Based in Gaspé, Quebec, BB High Performance Brake Pads Inc. (doing business as KUMA Brakes) specializes in the production of high performance brake pads for industrial applications. KUMA Brakes currently offers a sustainable solution to the energy industry with its innovative brake pads, which support maximum energy production in high power wind turbines while reducing downtime and costs. operating. These innovative brake pads are currently used in nearly 50% of North American wind turbines and KUMA Brakes is the only company in North America to hold a General Electric brake pad certification for wind turbines.
The company’s beginnings were far more humble than their current successes suggest. The founder of the company, Christian Babin, had the idea to create his company when he was a teacher in CEGEP and he taught students the maintenance of wind turbines. In 2008 he founded KUMA Brakes and over 7 years he developed a metallurgical formulation and manufacturing process that would produce a high quality product. The company’s first brake pad prototypes were completed in early 2011, in collaboration with the Automotive and Surface Transportation Research Center (NRC-AST) of the National Research Council of Canada from its Boucherville powder forming plant. Over the next few years, the NRC research team provided support for mechanical performance testing of pads, qualification of raw material suppliers, selection of equipment and fine-tuning of the manufacturing process. During this collaboration, Christian was put in touch with Stéphane Héroux, Industrial Technology Advisor (ITA) at the NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP).
When he first became involved with NRC IRAP in 2013, Christian clearly had innovative technology, but his company still lacked employees, sales, manufacturing capabilities and a business plan. official business. To start, Stéphane helped Christian develop a business and IP strategy. Laying these foundations was an essential first step in putting the company on the right growth trajectory. With a plan in place, NRC IRAP then worked with the company to establish the right manufacturing capabilities. Stéphane shared his technical expertise and advised on how to set up automated systems and build an internal team to operationalize the processes. The company followed this direction and hired a team of engineers and technicians. In 2015, after the development of its prototype, KUMA Brakes was ready to launch its innovative brake pads on the market.
KUMA Brakes was a perfect fit for wind turbines and NRC IRAP continued to provide advice and support to strengthen the company’s business strategy. The strategy ran alongside the company’s automated manufacturing and allowed the company to meet continued demand and prepare for future scale-up.
Stéphane provided ongoing guidance and worked alongside KUMA Brakes, helping the company grow, develop new products and expand into new markets. Recently, he and a team of other ITAs have supported efforts to expand KUMA Brakes’ product line. NRC IRAP’s International Co-Innovation Action Plan (ICAP) helped KUMA Brakes establish an international partnership with a German company. As a result, KUMA Brakes is working on launching an innovative brake pad for a new industrial market in Europe and Asia. The company’s ambitions loom on the horizon as it begins to enter new industries in the rail and naval sectors and open up to international partnerships and markets.
KUMA Brakes has grown exponentially since its market debut. From $75,000 in sales in 2017 to a 500% increase in 2018, 300% in 2019 and a 20% increase in subsequent years. The company recently automated part of its production, which allowed it to double its production and lower its manufacturing costs, in order to be competitive on the world market.
KUMA Brakes recently showcased their success at the June 2022 show”East of Quebec innovation meeting. Their journey from an innovative idea to an innovative product has culminated in a highly successful Gaspé-based company that supports sustainable practices in industry through clean energy solutions, an area of growing importance in the global fight against climate change. climatic changes.
Our NRC IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor, Stéphane, has been one of the most important players in the growth of our business and NRC has supported our vision from the very beginning – from an innovative idea to an innovative product. »