ongoing since 2015, eliminated the steel backing plate in brake pads, replacing it with high-performance composite materials. Research of new raw materials and technologies continued in order to obtain both a lighter pad, with the resulting reduction in the overall brake system’s weight, and a shorter production process. In this case as well, an innovative press fully devoted to manufacturing these pads was installed as soon as the end of 2019 to prepare for mass production of the product. A new short-term goal is to transfer the innovation and technology develop thanks to this project, and currently applied to parking brakes, to rear brake pads.
To this end, Brembo Friction also avails of statistical models capable of optimising friction material formulations and identifying the raw materials that most influence their chemical and physical properties.
Moreover, the advanced technology in the automotive field has paved the way for the development of a new brake pad concept with embedded sensors that aims to make the braking system increasingly integrated within new vehicles.
Thanks to the use of specific sensors embedded in the friction material, the tests that confirmed that real-time measurement of braking torque is possible continued. At the same time, the industrialisation process of this new brake pad concept has been launched.
Technical and industrial collaboration with the Japanese partner Showa Denko (former Hitachi Chemical) both to develop new materials and manufacture Brembo products in China, Mexico and Japan, continued.
The acquisition of SBS Friction A/S — a company that develops and manufactures brake pads from sintered and organic materials — will make it possible to expand the product range and further reinforce Brembo’s knowledge of and leadership in the motorbike sector.
With regard to Car and Commercial Vehicle Systems, all products are developed in accordance with the Group’s vision and pursue three guidelines: having increasingly low emissions while offering high performance and the best driving experience.
The main example of this focus is Sensify™, the revolutionary new brake system introduced in October of this year.
Sensify™ is a digital brake ecosystem in which artificial intelligence, software and sensors manage the braking of each wheel independently.
The application development and industrialisation phases for Sensify™ are still ongoing, whereas launch into production with the first manufacturers will take place in 2024.
In keeping with the strategic priorities that Brembo has set for itself, the promotional phase for Sensify™ is fully underway for both Group clients and new players entering the electric vehicles market.
With reference to other mechatronic developments, the promotional phase continued for electric parking brakes, in various configurations, for both cars and commercial vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes. Mechatronics — by now an application discipline and no longer merely advanced research — is becoming increasingly important to the Group. Sensify™ and the electric parking brakes will account for a considerable share of Brembo’s revenues in the second half of this decade.
With the Sensify™ ecosystem, individual components undergo important changes: the addition of sensors to the brake calliper becomes fundamental and the resulting data collection leads to evolution of the entire brake system. The latter can be calibrated to the actual use of the vehicle, with the consequent benefits in terms of weight. Within this framework, a project to equip brake calipers with sensors is in progress and approval is expected to be received by 2025.
With regard to the three guidelines identified for each product under development, the one referring to low emissions, i.e., aimed at reducing vehicle consumption and the resulting CO2 and fine particulate emissions through braking systems, is pursued by Brembo by adopting methods designed to minimise caliper mass, while maintaining performance, and reducing residual torque by formulating new characteristics of coupling between seals and pistons, in addition to optimising a pad sliding system based on a new concept. In keeping with the low-emission guideline, approval of an alloy using completely recycled aluminium is also currently pending. Production of fixed calipers using recycled aluminium is expected to begin in 2025 with a major European manufacturer.
The product and process improvement work is constantly ongoing in the same way as the search for solutions to reduce mass, optimise performance and improve styling.
Two examples of this continuous improvement aimed at providing state-of-the-art solutions for the high-performance market are the Dyadema™ caliper, designed with the goal of considerably reducing track operating temperatures, and the Flexira™ caliper, developed to meet the needs of several new market segments.
In keeping with this vision, development continued for Brembo’s patented Semi-Solid Metal Casting (BSSM) technology, which maintains equal performance while enabling a reduction in weight of 5 to 10% in relation to caliper geometry. Concept approval is currently underway, whereas validation of the smallseries production process is expected by the end of 2022 The development of friction materials also pursues low emissions and high performance objectives. In the case of the former, materials paired with coated discs are being developed, whereas in the case of the latter the materials under development are paired with all types of carbon ceramic discs.
The ongoing evolution of simulation methodologies is focused on aspects linked to brake system comfort and caliper functionality.
Brembo’s objective is to develop the simulation capacity for the entire brake system, including the friction material. From this standpoint, the ability to rely on the know-how and installed capacity within the Brembo Friction project represents a strength for the Group, which can position itself as a supplier of complete brake system. On the other hand, the development of a methodology for simulating caliper functionality is aimed at establishing, during the design stage, the caliper characteristics that influence a constant performance over time and the car’s pedal feel.
