Horsburgh & Scott engineers and manufactures a wide range of small to large gears and gearboxes, then supports them with value-added services to keep its customers up and running.

Gears, by their very nature, are complex structures that have inserted themselves quite literally into almost all aspects of everyday life.

And as the gearing industry constantly evolves to fit the needs of a changing technical environment, it can often become a challenge to ensure those essential gears are performing optimally.

The experts at Horsburgh & Scott have taken on that challenge and have made it a primary mission for more than a century.

“Horsburgh & Scott is a comprehensive gear manufacturer; we handle custom gear drives and complex gearing solutions, so we don’t have a standard product,” said Randy Burdick, CEO of Horsburgh & Scott. “We basically go out and reverse engineer problematic drive solutions for customers, and we service them. We own the product lifecycle of our install base, but as the gearing industry truly becomes global, we support the customers who have chosen to use gear manufacturing that was done across the pond or with companies that don’t have an aftermarket strategy.”

Variety of services

Being a vertically integrated manufacturer, Horsburgh & Scott has the capability to interject itself into that market, which allows for a wide degree of services, according to Burdick.

“We’ll do comprehensive infield inspections with our field service team, and if we need to come out with our reverse engineering capability, we’ll visit the customer sites and do reverse engineering and develop a drop-in replacement design, so the customer can mitigate any type of structural or civil work that’s required,” he said. “They can do this interchange on the fly, if you will, without having to do a lot of civil work. If there are problematic drives, we’ll come out with reverse engineers and basically take measurements that enable us to do a finite analysis investigation and help the customer resolve what the problem is. Then, we’ll propose a solution for our gear design to solve the customer’s problem and enhance their reliability to drive, obviously, maintenance center reliability throughout their organization, which in turn reduces operating costs.”

A large part of Horsburgh & Scott’s capabilities come from its ability to design and manufacture its own gears, according to Burdick.

“We design and fabricate our own gears; we cut our own gears; we heat treat our own gears,” he said. “We have both carburizing as well as induction-hardening heat-treat capabilities, and then, of course, we assemble our gearboxes and service our gearboxes as well. We’re a one-stop shop for our customers.”

More than a century of experience has allowed Horsburgh & Scott to face any challenge a customer may have. (Courtesy: Horsburgh & Scott)

Addressing a consolidated market

Horsburgh & Scott’s abilities have become even more important as the gearing industry continues to consolidate, resulting in many products being phased out of the market, according to Burdick.

“This leaves end users exposed to running gear drives that don’t have part availability or replacement drive availability,” he said. “That’s where we enter the marketplace. We will come in and reverse engineer other people’s parts to increase the power density of those gear drives or replace it if a customer needs something faster. Because of our vertical integration, we can manufacture a through-hardened gear set in a matter of days and a carburized gear set in a matter of weeks on an expedited basis. We give the customer an option of going back to the OEM or utilizing a manufacturing service such as Horsburgh & Scott that can provide a high-quality product and at a rapid pace that the OEM original equipment manufacturer can’t.”

This allows Horsburgh & Scott to increase the functionality of existing equipment, according to Burdick.

“Power density means we’re pumping more horsepower through a smaller dimensional envelope, per se, but it also provides us the opportunity to take and uprate a customer’s existing drive,” he said. “We take out the old technology through-hardened gearing and replace it with a casehardened and ground gearing that provides, typically, a 40 to 50 percent mechanical uprate over their existing gear drive. In the same dimensional footprint, in the same center distance, and in the same gear casing that they’re currently operating in, we can often get the customer a 40 or 50 percent mechanical increase in power by just changing out the gearing and changing out the metallurgy, the gear geometry, and the gear design to a more current state-of-the-art concept.”

‘Delivering the distance’

Those capabilities fold into how Horsburgh & Scott promotes the gear industry: by delivering the difference, according to Burdick.

“What that means is it’s wide encompassing,” he said. “From the sales team, to the manufacturing team, to the engineering team, to the shipping and receiving team, it’s everything that we do to touch our valued customers. We want to do something that delivers a difference, whether it’s picking up the phone at 2 o’clock in the morning or answering the phone on a Sunday or getting a shipment out and making sure it’s right and the labels are correct, the paint’s correct, to the design concept. It’s making sure that we’re addressing the needs of the customer, and we do it right the first time from a manufacturing process.”

Another component to Horsburgh & Scott’s success is what Burdick refers to as “speed kills the competition.”

“I don’t take that lightly,” he said. “What we mean by that is speed of velocity from answering our customers, to issuing quotes, to getting the product out our door in an accelerated manner that beats what the competition’s capable of. It really positions Horsburgh to win in the marketplace and serves our customer at a high level.”

Horsburgh & Scott is a comprehensive gear manufacturer that can handle custom gear drives and complex gearing solutions. (Courtesy: Horsburgh & Scott)

Investing and evolving

In order to continue operating at peak efficiency has involved a lot of necessary investments through the years, according to Burdick.

