When it comes to manufacturing gears, there’s a lot more involved in the process than just making them — although that is an important and crucial step.
In its 80-plus year history, Swedish-based Sandvik Coromant has moved beyond the status quo by offering, not only the actual tools to make gears, but services to maintain equipment, training, and much more.
“We have different segments for customers to choose from when it comes to solutions, but we also offer physical cutting tools,” said Nicholas Falgiatano, VP of Marketing — Americas. “That’s where we’ve really made a name for ourselves in the industry — physical cutting tools, or metalworking tools, if you will. We’ve got a wide variety of solutions ranging from standard stock items to specials.”
Software and more
Much of what Sandvik Coromant does for gears also involves offering machine monitoring software and a variety of other services, according to Falgiatano.
“Reconditioning would be one of them, depending on the product,” he said. “We have a recycling program, and we’ve got something called payment per part. Instead of paying for the physical tools, you’d essentially be paying per part, which is super valuable if you’re in a high-manufacturing or high-output shop. We also offer things like lean consultancy, vending logistics, and digital products when it comes to process planning and machine optimized solutions. We really do have a lot to offer outside of the physical cutting tools for the gear industry or manufacturing as a whole.”
To that end, Sandvik Coromant has experts positioned around the globe, according to Falgiatano.
“The core competencies aren’t just in one geographical area, which is nice, because a lot of our customer base works like that as well; a lot of the partnerships that we have with end customers end up being global customers as a whole,” he said. “We’re positioned really well where we’ve got global support when it comes to manufacturing, but also specifically the gear products. One of the newer trends in gears being Skyview.”
That global competency is an essential tool when it comes to collaboration with its partnerships, according to Falgiatano.
“We certainly believe in partnering with others in our space, and, in our space, that might even mean someone like Microsoft when it comes to data-driven technology,” he said. “We’ve got, externally, 70 different competent centers that we can tap into. That’s essentially 70 different partners all around the globe. We’re heavily focused on the future of manufacturing and taking a bit of a collaborative approach. We’ve got fantastic relationships with universities and institutions all around the globe when it comes to ensuring that we’re ahead of the curve when it comes to our solutions and knowledge and basically everything that we have to offer the manufacturing industry as a whole.”
Ahead of the curve
To see how Sandvik Coromant continues to stay ahead of the curve, one just needs to look at some of its annual accomplishments, according to Falgiatano.
“Every year, I think we average around 100 new patents,” he said. “That’s quite a bit of patents as far as technology is concerned. We’ve historically been known as a carbide company, a physical cutting tool solution company, and we’ve really reshaped the way that we go to market. But we’re much more than just a physical portfolio. We offer so many things outside of the physical product that allows us to establish strong relationships and partnerships with our customer base. No matter how big or how small the customer base is, we have something to offer all of them.”
To effectively service its varied customer base, Falgiatano said the company is heavily staffed when it comes to “feet on the street.”
“We also do a great job when it comes to field presence,” he said. “Our product is very well-supported and represented. We have a number of different roles when it comes to an individual’s core competencies. Whether someone is specializing in milling or drilling or turning or gear milling, we have a ton of support globally as well as in the specific markets.”
Unique support system
Because of that extensive field presence, Sandvik Coromant has positioned itself well on what the industry needs in terms of partnerships, according to Falgiatano. And it has done that by basically reshaping the way the company goes to market and the way it supports the industry.
“When I first started with the company 11 years ago, my job title was a sales engineer, and I was responsible for a physical geography, and there might be, depending on the geography, 400 or 500 customers, maybe all the way up to 1,200 customers,” he said. “As an individual, I was solely responsible for that customer base. Of course, we had Product Management, but it was kind of a one-trick pony. You were out there supporting as many customers as possible. While we more than doubled most competitors in terms of field support, it was just me out there.”
But that changed a few years back when Falgiatano said the company moved to a method called Frontline Sales.
