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Using CNC technology on advanced machine tools helps company sell its products worldwide
Roscoe, Illinois is home to many more gear companies than your average town of 10,000 people, but the reason is obvious. During the peak of the machine tool boom in nearby Rockford, it was critical to have these important components made locally. Over the years, that market has changed and so have the gear companies here, each taking its expertise in other directions to offset the decline in local machine tool building.
Forest City Gear Inc. took a different track to remain competitive globally. As Fred Young, CEO of the company, which was founded in 1955 explains, “We decided long ago to do two things. First, to make the very best fine and medium coarse pitch gears in the world, and to do so by using the best machines, people and quality assessment practices possible. Second and just as important, we became committed to reinvesting our company’s profits in newer and better machinery, based on the global standards and the ongoing technical advancements made by machine tool builders around the world.”
This precision gear and spline maker performs nearly every aspect of production in-house, including blanking, turning, hobbing, shaping, milling, gear grinding with form wheels and generating grinding, thread grinding, broaching, honing, straightening, laser marking, magnetic particle inspection, metal-etching, CMM, hardness testing and final surface inspection. Forest City Gear continues to subcontract heat treating and plating. The blanking department, though relatively new, has been expanded several times to keep pace with increasing production. The company boasts nearly every leading brand of gearmaking machine tool on the world market, because, as Young puts it, “We really do put our money where our mouth is, to use that old expression. In a typical year, we invest between 25 and 40 percent of our gross sales back into better gear machines and metrology.”
Among the most advanced gearmaking machines in this shop are four Gleason shapers, two Samputensili grinders (form and generating style) plus a Hoefler gear grinder. All these machines have something in common.
At the heart of any machine tool, of course, is the CNC that drives it, controls the motion, detects and integrates all the cutting parameters, feeding back that information to the computer logic of the control to ensure the part being made is as close as possible to the programmed specifications. Meanwhile, the ergonomic or operator-to-machine interaction must always be considered, because a control that’s too difficult to learn and use will result in substantial and costly delays in production. While Forest City Gear has the classic mix of longtime and newer employees, who all bring a variety of computer knowledge and machining skills to the job, this company has consistently sought the most advanced equipment on the market, as part of its “Excellence Without Exception” motto and its practical desire to stay ahead of the competition in the global gear market.
The control on these machines at Forest City Gear is the Sinumerik 840D from Siemens with specialized gear software. As Young explains, “The extensive gear software developments available are quite remarkable. Most have been a cooperative venture between a machine builder, the CNC builder and folks like us. The result has been software that’s specific to hobbing, shaping, gear grinding and thread grinding.” He also notes features of the Siemens CNC that have yielded positive impacts on the production at Forest City Gear, including “…sophisticated executive software for all machine movements and the fast program reading that allow us to cut and grind much faster, with more options such as reverse direction, segment cutting and combined operations, when compared to other controls we see.”
Typically, the CNC is used for all axis, rotary and spindle movements and the machine operators particularly appreciate the multiple standard cycles for cutting with degressive feeds, increasing speeds plus special cycles for gear tooth removal and reversing directions to improve finish or reduce cutter wear.
Forest City Gear cuts a wide variety of standard and exotic materials in the production of its gears and splines. These include titanium, Inconel, 4340, 300M, Vascomax 250 and 300, Nitralloy 135M, 9310, 4150, 4140, 8620, aluminum bronze, 13-8, 15-5, 17-4, 316 and 440 stainless, Hastelloy, Ferrium and numerous thermoplastics. The shop can carbide rehob to 60-62 RC and gear grind at all hardnesses.
Kevin Chatfield, a longtime Forest City Gear employee with 20 years’ CNC machine experience, works with the Samputensili grinders and says, “I’ve used all the brands of controls we have here… and for many jobs, no other control can do what the Siemens 840D can do. One example would be the internal, external and form-grinding I do on the Samputensili machine. If the other controls could perform these operations at all, which is doubtful, it would be a very slow process.”
Mark Cunningham, a 12-year veteran of CNC, runs the Gleason machines and notes the controls are very user-friendly. “The screens are easy-to-program and modify, then you get a clear picture of what’s happening at every step in the cycle. The precision is so good, we sometimes need to ‘lie” to the program to get what we want from the machine.”
