In 1930, Clessie Cummins drove the first diesel-engined passenger car from Indianapolis to New York, the Chrysler Building topped 1,000 ft., and the company that eventually became Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems was born. Eighty-five years after the Bendix-Westinghouse Automotive Airbrake Company was established in Wilmerding, PA, it’s still driven by an unwavering commitment to safer roadways and better safety technology.
Bendix, the North American leader in the development and manufacture of active safety and braking solutions for commercial vehicles, was formed in 1930 by the merger of Bendix Aviation Company and Westinghouse Air Brake. The company moved its headquarters to Northeast Ohio in 1941, and in 2002 joined the Munich, Germany-based Knorr-Bremse Group, the world’s preeminent manufacturer of braking systems for rail and commercial vehicles.
“Even as Bendix has evolved and grown in the past 85 years, its story has always been one of ingenuity, initiative and intellect,” says Joe McAleese, Bendix Chairman, President and CEO. “Roadways and commercial vehicles have changed in many ways since 1930, but those qualities continue to drive and shape our efforts to improve highway safety and meet our industry’s ever-changing needs. It’s not always easy to see what’s around the next bend, and Bendix is proud of its decades-long record of keeping North America’s fleets and drivers on the leading edge of safety.”
Bendix began expanding its North American presence in 1980, opening a 30-worker manufacturing and distribution center in Huntington, IN. Today, Bendix employs 450 people at four high-tech facilities in Huntington. In 2000, Bendix opened two manufacturing plants in Acuña, Mexico, as well as a sales and distribution facility in Mexico City. The 2004 formation of Bendix Spicer Foundation Brake LLC, a joint venture with Dana Commercial Vehicle Products LLC, led to the establishment of more manufacturing operations in Bowling Green, KY, which is expected to employ 440 people this year. Bendix currently employs a total of more than 2,800 people across North America.
From air management systems to wheel-end solutions and active safety technologies, Bendix has consistently provided technology to help fleets and drivers operate ever-safer and more dependable commercial vehicles. Its compressors, air dryers, air disc and drum foundation brakes, automatic slack adjusters, and stability and active safety systems can be found as original equipment options – and have often achieved standard position – on all major North American heavy-duty truck manufacturers.
Among Bendix’s industry-changing safety innovations and milestones:
- First air compressor
- First commercial application of air disc brakes
- First dessicant air dryer
- North America’s first dual air brake systems
- Clearance-sensing automatic slack adjusters
- First widely available full-stability solutions
- First oil-coalescing air filter
- First tire pressure monitoring system to include temperature measurement and compensation
- First adaptive cruise control with braking and collision mitigation technology
Continuing to build on this legacy, Bendix recently unveiled its next-generation active safety technology. Bendix Wingman Fusion introduces stationary vehicle braking and other functions currently not available in the North American commercial vehicle market. The safety system upgrades and fuses three component technologies – camera, radar and brakes – with groundbreaking results, offering fleets and drivers real “one-stop shopping” convenience with an all-inclusive, better-performing safety option provided and supported by a single manufacturer.
Bendix continuously develops its portfolio of technologies to deliver on safety, vehicle performance and efficiency, and lower ownership costs, backing its components and systems with robust post-sales support and training.
Through its evolution and growth, Bendix has maintained its dedication to supporting communities and aims to grow active social involvement among employees through leadership and project management experience.
Bendix employees throughout North America participate in a wide range of community involvement programs, including annual United Way campaigns; hunger-relief efforts; Junior Achievement volunteering; and fundraising for the National Kidney Foundation, American Cancer Society and ALS Association. In February, 150 employees built the walls of a house in Florida for a local family, in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity and Help Build Hope.
“We look back over the past 85 years with pride on Bendix’s many commercial vehicle safety advancements, and on successes that have been driven by the industry’s most innovative, committed, and hardworking employees,” McAleese says. “And we will continue forward with the same values and strengths that have pushed us to lead and excel.”