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From the sparkly new to the well established,  SRAM’s roots in Taiwan run deep. Well, SRAM does have a long history of manufacturing on the island, but in this case a lot of that history belongs to Truvativ. After SRAM purchased the company in 2004, the facility remained and is now the hub of much of SRAM’s carbon fiber production. Of course many of the Truvativ products that are still being produced or have morphed into similar parts under the SRAM name are made here as well.

Jump inside for a quick spin through the facility…

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Technically serving as the second SRAM factory in Taiwan, the Truvativ facility has grown 10 times the original footprint. Located a short bus ride away from the Shen Kang factory we visited in part 1, the Truvativ factory seems more rural with a sprawling series of buildings flanked by rice fields and other industrial buildings.

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Not the most architecturally stunning complex on the outside, inside each corrugated metal building lies a streamlined production process based on manufacturing principles like TQM, TPM, and TPS. All of which are designed to create a process that relies on just-in-time inventory sourcing and ensures consistent quality.

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Like other carbon fiber production we’ve seen, it all starts in the cutting room – though on a fairly large scale.

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Raw sheets of carbon are cut from rolls stored in the walk-in freezer and then trimmed to precise dimensions by machine or by hand.

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For their cranksets, workers assemble 3 piece inner structures which are then carefully wrapped by an army of employees. We weren’t provided the specifics with how those structures are removed from the crank arms during manufacturing, but the result is a fully hollow carbon crank arm. In the background employees are wrapping the carbon plies around steerer tube and fork crown assemblies.

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Once all the raw carbon is put in place, all of the components are placed into heavy steel molds that are loaded into presses with multiple bays where the carbon fiber is cured.

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When the curing is complete, the molds are cracked open, and the carbon has taken shape but still needs a lot of work. Empty molds are sent to this giant cleaning machine where they are scrubbed free of any excess resin and put back into rotation.

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Once the carbon has emerged from the molds, what was generally a pretty clean process turns dusty in a hurry. First, excess resin is trimmed from the finished pieces by hand and file. Next, it’s a series of sanding and polishing done by hand or on large industrial grinders fitted with sanding wheels or wire brushes.

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Carbon components show up to the decal room smooth and ready for their final shine. Decals are installed by hand followed by a glossy clear coat to protect the carbon.

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Stepping into the Truvativ side of the factory, the battery of CNC machines turns out SRAM products like chainrings and aluminum cranks (after forging). Machinery ranges from fairly standard CNC workhorses to advanced CNC machines and lathes.

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I’ll never tire of seeing raw chunks of material turned into beautifully finished parts and a pile of chips.

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In yet another building, products are laser etched in house. This wall of examples gives an idea of just how many aluminum parts are manufactured here.

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GXP bottom brackets are manufactured here as well, with the manufacturing process a perfect example of SRAM’s cost savings implemented through automation. Assembly of the bottom bracket cups previously required 6 people and 75 seconds per piece. The new machine is operated by two people, and shortened the cycle time to 20 seconds.

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Other Truvativ parts and accessories like the Stevie Smith receive their finishing touches and are packed for shipping.

Even after three installments, hours of notes, memory cards worth of photos, and one long, impressively orchestrated day of tours, it’s hard to feel like we are not just barely scratching the surface of SRAM’s presence in Taiwan. Truly a giant in the bicycle world, they play an integral part in the A-Team’s supply chain that allows much of the bicycle industry’s production to function as it does. We’d like to thank SRAM’s Michael Zellman and David Zimberoff for organizing the tour, and can’t wait until we can visit again.

Factory Tour: SRAM’s Taiwanese Manufacturing Part 1 – RockShox Suspension, SRAM Drive Train, More

Factory Tour: SRAM Taiwan Part 2 – All New Asia Development Center

sram.com

 

21 COMMENTS

  1. 4th image to the end, her shirt says: “how television benefits your children” “Budweiser”

    Maybe some ironic shirt that found its way to Taiwan, but is trendy there because it has English on it.

  2. The people who work in this factory (and similar factories) must wonder WTF is wrong with us that we REQUIRE carbon fiber this an that for riding our bikes.

  3. T – I know a lot of people in Taiwan and the surrounding countries that ride the same high end mountain bikes that we ride in the US. Trust me, they get it.