Brian Turnbull, a newcomer to Forest City Gear, but a longtime machinist, had worked with a competing brand to Siemens CNC and was initially hesitant. “Then, as soon as I saw the easy layout, plus how quickly it could be set-up and go into action, with no trouble navigating at all, I was convinced Siemens was simply a better control.”
Young notes one last point about the CNCs on these machines. “These machine tools produce our most complex parts, including helical splines and internal gears most other shops simply cannot or will not make. The cycle and program read times on the Siemens controls are critical to our production work, plus these are the most expensive machines in the shop, so their run-time cost is the highest.” He adds, “Most of our jobs, though not all, here are short runs on very expensive materials. If the machine takes too long to complete the first part or has repeat rejects, we lose money — it’s that simple. I’m proud to say that neither our operators nor our production supervisors allow that to happen. And the controls on the machines are a big reason why we stay so successful in achieving that accuracy and consistently good part production at Forest City Gear.”
The company has remained among the leaders in the market for high-precision gears, owing to this strategy of buying the best machines, hiring the best gearmakers available and verifying the output of this 100-person shop by using the power of the industry’s leading quality lab, which occupies a cleanroom-level environment in the middle of the factory. As Young explains, “We do checking of our gears and splines at various test stations located throughout the shop, but the final proof resides in our quality lab. Our equipment is so sophisticated, even our competitors often bring us their work to have it checked. It’s one of the things that’s led to our current customer base of about 400 companies, about twenty percent of whom are other gear companies or gear producers themselves.”
For more information on this story, please contact:
SIEMENS INDUSTRY, INC.
MACHINE TOOL BUSINESS
390 Kent Avenue
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Attention: John Meyer, Manager, Marketing Communication
Siemens Industry Sector is the world’s leading supplier of innovative and environmentally friendly products, solutions and services for industrial customers. With end-to-end automation technology and industrial software, solid vertical-market expertise, and technology-based services, the sector enhances its customers’ productivity, efficiency and flexibility. With a global workforce of more than 100,000 employees, the Industry Sector comprises the Industry Automation, Drive Technologies and Customer Services Divisions as well as the Metals Technologies Business Unit. For more information, visit http://www.usa.siemens.com/industry.
The Siemens Drive Technologies Division is the world’s leading supplier of products, systems, applications, solutions and services for the entire drive train, with electrical and mechanical components. Drive Technologies serves all vertical markets in the production and process industries as well as the infrastructure/energy segment. With its products and solutions, the division enables its customers to achieve productivity, energy efficiency and reliability. For more information, visit http://www.usa.siemens.com/drivetechnologies.Continue reading
FOREST CITY GEAR EXPANDS BLANKING DEPARTMENT
Leading gear manufacturer acquires three new Haas turning centers to produce “donuts” for its gearmaking operations
Roscoe, IL-Forest City Gear has acquired three Haas turning centers to improve the throughput at its gearmaking facility. The company has made this investment, according to President Wendy Young, “…because we needed to better control our throughput and reduce the time to start up jobs. We were experiencing some severe delays from outside vendors and we saw problems on the horizon from such bottlenecks. Our company is always on the lookout for such conditions, because both our quality and our delivery protocols are vital to our success with current and potential customers in the world market.” These new machines will be used in the company’s Blanking Department, headed by Tommy Kalt, who detailed the new machines.
“We purchased a Haas ST-10 Turning Center with a magazine bar feeder, 300 PSI high-pressure coolant system and automatic tool presetter. It’s a fast, very flexible and very easy-to-use machine tool.” This machine, as well as two Haas ST-20 Turning Centers with 8” chuck and 20-station hybrid turret, fully programmable tailstock and high-pressure coolant pump, are currently operating in the Forest City Gear facility to produce “donuts” from automatically fed bar stock. These donuts are the near net shape blanks used in the gearmaking operation here. As a custom producer of extremely tight tolerance gears for the most demanding applications, according to company CEO Fred Young, “We need to have optimum control of our operation, at every step. Our company today exports gears to every corner of the world and our rigorous quality standards require a number of intermediate steps, prior to shipment. If the blanks are not available and our production is delayed, the entire operation slows and we simply will not allow that to happen,” Young stated emphatically.