“We’re owned by GenNx360, which is an investment company, and they’ve afforded us the ability to reinvest in the business and reinvest in the people and reinvest in the capital assets,” he said. “We’ve spent millions of dollars in capital over the past several years that I’ve been here to basically increase our velocity and increase our throughput. We’ve invested in people; we’ve doubled our workforce. In terms of when I came in here in 2017, we had 100 people; now, we’ve got 225 people. We’ve got locations in Slidell, Louisiana, and one up in Illinois. We’re expanding our footprint and our reach, and we’re going to continue to do so because we believe getting closer to our customers really positions us to endear ourselves to them and service them at a level that others can’t due to our long heritage of Horsburgh & Scott. We’ve been in business 138 years, and we’ve got an incredible team that’s knowledgeable, committed, dedicated, and backed by incomparable resources from a machining standpoint.”

Customer challenges

More than a century of experience has allowed Horsburgh & Scott to face any challenge a customer may have, according to Burdick.

“We call it the Horsburgh business system — HBS,” he said. “We basically bring our teams together. Every day, we have what is called daily management, so we’re pulsing our business metrics in terms of our ITQ, our quotes, our OTD, any type of breakdown. But when a customer poses a challenge to us, we quickly assemble the necessary team members, and it starts with a sales team, making sure we understand what the customer wants. We address that, and then we bring in our engineering team to obviously understand what the customer’s looking for and if it is doable and viable. And then, of course, once the engineering team comes up with a potential solution, then we engage the manufacturing team to put it all into works. Is it manufacturable? Then, the estimating team ties it all together by taking the customer’s expectations, the engineering details, and manufacturing details, and puts it together in a work scope that’s presented to the customer. That essentially evolves into the defined work scope that’s presented.”

This can sometimes involve solutions that the customer may not even have realized it may need, according to Burdick.

“When the customer asks for things that obviously are outside the realm or they’re not asking the right question, certainly our objective is to get them their best gear design that we possibly can provide them that enhances the reliability while addressing their concerns in a responsible manner,” he said. “But at the end of the day, the customer is the king. If they say they want something after we’ve presented it, then we’re certainly going to deliver what the customer’s expectations are, but we try to use our knowledge and expertise in both manufacturing, engineering, and applications to guide the customer to making the right decision.”

But when Burdick and his experts can present a much better plan, it usually means a way to ultimately save money for the customer.

“We’re the experts in the field, and when a steel mill comes in and says, ‘Hey, this is what we’re looking at,’ typically they’re going back to what had been in their application previously,” he said. “They’re not looking at the enhancements that the gearing industry has evolved into. So, oftentimes, we’re doing mechanical upgrades, changing metallurgy, changing gear design, changing heat-treat practices, what have you, to enhance their reliability. And, of course, customers are always receptive to increasing their reliability, which provides a bottom line to their operations.”

Being a vertically integrated manufacturer, Horsburgh & Scott has the capability to interject itself into that market, which allows for a wide degree of services. (Courtesy: Horsburgh & Scott)

Maritime defense work

Being in business for almost 140 years has presented many proud achievements, but Burdick said one of the company’s most recent is its entering into the maritime defense market.

“We’re excited about that,” he said. “Our products are protecting the sovereignty of our nation as well as our allies. I think that’s a proud moment of us. In 138 years, Horsburgh really never participated in that market, and just recently, in the past couple of years, we’ve been awarded some Navy contracts, which really took a lot of hard work and dedication by the team to become ABS certified. That allowed us to participate in that market. An ABS certification requires, obviously, a high level of competency. Quality is absolutely mandated, and we have a level of technical know-how and manufacturing capability that provides us the ability to pass ABS stringent guidelines.”

But at the end of the day, Burdick said Horsburgh & Scott’s “secret sauce” is the company’s team of experts.

“Anybody can go out and buy a gear grinder; anybody can go out and buy heat-treated equipment, but what makes Horsburgh the company that we are is our team,” he said. “Our knowledgeable base of employees, along with their dedication to servicing our customers at the highest level, is really what makes Horsburgh the company we are. Because quite frankly, we’re here to service our customers, and customers’ gearboxes don’t break down Monday through Friday between 8 and 5. They typically break down in odd hours or weekends or holidays. And we’re pleased to say, if you call our 1-800 number, you’re going to get a Horsburgh & Scott employee on the phone in a very timely manner. And then you get the ability to deploy our resource to put a quick rapid response plan together to get that customer back operational.”

And Burdick said he expects his company to be a major player in the gear sector for many years to come, and that has a large part to do with the experts in place at Horsburgh & Scott.

“I’m a gearhead, and I think as long as there’s life on this Earth, there’s going to need to be torque because torque is utilized and employed in everyday aspects of our lives,” he said. “And we’re really pleased that we’ve got a team that’s dedicated, and they truly appreciate the position that Horsburgh commands in the marketplace. We provide quality products at a highly engineered level of service that’s second to no one in the gearing industry.” 

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