The automotive chassis experts of the BWI Group are driven by quality
There’s one thing the BWI Group will never put the brakes on, and that’s great performance on the road. Manufacturing superior quality chassis, brakes, and suspension equipment is driving them to new heights of market success, and into a brand new, state-of-the-art American manufacturing facility.
BWI Group produces components for the world’s premiere automotive OEMs, from Ferrari, Porsche, and Lamborghini to GMC, Ford, Chevrolet, and BMW – and virtually any other automaker you can name. The company operates technical and manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Mexico, Europe, and Asia, as well as test tracks around the globe.
In 2009, the BWI Group, shorthand for BeijingWest Industries Co. Ltd, was formed through the acquisition of Delphi Corporation’s divestiture of its chassis business. At the time of the purchase, in addition to a handful of stateside engineering and administrative activities, Delphi’s chassis business operated two manufacturing facilities in Europe and two in China and was also manufacturing parts in Mexico.
“Since then we’ve added an additional plant in Beijing and a third European plant in the Czech Republic,” reported company VP Tom Gold. “From the time of our sale we’ve grown from around half a billion dollars and now we’re approaching a billion dollars.”
While the trend may be for domestic firms to look to offshore operations as a way to cut labor costs, BWI Group took a different route. “We’d reached a point where our plant in Mexico was full, and it was tremendously important for us to get a site in the Midwest because we needed a logistical balance between the U.S. and Mexico. We got there in the reverse order that most companies do. Most companies have plants here and then go to Mexico to get low labor rates, but we did it in reverse.”
That move resulted in the construction of a state-of-the art manufacturing facility in Greenfield, Indiana, which, upon completion later this year, will employ roughly 300 workers. “The Greenfield facility will be the most automated we have of our six sites around the world,” said Craig Diem, Global Director of Manufacturing Operations. The additional flexibility the Indiana site brings will enable BWI Group to be more competitive here in the States.
“With our legacy being General Motors, Delco, and Delphi, people expect performance and quality out of our designs and parts,” Diem continued. “But that’s not just solely in the USA. We don’t distinguish ourselves any differently in terms of manufacturing in our plant in Beijing, or Mexico, or Poland, or in our new site. We are going to be making a design that is global in the future, in three different regions. Our quality and performance are the same wherever we manufacture in the world.”
“At BWI Group we’ve been very fortunate,” he went on. “We were purchased by a company that was interested in investing and growing a business, and they put the money into our company,” he stressed.
The road to great handling, smoother rides, and big successes
The Indiana operation will build the company’s acclaimed shocks and struts. These passive dampers are made for all sizes of passenger cars, from performance and luxury cars to heavy SUVs and delivery vans.
“We’re starting with our passive dampers, and in the future we will be putting in our MagneRide controlled dampers made with magneto-rheological (MR) fluid,” Diem noted.
“MR-fluid dampers have been around before the year 2000, but we’ve continued to refine them. We supply them to General Motors, across a wide range of their vehicles, and to Ford. We also supply many high-performance sports car manufacturers in Europe like Ferrari and Lamborghini.”
The patented MagneRide technology maximizes tire-to-road contact, minimizing the effect of unexpected hazards like a dip or crest in the road, in turns or on bumpy surfaces. MagneRide improves road isolation and reduces driver fatigue. Increased damping control makes driving seem effortless, even on demanding roads.
Gold pointed out, “The most important feature of MagneRide is that it’s electronically tunable as opposed to mechanically tunable. The ability to customize the ride for each customer is infinitely more flexible than mechanical valves. That’s what makes MagneRide so special. It’s not just the tailoring of the ride, it’s the ability to quickly tune it to what the customer is looking for.” And when he says flexibility, he’s not kidding.
“In a mechanically controllable system, you have valves that open and close either with pressure or velocity and it’s mechanically driven, has springs that flex and open an orifice. MagneRide is based on a magnetic field where you vary the current into the valve. By varying the current, you can vary the damping. MagneRide actually reads the road and reacts to it 1,000 times per second.”