Kalt expands on the ST-10. “It has a manual, programmable tailstock for shaft work, another real advantage in our type of shop, where we do a lot of splines in addition to gears. Plus, the Haas CNC system is very easy to learn and to use. It has simple language commands and most operations can be done with the push of a button. I like to say it has an American-made feel to it. The work area is open, the tooling is easy to change and the learning curve was really short for our guys. They were up and making good parts almost immediately.” He noted that the performance of the first machine led quickly to the purchase of the two additional Haas ST-20 turning machines. Kalt also cited the ECO CNC system on the Haas machines, with minimal lubrication requirements and auto-power down features were in sync with the Forest City Gear green initiative programs, as a further value to this purchase.
On the business side, Wendy Young was very satisfied with the cooperation of the Haas sales and delivery team. “We were treated fairly and the support has been first-rate, right from the start. We already see the benefits of this purchase to our company.”
For more information on this story, please contact: FOREST CITY GEAR CO., INC. 11715 Main Street Roscoe, IL 61073-0080 Phone: 815-623-2168 Fax: 815-623-6620 Web: www.forestcitygear.com
Email: email@example.com Attention: Wendy Young, President
PR agency contact for Forest City Gear: Tim Daro Bernard & Company 847-934-4500 firstname.lastname@example.orgContinue reading
13-year-old student visits Forest City Gear to explore career options; meets many women already succeeding in “a man’s world”
Roscoe, IL-Forest City Gear frequently opens its doors to visitors, usually from customer and prospect companies, as well as international trade associations, the media, vendors and occasionally competitors. Company owners Fred and Wendy Young have always believed this policy was beneficial to the visitors, who see some of the industry’s finest gearwork, produced and validated for quality on absolute state-of-the-technology, world-class equipment.
On March 30, 2011, however, another visitor came to tour Forest City Gear with a slightly different agenda. 13-year-old Alexi Cluff, accompanied by her grandfather Brian Cluff, vice president of Star-SU, a leading supplier of gearmaking machinery and tools, visited Forest City Gear to learn about manufacturing and especially to explore the options for women in manufacturing, an environment traditionally thought to be “a man’s world.”
Alexi is not your typical 13-year-old. She is currently enrolled in a program sponsored by a grant from the Motorola Foundation and conducted at the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology at Northern Illinois University. The program is a workshop in partnership with NIU-Enhanced Engineering Pathways, the Society of Women Engineers and the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois. The stated objective of the program is to challenge and sharpen the skills of accelerated learning for 12- and 13-year-old girls selected by their local middle school science and math teachers. Currently, 48 girls work in small groups, assisted and taught by NIU women engineering professors and women engineers from various industries. These instructors mentor the girls on various engineering projects, from the building of simple electrical circuits to create sound, motion and light, to bridge building, chemical engineering and lean manufacturing simulation. The groups meet on Saturday mornings on the NIU Napervillie (IL) campus and also attend a summer camp, held each June.
Often, the groups or individual students have tours arranged for them at local area manufacturing locations such as electronics and communications giant Motorola, where they can absorb “real world” experiences and especially meet women of all ages who have succeeded in the various disciplines required in a manufacturing environment. Since Alexi’s grandfather had a long working relationship with Forest City Gear, he reached out to Fred and Wendy Young to arrange a tour. The Young’s obliged, giving the young lady a complete tour of their factory and quality lab, plus arranging a roundtable discussion with a number of the women at the company, who perform all categories of activity for Forest City Gear. A world leader in precision gear manufacturing, Forest City Gear has an international reputation for “excellence without exception,” which happens to be the motto of the company.
Women from all departments of the company, including application engineering, human resources, gear grinding, gear deburring, gear hobbing, order processing, estimating, expediting, procurement, materials inspection, quality validation, machine set-up and company management were at the table. Alexi’s eyes and ears were wide open, as she listened attentively to every word.
