Hope Technology Factory Visit

Hope Technology Factory Visit

22/12/2014
Whatsapp
22/12/2014

Hope Technology are one of the well known after-market brands that specialise in hubs, stems, chain-rings, lights, and brakes to name but a few. Hope aims at producing high quality long lasting components that are made precisely in the Untied Kingdom, not in Taiwan. With a history that stretches back to the early 1990’s when they started they try to stay true to their principles and produce every small component in the UK.

 One of the best kept secrets of the bike industry.

One of the best kept secrets of the bike industry.

Their production facility is located in Barnoldswick near Manchester, in the heart of the Yorkshire Hills. Close by it is possible to find Rolls Royce and an whole host of other high end engineering companies. We visited Hope to have a look at how they produce their products and what happens on their production lines. Hope gave us a complete all access look at their way of life and dedication to mountain biking. Whilst we were there we felt the sense that Hope did what it believed in and was a cool company to work for, it felt like the Google or Apple of mountain biking.

 Introduction

IMG_8183

Hope apparently took over their current location a short while ago, all they had to do was move in and deck out the areas with a few bike bits.

IMG_8201

Out back next to the bubbling brook is a beer and barbque terrace and a pump track, (which is being extended). Before even starting the tour the buzz about this place is beginning to build.

IMG_8439

Once in the hall way, a history of Hope lines the walls.

IMG_8438

An early pace DH frame tricked out in hope.

IMG_8436

Redbull Formula 1 use hope brakes for their jack points for tyre changes.

IMG_8435

One of their first hub products made of titanium and owned by the journalist.

IMG_8432

More memories including Hope mechanical disc brakes.

IMG_8425

Tracey Molesy’s DH bike from a long while ago….

IMG_8423

The full mechanical disc brake system up close….

IMG_8197

Wandering around a bit more the beer fridge was full.

IMG_8196

The pool table was empty, employees at work, we were sure new products were discussed around a game of 8 ball.

IMG_8195

For those that like snooker there is this.

Research and Development

Hope can’t make new products without trying new ideas and finding out what works in the real world and what doesn’t. We had a look at their “Ideas” that were laying around the office and some of the machines to realise them.

IMG_8190

These guys like hubs, and wheels, and spend a lot of time making sure those distinctive clicks are always the same in the freewheel hubs.

IMG_8186

Hope uses 3d printing technology to realise ideas before they are put into production. This machine costs around 30,000 euros, and can print in 0.01mm layers.

IMG_8185

The walls all around the office areas contain pictures of staff who ride.

IMG_8194

Hope develops it’s own circuits with the help of outside companies and then assembles them locally. No made in China here.

IMG_8261

Once parts have been made they need to be checked under use. Here a brake system undergoes checks.

IMG_8265

This machine tests handle bar strengths and stems.

IMG_8264

Sometimes you find these R+D weapons lying around.

IMG_8345

This 3d machine can measure and compare a computer drawing to the finished product, and analyse how good the quality of the product is and how close to the intended design.

IMG_8348

New ideas are coming thick and fast including the use of Carbon, which is stored here.

IMG_8347

This 2d carbon plotter cuts shapes for being layed up, something Hope is now experimenting with.

Production

Hope focuses on efficiency when they look at producing their various products. Hope makes in house almost every single item they sell, save the cables for their lights, and rims from other brands for mounting on hubs. Even the tiniest bolts are made on their CNC machines. They have a huge number of machines that work 24 hours a day, cutting, grinding and polishing components to one of the highest quality finishes in the industry. Tolerances are as close as 2 microns in certain cases that keeps wear to a minimum and returns to once of the lowest in the industry.

We took a good look around at the machines and wondered how they came up with the idea to make everything, apparently there is a motto, “How hard can it be to make it ourselves?” The factory is layed out pretty broadly with no clear production line just machines grouped in various locations that complete particular tasks.

IMG_8259

This robot starts takes the forged hubs and inserts them into the cnc lathe for production.

IMG_8256

Hub insertion.

IMG_8229

This machine makes tools for the brake discs.

IMG_8233

Here the long axle segments are fed in one end of the machine.

IMG_8235

The axles are then turned and honed to perfection in here.

