Next generation

The requirements on braking systems in terms of safety, comfort and networking capabilities have been continuously increasing over recent years. As a result, mechanical handbrakes are being replaced by electric parking brakes (EPB), representing an important step towards the complete electrification of braking systems. With the development of a spindle nut system, SFS were able to build further on their long-term partnership with their customer Continental.

Added value

  • Innovation in successfully growing electric parking brake market
  • Extensive experience in joint development as the basis for successful cooperation
  • Open communication to strengthen the basis of trust
  • "Local for local" strategy for short delivery times and communication without misunderstandings

Electrification of parking brakes

Electric parking brakes offer tremendous advantages: they provide more freedom in the design of the vehicle interior and reduce the weight and size of the braking system. Moreover, they offer additional functions such as stabilization in the event of brake failure, automatic re-tensioning, emergency braking and hill starting support via "auto-hold". Against this backdrop it comes as no surprise to learn that this market is experiencing exponential growth, with ever-increasing numbers of vehicles being fitted with EPB systems.

Confidence in SFS confirmed

Various EPB systems have been launched over recent years. The increasing market penetration has made the development of optimum key components even more important. Extending their existing portfolio, Continental wanted to introduce a caliper-integrated electric parking brake with lower requirements regarding clamping force (13.5 kN). Based on their extensive experience of similar products and the years of successful collaboration, SFS was charged with the design and development of a spindle nut system with optimized dimensions.

Florian Sauer Project manager at Continental in the area of Safety and Motion (business area), segment Hydraulic Brake Systems
"In addition to knowledge of the necessary production processes and logistics, the development - i.e. the construction (design) and the corresponding validation (test) of the assembly should be carried out by SFS."

Time to market

A rather ambitious timing plan was critical to the project’s success. However, due to the already well-established co-operation between Continental and SFS, it proved possible to rapidly put together a project team mirroring existing, well-functioning interfaces. Thanks to open, intensive communication, a mutual understanding of the technology and a powerful relationship of trust, the new electric park braking system featuring key components from SFS was launched onto the market on schedule.

Competency under one roof

The key components consisting of a nut, a spindle and a spindle support washer could all be produced using core manufacturing skills available at SFS (cold forming, machining, thread rolling and heat treatment). To minimize the development time and generate synergies, components from the pre-existing modular system were used. The early construction of several test benches in the company's own mechanical engineering department was also important for the implementation of customer requirements. Thanks to the available testing capacity, relevant parameters could be analyzed flexibly and promptly.

Lazar Milišić Project manager at Continental in the area of Safety and Motion (business area), segment Hydraulic Brake Systems
"The cooperation was and still is very constructive, structured and characterized by a common understanding of the team. You always have the feeling that everyone is working towards a common goal."

Advantages of localization and modularization

The production line was itself developed and assembled by the industrial engineering team at SFS. It was thus possible for Continental and SFS to agree on further co-operation in China even before the start of series production (SOP) in Europe at the SFS site in Switzerland. The launch of a second production line in Tianjin, CN clearly demonstrated the commitment to localization. Here again, SFS profited from their years of experience with EPB assemblies.

Parallel to localization, modularization was being established. Meeting different interfaces and differing requirements in terms of installation space, clamping force and load cycles, a tool-box system consisting of platform-specific components is under development, with the flexibility to match any assembly line requirements. The tool-box concept results in complete individualization whilst maintaining the benefits of economies of scale.

Exceeding expectations

The assembly was subject to continuous further development in line with Continental’s requirements; indeed, it became possible as the project progressed to actually exceed the specified clamping force.


Development partnership intensified

The development and successful industrialization of the spindle nut system represents an important milestone in the collaboration between Continental and SFS. Each partner was able to extend their product portfolio whilst intensifying their development partnership, laying a firm foundation for future collaboration on electric braking projects.


Used technologies