“These days we have an abundance of specialized roles,” he said. “We go to market with account managers that really try to work manufacturing engineers up in an organization to better understand an end customer’s challenge and pinpoint what’s important to them, making sure that we’re aligning our application specialists, which tend to work manufacturing engineers down to the shop floor. Ultimately, we want to make sure that we’re aligned with the customers’ needs and what’s important to them.”
Specific areas of expertise
In addition to that, Sandvik Coromant relies on individuals that have core competencies in specific areas, according to Falgiatano.
“We have a variety of product managers throughout the globe and specifically in Sales Area Americas, and we position them accordingly,” he said. “If you’re in Michigan, we have automotive specialists, or we’ll have specialists that have a core competency in skiving, because we know that there’s a high demand for that. We take a step back, and assess the market and the needs, and then we allocate the appropriate amount of headcount and competencies to support that market, which is a much better way of structuring a market compared to when I first started.”
Sandvik Coromant’s detailed methods of keeping an eye on the market and its customers has enabled the company to constantly stay ahead of trends, as well as its competition, according to Falgiatano.
“We do an excellent job of providing the right solutions at the right time; so much so that we tend to be ahead of the curve,” he said. “A lot of times, when we walk through the door, it’s typically about educating someone about what’s to come in the industry, whether it be digital solutions or brand-new concepts or physical products that we’re launching. We do a great job of staying ahead of industry trends.”
Keeping an eye on the future
Part of staying ahead of those trends is replacing an aging workforce with a younger generation who may not realize how much has changed when it comes to working on a shop floor, according to Falgiatano.
“I think what a lot of younger people don’t realize is that shop floors aren’t what they once were,” he said. “And when you get to be on the shop floor, you realize what is being produced and how it’s being done is actually really interesting. I mean, manufacturing is all around us essentially. You can’t walk out of the house without seeing manufacturing. But I think the last couple of years have shown us that as we move forward, the technology is going to continue to advance at a rapid speed. For example, you see automation becoming more and more relevant, and the demand for automation is very high. You see the need for digital solutions and intelligence being extremely high as well. Data has become king, so many companies are focused on the data to ensure that they’re making the right decisions.”
And those types of decisions happen right on the shop floor, many times in front of an actual machine, according to Falgiatano.
“One of our digital solutions is Machining Insights, which is a machine monitoring software,” he said. “Essentially, it can tell you everything and anything you want to know about your operation, so now workers know for certain that they are making the right decision based on accurate data.”
In the past, Falgiatano said making decisions was more assumption based.
“Nowadays, it’s amazing how much data is available from recent technological advances, and that’s really going to help from a skill-gap standpoint as well,” he said. “A lot of industries are in the middle of a skill gap. Even when we take flights, a lot of the flights are delayed because they can’t find crews. I don’t think it matters what industry you’re in today, there’s a prevalent skill gap. But in our industry, we’ve found it’s become super attractive for the next generation.”
Bringing in the next generation
That attractiveness is manifesting itself in the form of automation and robotics, according to Falgiatano.
“In comparing the industry as it stood when I first entered, to today, I’ve seen it evolve into an exceptionally appealing sector, particularly from the perspective of the younger generation. The rise in automation, robotics, and the wide array of digital solutions offered has made it all the more enticing,” he said. “I believe this sector’s attractiveness is not only pre-existing but is poised to continue to grow in the future.”
Along with new technology, Falgiatano said manufacturing, particularly gear manufacturing, will continue to be a stable industry, and he expects Sandvik Coromant to stay on the crest of that wave to train and encourage the future of the workforce.
“When you come in and learn a skill, you can take it over to the aerospace segment, to automotive, to medical, etc.,” he said. “There are so many different arenas now that you can step into once you develop that skill, it’s really opened doors for what roles, experiences, and career paths can be made possible in the manufacturing industry as a whole.”
MORE INFO www.sandvik.coromant.com