  4. I’m going to speculate a little on the manufacturing process. I’ve seen an X.0 DH crankarm snap (on a badly 50/50 cased 20ft wide stepdown, JRA you know…) and I could see the Styrofoam core when inspecting both halves. The core for the crank arms is thus probably assembled from three parts, (I assume) elastic PU ends that look pink in the pics and a solid foam core that looks white in the pictures. The fibers are probably wrapped around both and PU ends are removed through the crankarm openings that later receive the metal BB and pedal inserts. The white foam core, though, probably remains inside the crank (unless they’ve changed the mfg process since I saw the inside of that crank).

    The foam might help with vibration damping, can’t think of another reason to leave it in. It would be easy to remove that to save another 20-50grams?

    I’d be intrigued to see how RaceFace goes about mfg’ing their SixC or Next SL cranks.

  5. Slightly off topic here, but the masks the workers are wearing while doing all that sanding and grinding of the carbon, not to mention I don’t see many safety glasses. Whew. Not sure that would pass OSHA standards here……. but I just digressed. Even with the economies of scale at work here it’s amazing how many man hours go into these “affordable” carbon parts. And I mean that affordable part seriously.

  6. Sean, I suspect that whoever is wearing a mask there is doing it of his/her own volition. Eyewear? Same. All those OSHA regs we observe in the US are just lawsuit avoidance.

    Oh. Nice bike parts. I’d happily take a whole bunch of them.

  7. @Sean P you are correct. Those masks do nothing. They need particulate filters (P95 or P100), those masks are more to prevent spread of germs.

  8. Some seriously misinformed comments here. Have any of you making such comments ever actually visited Asia? As a Brit now living and working in Asia, I csn tell you that Asian standards would shame the West in so many ways. For sure, some standards in deepest darkest China leave something to be desired, but Taiwan is a very modern country full of very skilled and lovely, efficient and well educated people, who (it might surprise you to hear) ride bikes for more than subsistence transport, have the ability to (and do) travel the world, and who happen to have a very strong work and family ethic that should have some of us feeling rather more humble than we do!

  9. Hunh. You’re probably right about the PRC and Taiwan. That’s funny because I’m an American living in America and I had to pass a test on Cal-OSHA air quality protection rules for the construction industry. And those masks are not industrial standard, as Andrew well knows. And I don’t see any protective eyewear, although regular glasses are enough for a pistol range in California. And I assure you, even with Cal OSHA enforcement, almost nobody wears any protective gear unless told to by management – for lawsuit avoidance or to keep insurance coverage. They (we) are just going by what we see.

  10. The work place itself is extremely clean and organized.

    To compare the workplace to anything in california is kinda silly,

    California the land of “things in this store are known to cause cancer”

  11. Every plant in Taiwan always looks the same. Green Floors, funny color looking totes and employees with English shirts. I have been traveling to Taiwan 50% of my time for the last 2-3 years and I love working with the people. It is funny to see a worker with an English shirt on, most of the time the person doesn’t know what it says but they like the design. I have had to send a couple people home from my plant because the shirt was inappropriate 😉

  12. Regarding to the grinding process, I found the factory have different equipment.
    For big burrs, the operator only have mask. However, when you see if there has a grinding wheel, the operator use higher standard mask. (The picture in the right side)It looks like N95 or higher ? Also , there has vacuum system exist. I guess this is the main reason that the production shop floor looks more clean than the other carbon factory or ?

  13. I don’t think anyone is saying that the working conditions in the photos are terrible or anything. Taiwan is a relatively advanced country and it’s manufacturing is top notch, as we all know.

    That being said, breathing in carbon fiber dust is horrifically bad for you, and really, those folks should have respirators on, and in any western country would be required to by their employer.

  14. En effet, les masques que les salariés portent ne sont pas appropriés. En France ces masques sont “FFP2” ils évitent le propagation par voie aérienne. Il faudrait au moins des “FFP3” pour protéger des poussières, mais surtout des cartouches contre les émanations de résine et des poussières. Les fibres de carbone, poussières et gaz des résines sont extremement dangereuses et cancérigène. NB: les poussières d’alu ne valent gère mieux. celles de bois non plus.

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