IMG_8236

Each axle is then hand tested so there is a 100 percent quality control pass on all axle components.

IMG_8245

One of the cast hubs before cnc work.

IMG_8248

This machine also cnc works hubs but is slightly slower than the robotic arm machine.

IMG_8226

The finished product is significantly smaller than the original base material.

IMG_8221

These machines on the right are used for CNC milling work, apparently Apple computer uses the same machines as Hope, except they have 20,000 of them for machining Iphone 6 chasis’s.

IMG_8220

These CNC machines have 32 pallets in them that allow them to process huge numbers of batches. They are also completely tooled up so that each machine only needs to be reprogrammed not retooled.

IMG_8218

This is a brake that has been machined down from the forged material.

IMG_8215

Hubs are ready to be polished.

IMG_8214

These brake callipers are ready to be polished.

IMG_8211

This is some of the material that the parts start from.

IMG_8208

This is some of the material that the parts start from which are already part formed.

IMG_8271

Hope makes all it’s small parts including small bolts.

IMG_8273

The bolts start off like this in a Swiss made lathe.

IMG_8277

They then finish like this.

IMG_8284

A small part being made.

IMG_8286

Next along the line is the freehub body cutting machine.

These free hubs are lined up for a closer final inspection.

These free hubs are lined up for a closer final inspection.

Free hub pawls are cut by wire in one pass.

Free hub pawls are cut by wire in one pass.

WM8J8208

Brake discs are cut out by laser.

IMG_8317

One part of production which is essential when using alloy and steel parts is heat treatment. Here brake discs are pre-heated and pressed.

IMG_8313

A robot takes a disc out of the oven.

IMG_8300

This lathe is used for making new tools that are used in the production process.

IMG_8329

Here a floating disc is assembled.

IMG_8333

Each rivet is pressed into place.

IMG_8340

Parts are made on a just in time basis. Here the latest batches of spiders are ready for assembly.

IMG_8353

The polishing process is carried out with a machine that throws walnut shells at the metal to smooth off any imperfections.

IMG_8362

Here parts are tumbled around in order to smooth them off.

IMG_8367

Most parts are uncoloured until they are need.

IMG_8370

Highly polished hubs are ready.

The Anodising Process

Hope keeps their colouring process in house and has gone from 2000 parts per week up to 80,000 parts per week.

IMG_8371

Small parts are prepared for being anodised.

IMG_8373

Tanks with electrodes and different colour acids are held at a stable temperature for colour consistency.

IMG_8379

A laser etches the logos onto the parts.

IMG_8389

Laser etching in progress.

Parts and Assembly

Parts are put together in the final assembly area, where a final quality control pass takes place.

WM8J8186

Once ready all parts are gathered for final assembly.

IMG_8416

Small parts are all ready to go. Every axle has been checked by hand, and is part of the reason why Hope hubs have a long life.

IMG_8414

Brakes are bled here and put together.

IMG_8413

How much stopping power is here?

IMG_8395

Hope has these super cool automatic truing machines.

IMG_8392

Laced wheels are fed in one end.

IMG_8400

They are then quickly checked for final tension and put in boxes.

IMG_8415

This is where everything finishes before it reaches dealers.

Random’s

A few random last shots from around and about in the factory.

IMG_8418

Some parts end up on the Factory Racing team bikes which are prepared here.

All waste is 100 percent recycled. They even use cooling liquid that is 10x more expensive but has no smell.

All waste is 100 percent recycled. They even use cooling liquid that is 10x more expensive but has no smell.

WM8J8216

Humour is everywhere.

WM8J8217

A Steve Mcqueen replica Triumph, whose toy is it?

WM8J8187

Is this spider saying don’t run away?

WM8J8188

A smile is present on every workers face for sure, it was an amazing working atmosphere.

IMG_8266

Everyone gets a bike to ride at Hope, with this one waiting for being tricked up with lots of Hope components.

There is no doubt that Hope Tech is one of the best places one could probably work in the mountain bike industry. It has fun, serious work, and innovation in a nice environment as it’s core value, plus it manages to keep production on shore, under control, with constant reinvestment and development, including the development of a new pump track in addition to the one they already have, they are also working on a Velo drome which they will start building soon, we are definitely going back for another visit!

www.hopetech.com