Seated at the table for Forest City Gear, in addition to Wendy Young, president, were Kika Young, Geneva Parr, Mary McClellan, Krista King, Sharyl Stewart, Lori Lovett and Ingrid West. These women are involved in literally every aspect of the company. As Mary McClellan mentioned, “We touch the products at every step of the process, especially me (in gear deburring), because of my little fingers!” These women were unanimous in their advice to Alexi Cluff. “Always be willing to learn more, never be afraid to speak up with your ideas, bring all your skills to the job, every day, and don’t hesitate for ask for directions…something men never do!” They all had a good laugh.
Alexi said, “I’ve always been interested in making things and finding out how they work,” a sentiment her grandfather echoed. “I started making gears when I was 14 and it’s fascinated me, ever since.” If there’s anything to that old adage about the genes skipping a generation, perhaps the gear industry will have another Cluff in its future!
At the end of the roundtable, Forest City Gear CEO Fred Young had some comments. He detailed the difference in the European education model, where there’s considerably more encouragement given to young women to explore any and every working option. In America, he noted, “Our greatest strength came from manufacturing, the basic ability to make things better and faster than anybody else. The value-added service of making something from raw materials is what builds a nation’s wealth and makes us more self-reliant. Letting go of manufacturing would be a big mistake. By learning and using the technology we develop, as well as what we can gather from other countries, we’ll make America a stronger nation and more successful, in the long run.”
Following the visit, her grandfather remarked to Forest City Gear President Wendy Young, “Alexi was excited and, on the way home, quite animated. The sharing time with your ladies impressed her immensely. She has been journaling her observations. She told us in the car on the way back home that the very first class she had at the NIU workshop for girls was a hands-on exercise in lean simulation and that what she saw at Forest City Gear, from the way the routing sheets, bar codes and processing were set up, that you obviously have implemented lean manufacturing practices! As she downloads, processes and articulates what she saw and observed, she has already started to ask me questions about gear geometry. Such sweet candy to this old grandpa!”
In reviewing the NIU program and the comments above, perhaps it’s possible Alexi Cluff actually IS your typical 13-year-old girl. They just need to be shown their options.
Forest City Gear was founded in 1955 by Stetler and Evelyn Young, parents of the current CEO, Fred Young, who runs the company with his wife, President Wendy Young. Forest City Gear is considered among the premier gearmakers in the worl
d, with successes ranging from the Mars Rover to the BMW/Oracle, winner of the America’s Cup.
Brian Cluff and his longtime colleague and partner, David Goodfellow, manage and operate Star SU LLC, located in Hoffman Estates, IL. The company sells various leading brands of gearmaking machinery, other machine tools and a proprietary line of cutting tools.
Here is a link to the news release about the program on the NIU-EEP website (www.niu.edu/eep): http://www.niu.edu/PubAffairs/RELEASES/2008/nov/scouts.shtml
For more information on this story, please contact: FOREST CITY GEAR CO., INC. 11715 Main Street Roscoe, IL 61073-0080 Phone: 815-623-2168 Fax: 815-623-6620 Web: www.forestcitygear.com Email: email@example.com Attention: Wendy Young, President
PR agency contact for Forest City Gear: Tim Daro Bernard & Company 847-934-4500 firstname.lastname@example.org
Twin-spindle, twin-turret turning center with twin CNC control has 16-pallet capacity and boasts 27-second cycle time in continuous mode
Roscoe, IL-Forest City Gear has purchased a Takisawa TT-200G, a fully-automated turning center with twin-spindle, twin-turret and twin-CNC operation, for its in-house blanking department. By the acquisition of this machine, according to a company spokesman, the production in the blanking department has radically improved, as the machine combines full automation with twin-sided, simultaneous machining.
With a 16-pallet capacity, this Takisawa 8” chuck type machine boasts a feed rate of 8m/min and features a standard spindle and turret plus a second C-axis spindle and turret with milling function. In addition, a bar loader, workpiece stacker, turnover unit, chip conveyor, air blower, tabulating counter and other equipment are onboard for fully automatic mode operation of the machine.
