Tips on Sourcing Gears: Open Gears, Gearboxes, Taking Over Gear Manufacturing from an OEM
Things to observe about a gear manufacturer when considering sourcing a gear
- Technology: What is the state of the equipment?
- Has the company made continual investments in machining, metrology, and gear making equipment?
- Financial: What is the financial health of the company?
- What kind of gears does the company specialize in? Bevels, spiral bevels, helicals, splines, cluster, racks, pinions, gear assemblies, gearboxes? What is the evidence of this?
- Gear and Gearbox Design: Does the customer need the gear maker to supply data or provide design help? What is the evidence that they have done this in the past?
- Machine Tools: Does it have modern state-of-the-art gear making equipment? Hobbing, shaping, gear grinding, etc.?
- Quality System: Are they AS9100? How is this maintained? Are they transparent and robust in their quality system? What quality metrics do they use with their customers?
- How long have their gear makers and engineers been with the company?
- What is the average tenure of the employees in this company?
- What does this company do in the way of training and continued education of those employees in the machining, measuring, and gear making aspects of their business?
- Manufacturing Bills: How accurate are their procedures? Does the company employ any kind of contract review before they make product?
- Are their machine tools programmed on the floor or from a central location in engineering? What is their rationale for their chosen method?
- How is data collected and maintained? How is information fed back to the bill of material?
- If you are evaluating a gear vendor to take over gear or gearbox work from an OEM or from another supplier: Are control gauges and master gauges involved? How is the current product measured? Do you have an accurate, up-to-date bill of materials and order of operations that can be transferred to the prospective gear maker
- With regard to the AGMA quality level, what is the mean quality level of products currently manufactured by the prospective gear company and for what industry? What is the AGMA level of the gears you are sourcing? What is the highest AGMA level the gear maker is comfortable making and what is the evidence of that?
Buying professionals are programmed to select a vendor based on price, quality, and delivery. However, if the above questions are worked through and proper due diligence done, the buyer is assured to achieve the successful sourcing of a gear product that will have the best features of price, quality and delivery.