Customers of Forest City Gear, an American Machinist 10 Best Shop, always expect the shop to lead the way in devising new production techniques for making gears better and at more-competitive costs, as well as provide superior customer service. It’s a tall order, but one the shop welcomes.
To maintain its industry-wide reputation, Forest City Gear has reinvested an average between 25 percent and 40 percent of its annual revenue for the last 30 years in the purchase of gearmaking machinery and ancillary equipment.
Over the past 20 or so months, the shop has invested more than $6 million in the purchase of new capital equipment. In addition, it has invested in green technology.
Fred Young, chief executive officer at Forest City Gear, explained that the shop’s strategy in purchasing new, high-technology equipment is that it generally affords the shop higher quality, service, and training from its suppliers, but also because the shop realizes better performance, lower maintenance requirements, better trade-in value and more substantial depreciation allowances.
“We never wait until we get an order to buy machines with enhanced capability. We already have it and have developed it before we start exploring new opportunities. That’s a real advantage for us,” Young said. Recent equipment purchases include:
• A Gleason PSA 500 gear shaper with electronic helical guide that eliminates the need for helical lead guides and a Gleason PSA 300 gear shaper.
• Fellows/Bourn & Koch MS450-125 CNC gear shapers with radial crowning and electronic helical guideless shaping.
• Koepfer 200 CNC 7-axis gear hobbers with automatic loading and a Koepfer MZ130 CNC 5,000-rpm gear hobber with auto-loading and worm-gear milling high-helix hob head.
• A Hofler Helix 400 SK gear grinder that uses a 20-mm-diameter CBN wheel.
• A Samputensili RI 400 CNC 5-axis twin generating and form gear grinder with linear motors and a Samputensili RI 375 CNC gear and thread grinder.
• Wenzel Gear Tec LH87 CMM with rotary table and a Wenzel Gear Tec WGT 600 CNC analytical checker with air-bearing technology.
• Mitutoyo Digimatic Model HDS H24C height gages.
• A Sunnen SV1005 automated honing machine.
• Two Kellenberger Kel-Vista Type UR Model 175-600 universal cylindrical grinders.
• A Centric Senjo Seike PLC 101SAII automatic chamfering machine with swivel.
• Hurco VM1 machining centers.
• Jenfab Mini Belt in-line cellular spray washer/dryer.
• Star/Su PTG-1 hob and shaper cutter sharpener.
• Retrofit on an isotropic superfinishing REM tumbler.
• An Oberlin filtration system with chiller.