As a strictly custom gearmaker, Forest City Gear made the decision recently to develop an in-house blanking department, thereby improving its turnaround time on most jobs, according to company president, Wendy Young. “We were reliant on a number of outside suppliers and, while our volume overall is quite substantial, we were often slow to receive some small, project-specific blanks for production. Many of our jobs are short-run, highly specialized precision gears and that means we place a premium on being very efficient in our time-to-first-part protocols. The Takisawa is already making a big impact on our blanking operation here.”
Tommy Kalt, who runs the blanking department at Forest City Gear, concurs. “We’re achieving a 27-second cycle of continuous turning and the fully automatic mode means a big boost in production for our department. Because we do so many jobs that require relatively few blanks, our speed was hampered, due to excessive downtimes for set-up. That situation is diminished to a great degree with the Takisawa machine.”
This sale was made for Takisawa by Brad Fischbach of Yamazen.
Forest City Gear is a world-class supplier of high-precision gears for demanding applications in the aircraft, aerospace, defense, instrument, medical, racing (boat and auto), high-end sporting goods and other markets. The company sells its products worldwide, including to China.
Forest City Gear was founded in 1955 by Stetler and Evelyn Young, parents of the current CEO, Fred Young, and is considered among the premier gearmakers in the world.
For more information, please contact:
FOREST CITY GEAR CO., INC.
11715 Main Street
Roscoe, IL 61073-0080
Attention: Wendy Young, President
Forest City Gear proudly announces the availability of its new capabilities brochure. This new literature details the many markets for which the company produces highly-specialized, custom gears to suit the most demanding applications for accuracy, stability and wear. A world-class gearmaker, Forest City Gear has a reputation in the international market for “excellent without exception,” the mantra of company CEO, Fred Young.
Forest City Gear produces precision gears for a variety of markets, most notably aircraft, aerospace, defense, instruments, medical, racing (boat and auto), high-end sporting goods and more. The company’s products are found on the Space Shuttle, every car in the starting field at the Indy 500, the world’s longest distance casting reel, highly sophisticated measuring instruments and Siemens magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, as well as Howitzer’s, surface-to-air missiles and other military ordnance. The company proudly boasts it will have every wheel and actuator gear on Curiosity, the next generation Mars Rover vehicle. That achievement was based on its outstanding performance on Spirit and Opportunity, the current vehicles occupying the Red Planet.
Long recognized internationally as a leading gear manufacturer, the company continues its philosophy of reinvestment and ongoing purchase of the latest, most advanced gearmaking technology in the world. As Fred Young explains, “We don’t wait for the order to buy the machine, we acquire the best technology available to push our capabilities into new arenas, every day. That policy, coupled with arguably the most sophisticated gear quality lab in the world, has kept us in the forefront of the industry for decades. We’re very proud of that fact. As evidence of same, Forest City Gear counts dozens of other gear companies among our customers, as they bring work to us which they cannot perform themselves.”
The full brochure is available online at www.forestcitygear.com, which also details the company in a virtual tour of the facility, plus videos and a full personnel directory of key contacts.
For more information or a copy of this new capabilities brochure, please contact:FOREST CITY GEAR CO., INC. 11715 Main Street Roscoe, IL 61073-0080 Phone: 815-623-2168 Fax: 815-623-6620 Web: www.forestcitygear.com Email: email@example.com Attention: Wendy Young, President
Leading manufacturer of high-precision gears feeds, educates and entertains over 250 employees, suppliers and others
Roscoe, IL-Forest City Gear supplies some of the world’s leading companies with high-precision gear work. These include such diverse yet demanding customers as aircraft, military ordnance, every car in the starting field at the Indy 500, the winning boat in the America’s Cup and, perhaps their crowning achievement (pun intended), the Mars Rover. Already onboard Spirit and Opportunity, Forest City Gear products will deploy the solar panels and drive the wheels on the next generation of the Rover project, scheduled for lift-off in late 2011.
Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, the company celebrated its 55th year in business with a good old-fashioned corn boil on the company premises, July 24, 2010. Owners Fred and Wendy Young, along with their family, welcomed all the employees, their families, many suppliers, customers and friends of the company from the local Roscoe, IL community, to dine, socialize and stay out of the rain with them. Fred also gave tours of the facility, explaining to even the youngest visitors how a gear is made, measured and applied in the “real world” of mechanical motion, in all the industries served by this longtime market leader.
