Gear companies interested in manufacturing a new part that requires induction heat-treating have options to consider. One involves devoting resources to handling everything internally — from designing the part, to researching the proper materials, to choosing the best heat-treating technique — which can result in quite an investment of both time and capital. Another requires nothing more than picking up the phone and calling Inductoheat, Inc., according to Robert Smith, director of North American sales.
“Inductoheat is leading the world in induction heating technologies,” he says, “and we offer our customers a unique one-stop shopping experience, with services including process development, engineering design, equipment manufacturing, prototyping, computer modeling, and an on-site metallurgical laboratory. We also have a large induction coil-build and repair department and an aftermarket support and service group, so we work closely with our customers as early in the process as they’d like, and we are prepared to get involved to whatever extent they require. We’re interested in building long-term partnerships.”
As part of the Inductotherm Group, Inductoheat has done just that in the 50-plus years it has spent servicing the automotive and forging industries, in addition to oil-country goods. The company is involved in induction heat treating, heating for forging, and power supplies for hardening, tempering, copper tube annealing, low-frequency heating, and tube and pipe heating. Its longtime customers include Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota, American Axle, and BorgWarner, among others, and it is beginning to make inroads into the wind-energy market as well. No matter the industry its customer is involved in, however, they will experience the same commitment to excellence in terms of providing the highest quality products, services, and processes.
“We have an extensive development laboratory known as the Customer Development Center with 15 pieces of induction heating equipment of various sizes and frequencies,” Smith says. “That’s where we work directly with our customers, looking at their drawings and discussing coil geometries, because we want to get their input in developing the best induction heating process for the particular component they’re interested in treating. We want that relationship to begin as early in the process as possible so that we can help guide their decisions as to choosing a material that will achieve the hardness and machinability they’re looking for while keeping their costs as low as possible. We would then transition to designing equipment capable of processing the part according to their specifications. Throughout this process we rely on our worldwide R&D group, which is based here at our U.S. headquarters in Madison Heights, Michigan, and we also have a complete engineering staff to assist at any stage of the project. So our presale phase involves the development work I’ve described, and once the terms of the sale have been agreed to we provide aftermarket spare parts support and repair services. We also have a complete field service group that travels the country, or the world if need be, to service the equipment that we provide to our various customers, no matter where they’re located.”
This coverage is achieved by some 17 Inductoheat locations around the world — Inductotherm totals 40 global facilities in Brazil, China, India, Europe, Germany, Taiwan, and Australia, among others — most of which are manufacturing sites with staff in place to service its customers’ needs. “We don’t do heat-treat work in the vast majority of those locations,” Smith explains, “instead supplying capital equipment to the companies that want to do the heat treating themselves.”
A portion of Inductoheat’s R&D efforts involves new equipment design, with an eye toward manufacturing induction heating machines large enough to handle the ever-growing parts and gearing necessary for the wind-energy market. “We’ve been involved in the wind industry for more than a decade, and the equipment we’ve built is still out there heat-treating parts. But as new turbines are being developed to provide even greater energy output than is currently available, we want to be prepared by having the induction heating equipment they’ll need available, so we’ve devoted a great deal of our engineering team that’s based in India to that particular project,” Smith explains. “In addition, we’re seeing a trend toward building turbine manufacturing plants here in the United States so that they will be closer to the wind farms, lowering shipping costs, so those facilities will require heat-treating equipment.”
This attention to the future is balanced by a respect for the past, with its employees in Madison Heights averaging some two decades with the company, adding their years of experience — and the resulting expertise — to the portfolio of products and services it offers its customers. “We are a global company, and the caliber of our clients shines a very positive light on the work we do,” Smith says. “We look forward to sharing that same dedication to quality with new customers as we identify and enter into exciting new markets around the world.”