News & Media

Alcon braking systems to be part of Patria’s breakthrough into widening military markets

February 17, 2020

Patria, a global market leader in the production of armoured wheeled vehicles, have been selected with their 6×6 platform to be part of a joint programme to develop sustained mobility enhancement for the Finnish and Latvian Armies. Alcon Components Ltd, world-class specialists in brake and clutch systems, is the principal supplier of braking components for Patria’s heavy armoured vehicle range, and specifically the Patria 6×6.

Alcon has worked closely with Patria to determine the specific requirements aligned to vehicle specification, usage profiles and operating environment; developing a bespoke braking system to match the needs of high-performance defence vehicles. With the exceptional performance of Patria’s wheeled vehicle range creating conditions close to that of a rally car in terms of disc and pad temperature cycling, Alcon were able to draw on their pedigree of providing braking solutions for the top echelons of motorsport to develop exclusive calliper and disc mounting concepts for Patria; a fusion of those seen on heavy commercial vehicles and high-performance motorsport.

The Patria 6×6 is acknowledged as being unrivalled in performance and mobility, setting new standards for all future armoured wheeled vehicles. Reliability is underlined by the multitude of commercial components used in the vehicle. Commercial components, long life-span and easy maintenance make the vehicle extremely cost-efficient; ideally matching the Finnish-Latvian programme’s aim to develop a common armoured wheeled vehicle system with enhanced mobility, cost-efficiency, interoperability and security of supply.
Alcon braking solutions have been sought out by some of the world’s finest defence industry vehicle OEMs. Amongst 18 defence and security equipment OEMs currently using or assessing Alcon systems, as well as Patria, Supacat, the designers of the Jackal, BAe, Ricardo and Jankel have turned to Alcon to deliver bespoke braking systems that fully meet the demanding requirements of the challenging, high-performance, modern-day battlefield.

Mr. Janne Räkköläinen, Vice President Vehicles, at Patria Land said: “Our 6×6 vehicle is designed to be operated in all conditions and it needs to deliver the solid performance throughout the various missions and operations. In addition to the performance, braking systems are safety critical elements of the vehicle so the complete reliability and fulfilment of requirements are top priority for us. We know we can rely on Alcon’s support and performance”.

Jonathan Edwards, Group Sales Director at Alcon said: “Alcon’s previous selection by Patria is an unqualified confirmation of Alcon’s status as a company that provides the finest bespoke braking systems to the global defence markets. We’re delighted that the Patria 6×6 has been selected for this programme and we look forward to a continued strong relationship with Patria as the programme evolves.” He added: “It is a key strategic company aim for Alcon to become the first-choice braking system supplier to defence vehicle companies across the globe. This recent announcement underlines our ability to deliver and become exactly that.”

What is L-TAC?

January 23, 2020

Spectra SlingShot® and Inmarsat L-TAC™: a unique partnership.

Spectra Group and Inmarsat-Global-Government have established a remarkable and successful partnership between their two complementary technologies. SlingShot and L-TAC. The combination allows users to augment and expand their existing tactical communications systems without the need to modify radio hardware or cryptography and in the knowledge that the channel is available where and when required. L-TAC channels are available on flexible leasing, from a month, and so can prove far more cost-efficient and flexible than comparable options. Working uniquely together, SlingShot and L-TAC offer a combination of reliable voice and data connectivity, independent of local infrastructure, and available globally for vehicle-mounted and man-portable, land, maritime and air communications systems. Additionally, the SlingShot hardware is easy-to-use, requires minimal training and is highly cost-effective, in that it utilises in-service radio equipment.

Click here to read the full article on the Spectra Group website.



Alcon launch their latest AAC03 brake-by-wire system to coincide with Autosport International 2020

January 9, 2020


alcon AAC03 BBW

Alcon Components Ltd, a world-leader in the design and manufacture of ultra-high-performance brake and clutch systems, are unveiling their latest AAC03 brake-by-wire technology to coincide with Europe’s number 1 motorsport show, Autosport International, held at the NEC Birmingham 9-12 January 2020.

Alcon’s first brake-by-wire system, AAC01, was developed in 2016 primarily for use in Formula E and was nominated for the Most Innovative New Motorsport Product of the Year by the World Motorsport Symposium. Building on this early success, Alcon have continued development of the system alongside several high profile programs and combined all learning to offer a significantly enhanced package, the AAC03; a product that is not just world-class, but world-beating.

Therefore AAC03 is not simply a refinement of the AAC01; it is in fact a bold new product design developed in close collaboration with top-level motorsport suppliers and contractors selected for their expertise and innovation in high performance electronic control and hydraulic actuation systems.

The AAC03 BBW system is a standalone, off-the-shelf solution built to satisfy the exacting demands of a Formula E race car in all conditions. Consisting of an integrated hydraulic power pack, servo valve-actuated active circuit and fail-safe manual backup circuit, the AAC03 is safe, robust, reliable and incredibly efficient. Using cutting edge manufacturing technology along with the integrated ECU and fully enclosed wiring, Alcon has strived to simplify, integrate and shave every gram from the system. Indeed, the AAC03 boasts significant weight reductions and increases in performance and usability over its predecessors.

Reliability and consistency of performance across the full range of use is assured by Alcon’s comprehensive development and testing processes. Individual components are continuously refined through hundreds of hours of testing over a range of environmental conditions that include extremes of temperature and vibration at maximum duty cycle.

AAC03 will be available for adoption in advance of Formula E Season 7. To ensure that their customers get the most from this technology, Alcon offer a full training session for the front-line team who will be working with the unit. The team will gain a practical understanding of how the system operates, including instruction in the installation and operational processes. Courses will be held at Alcon’s HQ with further details given on request.

