Gear Production

SEP 2015

Gear Production

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8—GEAR Production Supplement F E A T U R E Global Gear & Machining LLC, call 630-969-9400 or visit Liebherr Gear Technology Inc., call 734-429-7225 or visit ships its parts—including spur gears, shafts, helical gears, pulleys and couplings, and related precision machined components—throughout North America and Europe. Its gears range in size from 25 to 300 mm, widths to 150 mm, and modules up to 8. Weathering the Storms Global Gear is now seeing the results of its restructuring efforts. Thanks to its embrace of new technologies—particularly in grinding— the company is now involved in completely new business relationships. "We're providing gears for automotive transfer cases because of grinding, and it also allowed us to get involved in the transmission gear business and to get into agriculture, which is a market we hadn't been active in before," Mr. Ooyen says. Some of the payoffs are a little less tangible, however. By the very nature of its business model—or the one Global Gear followed, at least—a captive shop excels at making a few things exceptionally well for a single customer. Branching out awakens a company's entrepreneurial drive. "Instead of focusing on playing one particular company, you get the opportunity to learn about other industries, to see how their operation works and start thinking creatively about how you can play a role in their success," Mr. Rapciak says. "You get to learn about new manufacturing techniques, machining processes and applications you've never encountered before. It helps us build our knowledge base so that we can be more effective in working with all of our customers." In summing up lessons learned over the past nine years, the Global Gear team's experience provides a good example to any manufacturing company interested in diversifying its market base, expanding its capabilities, and staying at the leading edge of current gear machining technologies: Global Gear's Liebherr LSE 380 shaping machine brings a process in house that was formerly subcontracted out, building on the company's core competencies. • Take an inventory of your equipment to determine your capabilities. • Decide whether or not they are adequate to meet your strategic goals. • Take the time to learn about the current state of machining technologies. • Make capital investments based on your fndings and the parts you want to make. • Seek out equipment suppliers that provide in-house training, technical expertise and service beyond the point of sale, and begin building relationships with them. • Train your own staff—you can't expect to easily fnd experienced operators anymore. • Write a detailed business plan explaining your process, goals, machining capabilities and shipping strategies to share with potential customers, displaying a clear vision of your company and its strengths. • Be sure that no one market or customer represents more than a certain percentage of your annual revenue. The last point, in particular, is especially relevant. "I've seen companies that relied too heavily on one market, or one customer, and when the economy faltered, they ended up going out of business because they didn't have a backup plan. You have to be able to ride out that storm," Mr. Ooyen says. "It's going to come, you just have to fnd a way to ride through it."

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