BILA TSERKVA, Ukraine — The plight of Ukraine has captured the attention, interest and concern of the world since war broke out several months ago. The BRAKE Report asked Belotserkovsky zavod Tribo, a manufacturer of friction materials, to provide a look at its history as well as its operations during these challenging times. TRIBO has been producing brake pads since 1979 for both rail and commercial vehicles. Their client portfolio includes companies like the Irish Railways, Siemens, Bombardier.

This is the first of two parts of the article prepared by TRIBO.

The topic about Ukraine, although under sad circumstances, is currently the headliner of all news in the world. We offer a short review about TRIBO’s plant, one of the largest manufacturers in Eastern Europe, which makes friction products for the railway industry of Ukraine.

The importance, indispensability and inviolability of the Ukrainian railway became especially noticeable during the war both in strategic aspects – transportation of weapons, supplies, raw materials and humanitarian – evacuation of people from places, which may transform into a battlefield any time. In addition, the UZ (Ukrainian Railway) infrastructure is not the last in the world of railway transportation: the length of the railway track of UZ ranks as 14th in the world and 4th in Europe:

Regarding the brake systems and types of brake shoes used on the rolling stock of the Ukrainian Railways (and most other countries of the former Soviet Union), there are huge differences from the world trends, but there are also some meaningful achievements.

For example, regarding the type of brake shoes for freight wagons, while most European countries are still in the process of substituting cast iron technology, 100 percent of freight cars operating in Ukraine are equipped with asbestos-free composite brake shoes with a high friction level.

Back in 1967, the railway companies of the USSR began the active use of substitution for cast iron brake shoes. Historically, there was a significant shortage of cast iron in the USSR (now we understand that cast iron was more important for military purposes) and its use for brake shoes was an inaffordable luxury.

Therefore, in order to produce composite brake shoes for wagons, in 1979 in Bila Tserkva “BTZ Tribo” launched its factory (at that moment it was Asbestos Products Factory). In the USSR it was the only friction plant outside Russia. During its establishment, production capacity was calculated in such a way that the plant could successfully satisfy the demand for composite brake shoes throughout the USSR “if the USA started shelling all other plants in Russia during a military conflict.”

Put into series production in 1967 (in 1979 at Tribo) brake shoe 25610-N was, obviously, made of asbestos. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, “BTZ Tribo” lost the “license” to manufacture brake shoe 25610-N and therefore the company had to develop its analog 2TP-11, at first it was asbestos as well, and eventually was substituted with an asbestos-free 2TP-11-01.

Nowadays, the Ukrainian Railways use composite friction products that do not contain asbestos or heavy metals, which was more a requirement of the market rather than a government regulation.

In the next installment of this review of TRIBO operations, the company’s primary products will be featured.