Digitalisation of the Brembo product life cycle is ensured by the Product Development Methods function that, with the GBUs (Global Business Units) and GCFs (Global Central Functions), provides methodological, operational and legal support for managing data and project flows.
Product Development Methods support and guide the GBUs/ GCFs in adopting PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) throughout the phases of product development, seeking to combine the data from the various departments (digital thread) unambiguously and indissolubly, ensuring that it is traceable and distributing it securely to all internal stakeholders.
PLM is used to share design documents, development phases, base technical specifications and CAD drawings used for numerical simulations: the simultaneous sharing of information through PLM favours collaborative product development, with the consequent reduction in project development times.
The state of the art of simulation of products and physical processes is constantly monitored — through dialogue with qualified suppliers and participation in conferences and university research projects — both to update the company’s technological and methodological content and to realise virtual models that are increasingly representative of the reality that they seek to reproduce (Digital Twin), thus rendering them more efficient and predictive.
To this end, particular emphasis is placed on “simulation process automation”, which translates the routine manual operations performed by simulation analysts into automatic digital flows, with the goal of condensing into procedures the know-how gained in implementing simulations, reducing errors relating to manual performance of such simulations and also making them available to a broader audience.
On the basis of the know-how consolidated during the previous three years, the global Data Science and HPC (High Performance Computing) team continued its five-year upgrade process, which focused on a broadening of the resources dedicated to achieving the Company’s digital transformation through the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning to big data. At present, the team can also rely on a new operating unit: the Brembo Inspiration Lab, a Centre of Excellence in Silicon Valley, California. This includes the processes of:
Acting as a competence centre for all GBUs and GCFs, the team operates within a multi-disciplinary Digital Lab that brings together the expertise of Data Scientists, Big Data Engineers, Domain Experts and Project Managers, developed and constantly renewed through an intense internal training programme to ensure the spread of “Data Culture” according to Brembo.
Advanced R&D activities constantly monitor the evolution of vehicles, in line with key general trends: electrification, advanced driver assistance systems (ADASs), autonomous driving, low environmental impact, and connectivity. The high level of integration will bring the brake system into dialogue with other vehicle systems, such as electric-drive motors and new suspension/steering concepts. Such integration will allow for increased active safety and the optimisation of functions, such as regenerative braking.
Brembo is continuing to develop and refine the Sensify™ system, whose peculiarity lies in its “decentralised” architecture, in which each wheel side has its own electromechanical actuator for generating and controlling the required braking force. This evolution will lead Sensify™ to be increasingly integrated into the vehicle system in accordance with the development of its architecture.
Mechatronics and system integration entail the development of new components for Brembo’s products, including sensors, mechanisms and electric motors. Brembo therefore coordinated a group of companies based in the Lombardy region within the framework of the funded project “Inproves”, with the aim of creating brushless motors based on permanent magnets offering very high levels of performance, specifically designed for the brakes of the future. The project was officially concluded in May 2021, with a view to extend the activities performed to specific future projects for Brembo.
In addition, Brembo continued to conduct R&D activities in cooperation with international universities and research centres with the aim of constantly seeking out new solutions to apply to brake discs and calipers, in terms of new materials, innovative technologies and mechanical and electronic components.
The need to reduce product weight is leading the research function to evaluate the use of unconventional materials, such as technopolymers or reinforced light metal alloys, to produce structural components.
Another initiative in this area is Brembo’s investment in Infibra Technologies, a spin-off of the academic institution Sant’Anna - School of Advanced Studies of Pisa, specialised in developing photonic sensors through the use of fibre-optics as the sensor element.
After the LowBraSys project funded by the European Union as part of its Horizon 2020 programme with the aim of proving that fine particle emissions can be reduced, work continued with other projects financed at the European level, such as MODALES (MOdify Drivers’ behaviour to Adapt for Lower EmissionS), involving Brembo as a development partner. The goal of the MODALES project is to promote an understanding of the variability due to user (driver) behaviour and that due to vehicular emissions from powertrain, brakes and tyres. Its aim is to modify users’ behaviour also through dedicated training.
Within the framework of the Horizon 2020 programme as well, Brembo is also participating in the European consortium that is developing the funded project EVC1000. The goal of this project is to demonstrate the technological feasibility of a completely electric vehicle with a range of more than 1,000 km per charge, where Brembo’s contribution is to provide a further refinement of the Sensify™ system.