Axle Brake Technology, Corp. (ABT), a new global engineering and manufacturing firm, has opened headquarters in central Alabama. The company also plans to complete a new manufacturing facility there to provide heavy-duty axles and brake components for Class 6, 7, and 8 trucks and trailers in a competitive OEM and aftermarket arena.

These components include heavy-duty axles, automatic slack adjusters, custom forgings, S-cams, brake shoes, brake kits and other heavy-duty truck and trailer parts.

Rod Richardson, ABT's president & CEO, told FLEET OWNER that the company will be able to leverage its three established manufacturing facilities in Asia, with a fourth under construction, to offer competitive prices, while using its proximity to a Hyundai automotive plant and the Port of Mobile to cement relationships with suppliers.

The Asian facilities, which had previously operated individually, will now work with the North American plant as one manufacturing conglomerate under the ABT corporate headship.

There is increasing evidence that manufacturing is making a comeback in the U.S., said analyst Chris Brady, president of Commercial Motor Vehicle Consulting. “Look at Hino, which now has an assembly plant in the U.S. Previously they were importing vehicles,” he said. “Volvo expanded its Hagerstown, MD, plant to produce parts rather than import them.”

For trucking, putting an operation in North America does present some key advantages, Brady said. “You'd be closer to your supply base and work more closely with the OEM, which would strengthen the relationship from OEM to supplier.

“However, the brake and axle market is very competitive, and there is a greater emphasis towards working with fewer suppliers,” Brady continued. “They would be going up against Dana and Arvin-Meritor.

ABT has a large base of existing customers that are supplied by the Asian facilities, including some “major players” in the heavy truck manufacturing industry from all over the world, said Richardson.