Full disclosure: Forum brings insight to challenging times

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AGMA has hosted a couple of in-person events in 2022 and, without question, the gear-manufacturing industry is happy to be back in person. Getting past the feel-good handshakes and hugs, it is apparent that talking about solutions to some looming economic data, workforce issues, and supply-chain disruptions is a top priority. In the past, as an association, we have witnessed many businesses keeping success tactics private, and many were reluctant to share what was working for fear of losing to their competitors. I personally believe COVID-19 leveled the playing field so much that it changed people from competing against each other to more of a fighting to promote the industry at large (for gears, anyway), making collaboration more important than ever.

So, we held an industry forum on supply chain; we brought in expert speakers about globalization and hiring the right people, and we asked what was keeping our members up at night. With full disclosure, we got some incredible insight to what was working and how to achieve success during a difficult time. Our members, within reason, were sharing, and that is what our association is all about.

One theme that seemed to come forward during every presentation and within each answer was communication. Here are a couple of the ways in which our members encouraged leadership, plant managers, sales associates, and truly everyone to talk more:

Suppy chain

During the 2022 AGMA/ABMA Annual Meeting, we had a Harvard professor and supply-chain expert moderate what we called the Industry Forum, where attendees could sit together in groups and talk about the challenges the industry was facing. Whether you sat at the end-user, distributor, manufacturer, or supplier table, everyone agreed talking to all parts of the chain was going to lead to success. From communicating lead times, renegotiating contracts, discussing demand, transit logistics, and capacity, increasing the flow of information allowed for a better outcome. Not only were you being candid about capability, but it allowed customers on both ends to have realistic expectations, and, therefore, a more honest approach to deliverability. Unanimously, our members agreed this forged better relationships.

Workforce

Hiring the next generation of manufacturers is not a new issue. Attracting young and qualified talent has been a problem haunting every gear shop for years — it has led to production slowdowns, automation implementation, and money lost.

The labor market impact of technology is often viewed through the lens of job creation or job destruction. Economists — with near ubiquity — treat technology as being either labor displacing or labor reinstating. If technology displaces workers, jobs are lost. If technology creates (or reinstates) work, jobs are created. Under this dichotomy, the key question is whether technology creates more jobs than it destroys. The World Economic Forum estimates that by 2025, technology will create at least 12 million more jobs than it destroys, a sign that, in the long run, automation will be a net positive for society. — Harvard Business Review: Automation Doesn’t Just Create or Destroy Jobs — It Transforms Them (hbr.org)

The solution for many of our members is to make sure you are telling your employees what is going on in the business strategy. If you cannot get skilled workers to join your company, then discuss the option of automation and make sure your current workforce does not feel threatened by the technology as it might provide even more opportunity for growth.

Global economy

How do you prepare for inflation or even a possible recession? The verdict from our recent Strategic Resources Network meeting: You can’t. The best thing again is communicate with the experts, your employees, your suppliers, and your customers to stay ahead of possible disruptions. Use the market intelligence programs from your associations, like AGMA, attend the webinars on the trade and tariffs affecting manufacturers, and call your peers to see what they are thinking. Keeping an open line of communication and attending networking events can truly make a difference to benchmark your strategy and to keep the information and data coming.

When you are stressed out trying to figure out how you will get materials to finish orders or how to hire your next operator when there are no applicants, remember that all you have to do is say something. Call AGMA and see how it can help you. Communicate your issues and work with others to find solutions because, as we all know, there is no point in trying to reinvent the wheel … or gear.

Upcoming Training Seminars

Involute Spline Design & Rating

July 13-14, 2022 

This course will address both geometry and rating of involute splines of various types. The types of spline joints and their applications will be discussed. Spline configuration variations, including half depth, full depth, and special function designs, will be addressed. Both fixed and flexible spline configurations will be examined in terms of usage and design. Lubrication methods, including grease, oil bath, and flowing oil, as well as coatings appropriate for various spline applications, are examined. Shear and compressive stress rating methods are discussed with analysis methodology presented in both equation and graphical methodology via various rating charts.

Gearbox Systems Design

July 19-21, 2022

This course focuses the supporting elements of a gearbox that allow gears and bearings to do their jobs most efficiently. Learn about seals, lubrication, lubricants, housings, breathers, and other details that go into designing gearbox systems.

Gear Heat Treatment Operator/Operations

July 26-28, 2022

This course provides the heat-treat operator and operations team the means to perform the heat treatment of steel gears in a manner that meets the AGMA and customer requirements in a safe and efficient manner. The course identifies the key requirements for proper processing. Sufficient metallurgical background is provided to allow the student to identify how this information relates to the required processing and properties of the gear.

Basic Gear Inspection for Operators

August 10-11, 2022

This course will provide a solid foundation for anyone going into gear inspection. Learn the common, current and basics of the tools and techniques used to measure and inspect gears. Understand the four main categories by which a gear is evaluated and classified. Gain proficiency in understanding gear quality by learning the numerical scale on which gear design, manufacture, and inspection are based and more.

Networking: Join Us at This Year’s FTM

2022 AGMA Fall Technical Meeting (FTM)

October 17-19, 2022  |  Chicago, Illinois

Technology is fundamentally changing manufacturing. To keep up in today’s marketplace, designers and manufacturers need to follow the emerging trends and communicate the latest ideas with their fellow experts in the field. AGMA’s annual Fall Technical Meeting (FTM) is the perfect forum for this.

Each year, 30 authors are selected by AGMA to write peer-reviewed technical papers on topics relevant to the gear industry. Topics include: design, analysis, manufacturing, quality, materials, metallurgy, heat treatment, operation, maintenance, efficiency, and gear failure. Authors present the results of their papers in a single-track conference, which means you don’t have to pick and choose which presentations to attend. With a full registration, you receive copies of all papers, are able to see all the presentations, ask questions to all the presenters, and network with your peers over three days.

Calendar of events

July 12 — Bevel Gearing Committee — WebEx

July 13-14 — Flexible Couplings Committee — Chicago, Illinois

July 19-21 — Gearbox Systems Design — Clearwater, Florida

July 26-29 — Heat Treatment for Operators -— Chicago, Illinois

August 10-11 — Basic Gear Inspection for Operators — Chicago, Illinois

August 11 — Gear Accuracy Committee — WebEx

August 23 — Bevel Gearing Committee — WebEx

September 8 — Design Basics for Spur and Helical Gears — Online

September 8 — Wormgearing Committee — WebEx

September 15-16 — Wormgearing Committee — WebEx

September 19-23 — Basic Training for Gear Manufacturing — Chicago, Illinois

September 21 — Helical Enclosed Drives High Speed Units Committee — WebEx

September 29 — Gear Accuracy Committee — WebEx