The history of TMD Friction begins in 1878, when one of the company’s founders, Walter Willson Cobbett, realized that the woven belts they produced could be easily adapted and used as friction material to stop vehicles. Probably the first major milestone was 1910, when Walter Willson Cobbett Ltd. supplied its products for the Ford Model T, the iconic model that paved the way for the concept of the ‘personal car’. At that time the company served as a sales company, today it is a company with a global presence that enjoys the trust of many car manufacturers, but also many drivers who choose to equip their cars with our products.

Interview with Adrian Dulea, Business Development Manager South & Eastern Europe at TMD Friction IAM

Easy Engineering: Which are the products range TMD Friction sells and what types of services do the company offer?

Adrian Dulea: TMD Friction offers a wide range of products and services, adapted to our times and needs, and the company owns several brands, such as Textar, Mintex, Don, Pagid, Cobreq, Nisshinbo or Cosid. Thus, the products designed, produced, and marketed by TMD Friction are dedicated to cars, commercial vehicles, race cars, but we are also talking about dedicated ranges for the industrial area or public transport. Each of them is carefully developed and has specific characteristics. As for services, TMD Friction is an OE manufacturer, together with the major car manufacturers we develop innovative solutions, but we also operate in the After Market industry, where quality does not fall below market standards, on the contrary.

E.E: How do these products / services differentiate from other types on the market?

A.D: As manufacturers we cannot provide an opinion on other services in the friction materials market. As in any business, it is good to focus on personal performance and innovation, not competitors and always compete with you to become the best, and this has taught us history for almost 150 years. What I can tell you instead is that we have a team of 5,000 experts dedicated to developing, testing and manufacturing our friction materials. Moreover, before going on the market, our brakes are tested up to 300,000 km on the road and our test track and up to 2000 hours on the test stands.

We are based on a rich history, we have equipped the most important cars built throughout history and today we are among the pioneers who designed the friction products for the cars of the future, the electric ones. At TMD Friction, we have a say: if it moves, it is our duty to stop it safely. That is why we currently offer a dedicated product for most types of vehicles in the world. For example, in Europe, we have a product for over 99% of the cars we see on the roads.

E.E: What customer profiles are you targeting?

A.D: If we look at it from a business perspective, we have several categories of customers: car manufacturers and brake system manufacturers, with whom we work directly to develop the best and especially suitable friction products for each car, but also the free market “aftermarket” through which we reach workshops or other distribution channels and finally the final customer, the user of the vehicle.

If we look at it from the perspective of responsibility, we are addressing each of you. The cars we drive today are more and more powerful and implicitly harder to stop, which is why we have a huge responsibility: to stop hundreds of millions of vehicles every day, starting from three defining values: safety, performance and comfort. We have a constant communication both with the services around the world and with the end users of our products, through which we do not necessarily want to highlight our products, as well as good practices, from how to put on friction products correctly and how we choose the right products for our cars.

E.E: What kind of activities develop do users who use these products / services?

A.D: We cannot talk about a certain type of predefined work in this field. If we limit ourselves to those to whom we sell products directly, we are talking about the global automotive market, manufacturers. If we are talking about end users, here we are talking about each of us, professionals in the field of cars or occasional drivers.

After all, every driver is interested in friction materials and chooses the best option for his car. I don’t think it’s such a small niche, I think the niche is a little wider, from car enthusiasts and drivers, to people who have made this passion a profession.

E.E: How do your products / services improve the work of users?

A.D: Collaboration with TMD Friction can be summarized as follows:

  • For car or brake system manufacturers: the security of working with a company with perhaps the most relevant expertise in the field;
  • For distributors: the certainty that our products are known and appreciated by their customers. Thanks to the emphasis on quality, our brands have established themselves in most markets and have a good reputation;
  • For services: we offer full support, not only products you buy through distributors. We are talking about trainings, direct communication, but also innovative digital products, such as GaraShield, through which independent services are helped to be better prepared for the future. Increasing efficiency comes with an important contribution to this, but digitalization brings another potential, much more important: the new acquisition of customers;
  • For the end users of our products: the guarantee of premium products, whether we are talking about OE, OES or Aftermarket products.

E.E: What innovative features do the products / services have?

A.D: Each brake pad is developed for a vehicle or for a specific purpose, and some products contain up to 43 raw materials to get the perfect formula. This is where the development in innovation begins. Our research and development team spends over 38,400 hours each year testing new friction formulas. We have special programs through which we develop such innovative products that you mention, for example for the Textar brand, we have the Lightweight program for commercial vehicles that involves the development of low weight brake pads, which result in cost savings and environmental protection. Also, for the Textar brand, we have developed, for about a year, a “fight the fakes” program. Thus, each package of brake pad comes with a seal called PROriginal which has a QR code. This code can be scanned directly from the Brakebook application or the code can be entered in the online catalog and thus the customer can find out if the purchased brakes are original or not.

E.E: What are the most common problems and how did you help solve them?

A.D: We can’t say we’re talking about problems. Our expertise offers us a great advantage: in the almost 150 years of existence, we have been exposed to many difficult contexts from which we have learned and thanks to which we have now become leaders in the market in which we operate.

However, we could mention a difficulty that comes against the background of changing paradigms. Today, more and more end consumers choose their own products. We are talking about situations, and not a few, in which people who drive ordinary, family cars, choose products intended for use for competitions, or who choose products that are not dedicated to their cars. From this consumption behaviour can arise many problems related to the efficiency of products, but most importantly, the safety of drivers. That’s why we developed the BrakeBook platform, through which auto mechanics can additionally inform themselves and give a good specialized advice to those who need it.

Also, a difficulty that comes against the same background is the one that most services face: the staff problem. The global number of cars in use is constantly increasing, as is the need for new services, but we cannot say that the number of professionals is growing at the same rate. That is why, even if they are not our direct customers, we develop numerous programs through which we communicate directly with the services. We have dedicated teams that only do field work, visit services, support trainings and are always close to those who need advice.

E.E: What products / solutions are you going to launch in the future?

A.D: We are in a continuous development, in fact the colleagues that are working worldwide in the research and development department are always looking for innovative solutions, friction materials as advanced as possible that ultimately aim to stop our vehicle in the shortest possible time and of course with as much comfort as possible when it comes to the noise produced by the elements that produce the friction “brake pad + brake disc”.

One of the innovative solutions recently launched with TMD Friction support is GaraShield , a platform that will revolutionize the management of a workshop, fleets but also interaction with the end user.

E.E: What are your estimates for the end of the year?

A.D: Of course, we have been talking for a rather difficult year both from a human point of view because we are still in the middle of a pandemic that changed the majority’s plan for this year, but we hope that after the first quarter of 2021 we will see a slight transition to normal.

As an activity, TMD Friction managed to maintain its standards at a high level through worldwide factories but also in terms of the fast reaction mode, so that the impact was easier to anticipate.