Spectra Group (UK) awarded 2019 Queen’s Award for Enterprise

October 29, 2019


Last week, Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Herefordshire, The Dowager Countess Darnley, presented Spectra Group (UK) with the highly prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise.  The ceremony took place at Spectra’s headquarters and was attended by Major Patrick Darling, Deputy Lord-Lieutenant of Herefordshire;; Councillor David Hitchiner, Leader of Herefordshire Council; Sharon Smith, CEO, H&W Chamber of Commerce; Mark Armitage, Senior Director of International Trade, H&W Chamber of Commerce; as well as Members of UK MOD and a host of proud Spectra staff.

The Queen’s Award is highly contested and is a noteworthy recognition of the outstanding commercial success that Spectra has achieved with their revolutionary device, SlingShot®.  Along with the commemorative trophy, Spectra were presented with the official Grant of Appointment, given permission to use the Queen’s Award emblem and to fly The Queen’s Award flag at their main office.

SlingShot is a lightweight device that delivers game-changing capabilities to existing military and civilian radio networks.  When connected to military or commercial UHF/VHF radios, Slingshot extends their range from under 50 miles to potentially 1000s of miles by utilising the commercial satellite network.  The system works by simply converting standard radio signals to the frequency used by commercial satellites and is the only product of its type to enable beyond line-of-sight voice and data communications whilst the user is on the move. It also enables interoperability between agencies using different radio systems, without degradation by environmental factors such as weather, terrain and vegetation, delivering increased safety and security with improved flexibility and effectiveness.

Spectra’s innovation stemmed from a realisation in 2012 that there was a previously unutilised capability of the Inmarsat geostationary satellite network that would have huge potential in both military and commercial sectors. Within a year of working closely with Inmarsat, a working concept was developed and approved for use by the British military; versatile enough to be used in aircraft, vehicles, maritime platforms and by individuals on the ground. Spectra has since gone on to successfully market SlingShot internationally for military and non-military use, such as emergency services and disaster-relief, with a capability that has proved to be of critical importance and has undoubtedly contributed to the saving of lives.

Simon Davies, CEO of Spectra Group said: “I am extremely proud of what the staff at Spectra have achieved.  This award is the greatest validation of our work; it’s a huge recognition and a ‘thank you’ to my team who have worked tirelessly to develop and produce our remarkable SlingShot technology”. He added, “Working on the design and building a business that supplies a product with the ability to revolutionise communications globally, not only for soldiers but also emergency services and disaster-relief agencies, is immensely satisfying.  As a former soldier in the Royal Corps of Signals, knowing that lives are being saved is incredibly motivating for me and my team.”

Alcon Brakes – specialist design and state-of-the-art testing regimes key to producing ultra-high performance braking systems

October 11, 2019


Alcon, winner of the prestigious MIA Business of the Year Award 2018, is a designer and manufacturer of ultra-high quality brake, clutch and other automotive components.  With wide-ranging clients internationally, each with bespoke, specialist requirements, Alcon’s expertise ranges from the production of tiny brake-by-wire controllers for Formula E racing cars to high-strength callipers required to stop 35 tonnes of armoured vehicle.

Looking specifically at the Defence market, brake discs and calipers are often procured from separate companies; a system that fails to acknowledge the critical importance of the relationship between these two components.  Separation in the design of the two can, not only lead to reduced performance, but also conflicts between supplier and customer.  Where Alcon excel is the simultaneous design and development of caliper and disc, creating a unified system.  With refinements in materials, design and specification of caliper, pad and disc as a system, Alcon succeed in reducing disc temperatures, and thus the potential for brake failure, as well as cutting down the noise produced by their braking systems.

Extensive testing regimes have proven that friction performance and stability is best achieved through specific combinations of pad and disc materials.  Alcon’s engineers create a design around their client’s specification, then carry out Finite Element Analysis to simulate high loads and temperatures.  As well as making sure that the disc will not fail, this detailed analysis is also used to reduce disc coning and deflection to acceptable levels.  Alcon’s discs are twin-turned to reduce DTV (disc thickness variation) at their latest, high-tech machining centres.

Alcon carry out specific dynamometer tests for strength, cracking and deflection, as well as friction performance, with a new NVH dynamometer allowing their R&D team to detect, measure and solve brake noise and vibrations during the development phase of a new product. The dynamometer utilises state-of-the-art technology to closely simulate actual operating conditions.  The test chamber environment is highly regulated; with temperatures ranging from 20°C – 50°C and humidity from 10 to 95 percent. The dynamometer also features low speed / stationary operation and wet test operation.  Alcon has one of only 2 NVH dynamometers in the UK, and when not in use for Alcon’s own research, they make the test facility available to OEMs requiring its services.

The common factor in everything that Alcon does is their no-compromise approach to engineering excellence.  As required, costs can be reduced through tooling investment for higher volume programmes. However, Alcon are also able to support low volume programmes without tooling investment through their range of standard castings; these can have a billet-machined bell bolted to them to make a bespoke design with integral mounting bell.

Already well-established in the defence sector, Alcon have designed, manufactured and delivered bespoke braking solutions for some of the world’s leading Special Forces and armoured vehicle manufacturers, including Patria, Supacat, BAe, Ricardo and Jankel.  From armoured SUVs to the largest military combat vehicles, their brake solutions are designed and built to the highest specification, developed to withstand the harshest and most demanding of environments encountered on the battlefield, whilst providing exceptional braking performance and reliability. They have off-the-shelf solutions available for a range of brake upgrades or, with their state-of-the-art design and testing capabilities, can design a bespoke solution to absolutely meet the most demanding of needs.