Being a highly technical product, many of us don’t know the first thing about industrial braking systems besides the fact that brakes stop moving objects like cars. They are a safety mechanism that could potentially be the difference between life and death – whether it be the life of a human or the operating lifespan of a machine.

Bolstering Machinery Resilience with Storm-Proof Brakes

Aside from cars, braking systems are employed in many manufacturing, mining, marine, and engineering businesses powered by heavy machinery. Continue reading as we explore industrial braking systems in further detail.


Back to Basics

Brakes have the sole purpose of absorbing kinetic energy when two surfaces press together to bring an object to a halt.

Functioning at high speeds with large amounts of energy coursing through them, brakes are exposed to significant wear and tear while fulfilling their purpose. They also generate a lot of heat energy as they impose stopping power.

History Lesson

Until half a century ago, braking systems were predominantly drum brakes. Drums resulted in a heat build-up inside the drum during heavy braking sessions.

As a result of the braking system being a drum, there was only one surface from which energy and heat could dissipate.

With the need for a different approach, the automotive industry decided to adopt a disc braking system in the 1970s. Disc brakes meant that the rotor was exposed to outside air when in and out of use, allowing for a more efficient cooling system.

A faster cooling system meant that the brakes were less exposed to fading and overheating challenges. Heat and energy are also dispersed over two rotors as opposed to one drum making them more effective.

In a manufacturing setting, the use of this new braking system has drastically reduced downtime with machine failures.

There has also been a marked improvement in maintenance requirements and efficiency. They have allowed operations to continue smoothly in inhospitable environments.

Now that we are all caught up on the history and the basics of braking systems let’s look at the various types of brakes you are likely to encounter.


Different Types of Braking Systems


  • Hydraulic Brakes

Most commonly used in industrial applications like mining equipment, cranes, and winches, hydraulic brakes use braking fluids to transfer pressure from the control to the brake mechanism.


  • Fail-safe Brakes

Power losses are a common occurrence in South Africa, making this system invaluable to manufacturing plants. Fail-safe brakes are designed to kick into effect when a power interruption happens.


The best example here is an elevator. A great example is the movie Speed, where the elevator cables are severed, but the Fail-safe brakes keep everyone alive by preventing a catastrophic fall.


  • Pneumatic Brakes

Also known as an air brake, pneumatic brakes make use of compressed air stored in a reservoir. A valve will allow compressed air to flow through and engage the brake when the lever or pedal is actuated.


Think about those times you are stopped at a robot, and the truck next to you gives out a loud whoosh of air. That is the brake system decompressing.


  • Electromagnetic Brakes

Using electromagnetic force to create friction that will employ the stopping action, these brakes are a little more advanced than most.


Trains, trams, and aerospace programs often make use of this technology.


  • Spring-Applied Brakes

Also known as power-off brakes, they work similarly to the fail-safe brakes. Spring-applied brakes will stop or hold a load if power gets cut off.


Hoists are an example of a product that employs this braking system.


  • Storm Brakes

In the event of seismic activity or massive windstorms, storm brakes ensure that cranes are not set in motion accidentally, endangering lives or causing damage.


Brakes are an essential part of machinery today. We often overlook their importance and the value they add to production plants worldwide.


They are like the unsung heroes when it comes to keeping a plant going. The breakdown of a machine can often cause lengthy production delays, costing time and money.


The Makeup of Brakes

Different types of brakes get made for various machines and purposes. Hence the fact that brakes are manufactured from different materials. Depending on their use, the makeup of a braking system will differ.


Some brakes are made out of materials that sustain moisture better and live longer, while others don’t last as long but give a smooth, gentle performance on the rotor. Some synthetic brakes are made from high-boiling point materials and do not fade as quickly.


The industrial market falls to ceramic brakes or semi-metallic brakes. Metallic brakes are more aggressive, cost-effective, and used for heavy-duty applications. Ceramic brakes deal better with heat and will not wear down as quickly. Ceramic brakes are also easier on the rotor.


Where to go for Your Industrial Brakes

When you are looking for an industrial brake supplier, Heubner Speed Monitoring has a range of brakes and solutions that ensure you have minimal downtime in machine operation.

They supply their clients with the best quality braking supplies and services, making them the ideal partner for any machine-driven enterprise.

Heubner Speed Monitoring stock braking systems such as:

  • Wheel and Gantry Brakes
  • Drum and Band Brakes
  • Disc Brakes
  • Motor Mounted Brakes

Their goal is not to become your local brake stockist but instead to couple with you as your partner in business, providing solutions and products that you can rely on.