“Our high-end customers are all about performance,” Diem interjected. “They use MagneRide because it gives them what they need to get the ultimate performance out of their vehicles.”
BWI is branching out into the manufacture of a number of different suspension and chassis related products, including a magneto-rheological engine mount it supplies to Porsche and AMG. “That’s a business that is growing,” Gold intimated. “Using MR fluid technology to isolate and provide control of the powertrain is a significant opportunity for growth as more and more electric vehicles come into the market.”
Another hot product line is the AeroRide air suspension system, which adds a critical element on the minds of all drivers: increased fuel economy. BWI Group’s air suspension is designed for high pressure and high side load applications, and it delivers proven performance in extreme conditions.
Gold added, “We see a more dynamic situation in the marketplace with the OEMs today than we’ve ever seen in our careers, especially with the combination of the drive toward autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, and the move toward electronics and move away from mechanical systems.”
Electric cars are significantly quieter than standard vehicles — and require quieter parts. Weight is another R&D concern being explored. “Electric vehicles and their power trains are heavy, so the ability to control large masses in cornering events and in rough road events is something we have to be prepared for,” Gold said. When it comes to autonomous vehicles, the biggest issue for shock and strut manufacturers will be “comfort, comfort, and comfort,” Gold emphasized.
“We have to service our customers in the cars that they’re producing now, but we also have to find a way to be prepared for the autonomous and electric vehicles,” Diem said. “It’s like trying to keep your feet in two different canoes: keeping an eye toward the future, staying abreast of that and being ready while you’re still servicing customers with internal combustion engines.”
As these sea changes loom on the horizon, manufacturers are in caution mode. “There is a tremendous amount of change coming, but it’s hard to qualify and quantify it,” Gold added. “The people who are able to figure it out and get there first will be the ones that prosper. We’re trying to be there.”
That effort is reflected in BWI’s mission statement, which is to give customers the right solution in the right place at the right time, with a passion for excellence and a commitment to growth. Said Gold, “When we wrote those words we didn’t realize how significant it was to what we wanted to be. Over time, when we’d ask ourselves how we were going to be successful, we found ourselves using those words. We use that mission statement more so now than when we first wrote it.”
BWI Group is a full-service supplier of chassis, suspension, and brake products. Their people, technical centers, manufacturing plants and intellectual property enable them to bring to market a legacy of producing brake and suspension components, modules, and systems of more than eight decades. This gives them a unique perspective as they work to find the right product solution for their customers. From synthesis and analysis of an entire chassis system, to suspension and brake prototypes, BWI Group has the experience and knowledge to weigh both the theoretical and real-world factors for successful customer specific designs and applications.
The BWI Group team has deep experience in designing and manufacturing both suspension and brake parts for customers around the world, which has given them an appreciation of the importance of adapting their products to meet the specific brand character and functionality requirements of each vehicle. For example, actual driving conditions as well as expectations vary from customer to customer, region to region and country to country. They understand that even vehicles intended for a “global” market must frequently have their suspension and brake parts tailored to meet specific market needs. BWI Group’s widespread technical and manufacturing footprint enables them to work in partnership with OEMs around the world to make each project successful.
BWI Group can design, source and validate every component within these modules or combine their capabilities with part sources our customers have already chosen. The proven ability to manage Tier II and Tier III suppliers and deliver modules enables them to provide customers with valuable services, which goes beyond merely supplying parts.
From premium dampers and MagneRide® controlled suspension systems to brake calipers and Electronic Stability Control systems, BWI Group has innovative products and people. They support their products with a full line of analysis, prototype, test, and validation tools, as well as robust manufacturing and quality systems. They can support your projects too. If you would like to know more about BWI Group, contact them — and let them know how they can help make a difference in your business.
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Kettering, OH 45420