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Insight

Advanced Belt Technology Running Across Vehicle Segments

Mon, 09/01/2014 - 11:00

Gates began manufacturing goods and services for different industrial sectors in the early 1900s. In the century since then, it has solidified itself as a major automotive supplier based on two main divisions: original equipment and replacement. In Gates’ OE division, the company works shoulder to shoulder with its OEM clients to develop new equipment, new devices, and new systems. Gates provides several high-performance products, formulas and designs that have provided an added value in different areas within the automotive industry’s value chain. Since the industry is constantly demanding lower costs and higher performance, which implies the use of a lot of technology both in the design of products and in manufacturing processes. Gates’ clients motivate the company to pursue such innovations, according to Victor Mendoza, Gates de México’s Director General. The company focuses on the development of high technology innovations in its laboratories in Europe, the US and Asia. But across all its operations, Gates seeks to instill one common belief. The firm believes that it is not just selling products, but providing services while trying to stay one step ahead with innovative, high-tech products that exceed the performance levels that customers are expecting. Gates exports from its Mexican automotive facilities to China, Canada, and Europe. This broadening of export horizons leads Mendoza to believe that exciting times are here to stay, both for Gates and for Mexico,.

Gates serves many industries, so it is no surprise that certain beneficial synergies exist as the company can transfer its solutions from one industry to another. One clear example is the high-tech light weight belt developed by Gates that is replacing heavy metal roller chains in power transmission devices across various industries. For example, HarleyDavidson has replaced all its metal chains for Gates belts, in spite of the traditional image of motorcycles bearing roller chains. Gates identified demand from the automotive industry for a high performance, heavy-duty leather transmission belt that would withstand the tough demands of a car engine. The decision was taken to swap leather for rubber and the V-belt was born. The Gates philosophy of achieving change through innovation has remained a key driver ever since. Many of the products that Gates has launched, including the carbon belt now used by HarleyDavidson, have become a benchmark for different industries.

Recent innovation efforts have focused on different kinds of power transmission belts with new, high, performance materials that can last 180,000km instead of the standard 60,000km expected from regular belts. Gates proudly claims that some of its products last longer than the car itself. The company has also developed an antistatic system in the belt for the automotive and industrials sectors, as well as a rubber that conducts electricity. In this way, the company assures that better performance will not be accompanied by sparks or static electricity that could ultimately damage the car. Staying close to customers means not only working with the OEMs themselves, but also with mechanics, schools, and associations such as CEDVA. Gates provides methodologies, technical material, and training to enable users to better understand the benefits of the high quality products it manufactures and help owners improve vehicle efficiency. Gates also has an agreement in place with the CNT (National Confederation of Workshops) to support them with training, courses, and conferences. According to a survey of 42,000 mechanics active in Mexico, Gates achieved an 85% preference rate. The company has nationwide contracts with several large companies, including Grupo Toluca, Quintanilla, FEMSA, and Grupo Bimbo, representing more than 14,000 vehicles using Gates products.