Starting out almost a century ago by making clock parts, Neugart now develops, produces, and sells planetary gearboxes and custom gearboxes all around the world to a variety of industries.

Gearboxes are, quite literally, the driving force for dozens of industries, and Neugart makes reliable, quality gearboxes that have helped push the family-owned company into the global arena.

A large part of that success is due to Neugart’s ability to create gearboxes using a modular design.

“It’s that modular design that allows us to pretty much provide a solution for every challenge we get from the customer,” said Christian Schilling, vice president of Neugart’s U.S. location. “With our modular gearbox system, we’re using fewer parts to offer a wide range of gearboxes. It’s kind of fascinating that we can actually build a seemingly infinite number of gearbox variants with a modest number of parts.”

With its product features, the NGV planetary gearbox is specifically designed for use in driverless transport vehicles — AGVs for short. The bearings are designed and positioned to allow high radial loads at the output. (Courtesy: Neugart)

Variety of planetary gearboxes

To that end, Neugart offers a wide variety of planetary gearboxes, as well as customized gearboxes that can be very specialized, including bevel gearboxes, spur gearboxes, and more, according to Christian.

But more often than not, Christian said Neugart can find a gearbox that fits specific needs. And those gearboxes are designed to last — usually clocking in at about 30,000 hours of use.

“In my experience, planetary gearboxes are like those kinds of gearboxes that fit most applications,” he said. “However, we also offer high point gearboxes or bevel gearboxes or combinations of them with the planetary gearboxes.”

However, customized solutions also fall squarely in Neugart’s wheelhouse as well, according to Christian.

“We can build whatever the application requires, but sometimes the customer wants to have a specific kind of gearbox when other gearboxes might fit the application better,” he said. “We consult with the customers, advise them, and let them know, ‘Hey, this is pretty much a perfect solution for your challenge.’ We try to stick to the standards, but every once in a while, you need to have a customized solution for the customer in order to make it work.”

Working with the customer

Whatever the customer may need, it boils down to working closely with them in order to ascertain what will work best for them, according to Christian.

“Every challenge is different, and that’s the most interesting part about it I think, but also the variety of the challenge gives us a variety of solutions and ways to solve the puzzle for the customer,” he said.

Once Neugart receives and reviews a customer’s RFQ, they make sure they have all the information needed to offer the optimal solution, according to Christian. Once those steps are completed, Neugart will move on to gearbox sizing and analysis.

“We want to give a prompt response to the customer as soon as possible, get in touch with them, understand their application, and their needs to find the perfect solution for them,” he said.” And from the RFQ we would find a solution, prepare a quote, and try to give the best solution not only in quality but also in price. I would say we have fair market prices.”

With its product features, the NGV planetary gearbox is specifically designed for use in driverless transport vehicles — AGVs for short. The bearings are designed and positioned to allow high radial loads at the output. (Courtesy: Neugart)

Building a global presence

Neugart’s roots are of a local company that began in the Black Forest region of Germany in 1928, but the company has aspired to become a gearbox supplier around the globe, according to Christian.

“In the beginning, of course, we were very local in the Black Forest mainly, and nowadays we have locations all over the world,” he said. “But also the expectations from the customers changed a lot. Now, a prompt response time is very important, as are high expectations for customization and modification, not only on the product side but also around service for the product.”

Neugart takes those services to the next level by giving a lot of the deciding power back to its customers, according to Christian.

“We are offering tools and services that help the customer to size their gearboxes by themselves and get the response they need in time but also order processing via an EDI interface, or customized packaging, customized labels, and more,” he said. “We are striving to be the Amazon of gearbox manufacturing.”

Neugart’s offered product range includes numerous innovative, technologically mature, and highly reliable gearbox solutions. The 19 standard planetary gearbox series cover a wide range of applications — from the highest precision to the highest performance. (Courtesy: Neugart)

A market leader

To that end, Christian said Neugart is quite proud to be a market leader when it comes to economy planetary gearboxes.

“Our PLE series is one of the very first series that we provided on the market in 1993, and we still offer that product,” he said. “The name, PLE, has its origins in the 1990s, but the technology inside has been continuously improved and updated for the new decades.”

And Neugart continues to increase its gearbox-manufacturing presence around the world, according to Christian. Between 2014 and 2018, Neugart increased its sales by 65 percent.

“That’s a lot,” he said. “And we are actually the first gearbox manufacturer to introduce a 3A-Replacement Part and System Component certified hygienic design gearbox.”

The HLAE achieved the 3-A Replacement Part and System Component Qualification Certificate (3A-RPSCQC) in 2014, and this was recently renewed in a Third Party Verification, according to Christian.

Neugart’s U.S. location. (Courtesy: Neugart)

Making clock parts

Not a bad track record for a company that began by making gear parts for watches and clocks.

“The clock industry in the Black Forest was very big a hundred years ago,” Christian said. “Later on, they started manufacturing or developing mantel clocks, mechanical razors, and mechanical oil level indicators.”

In 1975, Neugart developed its first planetary gearbox for a stepper motor manufacturer, according to Christian.

“That’s the point when it all began with the complete gearboxes,” he said. “In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Neugart started with their first catalog-based product, the PL and PLE series. Those were the first standard gearboxes we developed.”

In 1997, Neugart opened its first U.S. location in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in 2003, the company opened its first sales locations in Italy and France. A year later, Neugart had a location in China to serve the Asian market. That expansion continued into 2011, when Neugart opened sales offices in Turkey and Brazil.

The company employs more than 700 people worldwide, including more than 600 at its headquarters in Kippenheim in southwest Germany.

Moreover, since Neugart is an owner-managed family business, it is important to the company that it operate in a way that not only makes sound business sense, but also makes sure it is diligent in its sustainability efforts. This includes, among other things, a commitment to low-impact use of nonrenewable resources, optimum environmental protection, and fair dealings with its employees and its local community.

Future goals

But Christian said Neugart is not resting on its laurels and intends to continue its growth aspirations into the future.

“I know we would like to be among the top three gearbox manufacturers; that’s our target,” he said.

Christian expects gearbox technology to continue to grow in the next 10 to 20 years.

“Gearbox technology itself will still play a big part in our society and in our culture — especially since electronic mobility is getting bigger and bigger for cars, and that will need gearboxes as well,” he said. “I am a curious person. I’m always thinking: What gearbox can I invent that no one has invented before?”