Highlight of the event were the karaoke performances by many of the employees, including the owners, who took all in attendance back to the halcyon hippie days of the 60’s with their heartfelt rendition of “I Got You, Babe” by Sonny & Cher. While the likelihood of the Young’s leaving the gear business for the glitz and glamour of the entertainment world is minute, every second of their performance brought rousing cheers from the enthralled mass, under the big top tent erected in the company’s parking lot.
There was face painting and a bouncy house for the kids, though Fred was looking at the latter with a mischievous grin, all afternoon!
In the end, despite a bit of rain, a good time was had by all, as they say. The hosts had allocated 4.5 ears of corn for all in attendance and many folks ate their quota and then some, while many were seen exiting the event with ears aplenty in hand, courtesy of Wendy!
Besides, where else on a rainy Saturday could one get a detailed explanation of the AGMA gear rating system?
See photos attached for more of the fun. For the real risk-takers, click here to see the Young’s singing for their supper!
For more information on the event or the company, please contact:
FOREST CITY GEAR CO., INC. 11715 Main Street Roscoe, IL 61073-0080 Phone: 815-623-2168 Fax: 815-623-6620 Web: www.forestcitygear.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Attention: Fred Young or Wendy Young
PR agency contact for Forest City Gear: Tim Daro Bernard & Company 847-934-4500Continue reading
Gear manufacturer supplying various defense sector customers completed registration process on March 31, 2010
Roscoe, IL-Forest City Gear supplies some of the world’s leading companies with high-precision gear work. These include products for various defense sector contractors, which would be subject to the strict guidelines of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). This standard is designed to “establish and maintain a procedure for identifying and complying with export authorization requirements for the sale and shipment of defense articles, the performance of defense services and the transfer of technical data” by the companies involved, pursuant to the Arms Export Control Act. Applicable products include those on the United States Munitions List (USML).
Specifically, ITAR requires that Forest City Gear maintain a strict record of all manufacturing procedures and defense articles produced, as well as visitor records and the tracking of all potentially sensitive documents such as engineering data and shipping logs. Under the guidelines, only U.S. citizens may visit the facility, where no cameras or laptops are permitted and only citizens may work for the company, during the design, engineering, manufacture, production and handling of products and all relevant data related to defense projects. Exchange of data, especially via the Internet, is highly restricted, plus no non-citizen may access data in any way, without authorization from the State Department or a specially issued exemption. A non-citizen may also visit the plant, but only with a previously completed letter of authorization, stating they understand and comply with all relevant ITAR standards. And any non-citizen must be accompanied by a company official at all times.
The registration process was completed on March 31, 2010, after over a year’s effort to comply with all applicable standards, procedures and paperwork.
Overseeing the registration process and executing all documents for Forest City Gear was the company’s CEO, Fred Young. Quality Manager Joe Luy will oversee the internal process and procedure.
Forest City Gear supplies gears and gearwork for all types of military ordnance, as well as numerous military aircraft, vehicles, instrumentation and other defense devices. The company has also supplied gears on Jeep’s for decades, long before they became consumer items.
The company recently celebrated its 55th anniversary. Forest City Gear was founded in 1955 by Fred Young’s parents, Stetler and Evelyn Young, in Rockford, Illinois, near the company’s current facility in Roscoe.
ITAR is managed by the Department of Homeland Security, the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls and other government agencies, at this time. Only vendors listed on the Approved ITAR Vendor List are sent quote requests on ITAR-restricted materials and products.
For more information on the company, please contact: FOREST CITY GEAR CO., INC. 11715 Main Street Roscoe, IL 61073-0080 Phone: 815-623-2168 Fax: 815-623-6620 Web: www.forestcitygear.com Email: email@example.com Attention: Fred Young or Joe Luy
PR agency contact for Forest City Gear: Tim Daro Bernard & Company 847-934-4500 firstname.lastname@example.orgContinue reading
In addition to an aggressive recycling program, Forest City has implemented a number of other changes: