Broaching Machine Specialties (BMS) President Matt Egrin takes an interesting approach to how he wants his company to be known — as the Trader Joe’s of the machine tool industry, in that it provides a level of service that outshines its competition.
“For example, when you go into a Trader Joe’s grocery store and you ask, ‘Where’s the peanut butter?’ They say, ‘It’s in aisle three, and let me take you there’; and then they say, ‘This one is just peanuts; this one has peanuts and sugar; this one is organic, and this one is my favorite; would you like to taste it?’” he said. “So, we want to be the Trader Joe’s of the broaching machine world, where we leave every customer who comes in contact with any member of the Broaching Machine Specialties team — whether it’s initial sales or engineering or manufacturing — and we want them to come away from that experience or contact they had with the BMS employee saying, ‘Wow, those guys are great.’”
That unique analogy is where Broaching Machine Specialties wants to be when it comes to servicing its customer, and Egrin said that next-level service is an integral core value when it comes to what his company offers the gear-manufacturing industry.
“We are one of the industry leaders in electromechanically powered broaching machines, and we sell machines to manufacturers all over the world,” he said. “We have machines on six of the seven continents — all of them except Antarctica — and in 27 different countries.”
An essential function
Broaching is often an essential part of manufacturing a gear, according to Egrin.
“Gearing uses a lot of different parts that are potentially broached,” he said. “Internal splines, of course, are broached, which go on drive shafts. External splines can also be broached for an external gear, and those are used in a lot of different gearing applications, whether they be transmissions or drivelines or numerous other applications.
BMS offers both hydraulically powered machines and the latest in electromechanical drive technology. The electromechanically powered machines are particularly appealing to many in the gearing industry, according to Egrin.
“We are one of the industry leaders and probably the leading company in America in the manufacture of electromechanically driven machines,” he said. “There are a lot of advantages of electromechanical machines. First of all, the floor space is 50 percent of what a hydraulic machine is because there’s no hydraulic unit set behind it. Also, they use less electricity, so they are eco-friendlier, because with a hydraulic machine, the motor is constantly idling and using electricity. An electromechanical machine’s motors are only turning while the machine is in motion.”
With hydraulic machines, the hydraulic oil inside the cylinder is compressible under the cutting load, and the cutting forces vary depending on how many cutting teeth are engaged in the workpiece, according to Egrin. When the hydraulic oil compresses under load, it creates backlash, which results in chatter in the cut.
“With an electromechanical machine, there is no backlash,” he said. “You have constant torque and a constant feed rate with no backlash. It results in a better part finish and better tool life. It’s better for the gear manufacturers. It allows them to create a better product and reduces operating costs and tool maintenance costs.”
Standard line of machines
BMS offers a standard line of machines for both internal and surface broaching operations, according to Egrin.
“The flagship of the company is the BMS Dual Drive, which is an electric drive, internal table up machine,” he said. “It loads at the floor level with no pits and no platforms, and it is driven with two planetary roller screws. We sell more Dual Drives than any other model that we manufacture. And a machine like that is one that people who are broaching internal splines, like in the gear industry, are most often going to require. We have tried to make that machine as standard as possible, regardless of the application. That allows us to bring our cost down and turn those cost savings over to the customer. It also helps us on the delivery side because we’re building a standard product that doesn’t have to be re-engineered with each order.”
Many customer options
Although BMS’ Dual Drive machine is suitable for most any internal broaching application, not all companies can afford or require the level of technology it offers, according to Egrin.
“Our first shot across the bow for internal broaching applications is, generally the Dual Drive —the flagship of the company; it’s got a lot of advantages, and here is the cost,” he said. “However, if this is outside of the customers’ budget, we have 300 pieces of used broaching equipment in our warehouse, which we can offer as an alternative to a new machine. We offer used machines with three different levels of service. If a customer has a very tight budget and is willing to take the machine like it is and service it and tool it themselves, we offer it ‘as-is.’ The next level of service is what we term ‘reconditioned,’ which is the middle ground between a used machine and a remanufactured machine — and when we call a machine reconditioned, it’s a machine that’s in good mechanical condition; it’s complete, and it runs well; it’s a sound machine, but it needs to be cleaned; it may need the pump rebuilt; it may need new cylinder seals and gaskets; it may need a few minor repairs, all of which we complete as part of the machine servicing, and we offer a one-year warranty with this level of service.”
BMS can also offer a higher level of service with a complete machine remanufacture, according to Egrin.
“We can go complete remanufacture — tear the machine down, regrind and refit the ways and slides, new electric controls and either new or rebuilt hydraulic systems,” he said. Remanufactured machines come with a two-year warranty. None of our competitors offers a two-year warranty on remanufactured machines. That warranty is an example of how we offer a superior level of service to our customers. What that means is we don’t just have one solution for a customer that comes to us. If they want all the bells and whistles on a fancy electromechanical machine with all its advantages, then that’s available to them at this price. But, if that’s out of their budget, we offer the different levels of servicing on the used machines, and the customer can decide how they want to buy it depending on what fits the budget.”
The expertise and customer service offered by BMS has been developed over decades, starting in 1936 when the company was formed by Egrin’s grandfather. In the beginning, the company was a buyer and seller of all types of used machinery and tools. The company grew to include the distribution of air compressors and tools and lifts for service stations. The company started specializing in broaching in the 1960s when, after relocating, the company ended up in close proximity to numerous automotive plants, and many in the surrounding automotive companies were looking for broaching machines, so the company started buying broaching machines to sell, according to Egrin.
“That’s more or less how the company got into broaching,” he said.
At that time, the company was in the hands of Egrin’s father and his father’s brother, and the company continued buying and selling broaching equipment, often partnering with other broaching companies in town. During that part of the company’s history, almost all of the broaching technology in North America was in the Detroit area to support the auto industry.
Decades of buying, rebuilding, and selling broaching machines led to the next phase: designing and building original equipment. That began in 1986.
The experience the company accumulated from rebuilding everybody else’s machines provided a unique insight into how to build broaching machines with the best designs, most useful functions, while making them easy to maintain, according to Egrin.
“For example, we liked the ram on this machine; we liked the way the table is designed on that machine,” he said. “We used some of this and some of that and incorporated those ideas into our own machine design. That first machine was built in 1986, and with that, our product line started to expand. Currently, we build several lines of standard lines of broaching equipment plus special machines for unique broaching applications. We continue to offer used broaching machines and re-manufactured turnkey broaching systems, but we’re about 50-percent new to 50-percent used and remanufactured now.”
And those offerings have continued to do well for the company, even through the pandemic, according to Egrin.
“Last year, coming out of COVID, we had one of the best years in the history of the company,” he said. “That’s a proud moment for us. And I would say, just on a personal level, as far as the company is concerned, we have a number of employees who’ve been with the company over 30 years and most of our team has been with us for over 20 years, and we’ve had several fathers that brought their sons into the company. I’m proud of the fact that we’re able to retain our employees — highly trained technicians who enjoy working at the company and have been here a long time and can pass on all that knowledge and share it with our customers.”
If the past is any indication, the future of BMS would seem to be secure, according to Egrin.
“There will always be a place for broaching; there’s still no better way to make an internal spline,” he said. “There’s no faster way to make an external spline. You’re going to see more and more electromechanical machines replacing the different types of hydraulic machines as we go forward. Also, you’re going to see a lot more automation, whether it be onboard pick-and-place units or robot loading. You’re going to see a lot more ‘lights-out’ broaching operations as the manufacturing industry continues to automate. And, as I see it, our industry needs to be a lot more service oriented, just as other industries and service-type businesses have been.”
Meeting challenges head on
And BMS is ready to meet that challenge, according to Egrin. The company has already built a couple of the largest machines to date of its dual drive design.
“They’re 30 tons and 80 inches of stroke,” he said. “And we have opportunities now to build machines as large as 60 tons and 100 inches of stroke. The technology, as it evolved, has allowed us to offer machines of larger and larger capacity. The motor and screw technology previously didn’t offer that, but it does now. And being able to offer larger electromechanical machines with the latest technology is ideal for automotive-related projects. We’ve seen a very strong resurgence in the automotive industry over the past 10 years; a lot of ‘on-shoring,’ the American auto industry is really coming back.”
But all those technological achievements eventually circle back to Broaching Machine Specialties’ unique brand of customer service, according to Egrin.
“That’s the No. 1 thing we preach: service above all else, be easy to work with, have a sense of urgency, be honest, and have integrity,” he said. “That runs through the entire company at every level. Everybody walks the walk and talks the talk, and that’s what makes us tick. And as it relates to the gear industry, basically what we try to do is create broaching solutions that help people in the gear manufacturing business be successful by making good quality parts at the run rate required on high quality machines with great uptime and reliability, and then offer great service and support for those machines once they’re in the field.”
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