Offering the correct tool can involve many complex steps. Designing and manufacturing the optimum tool takes a company with years of expertise. This is especially true with skiving cutters.
That’s why TSA America exists: to offer its customers quality-engineered gear tools and much more.
TSA’s product line includes skiving and conventional shaper cutters, gear hobs, shave cutters, master gears, chamfering and deburring tools, spline gauges, and broaches. The company meets or surpasses all AGMA or DIN specified quality levels including AAA and AA.
“Right now, we are promoting our skiving cutters,” said Janice Thomas, sales manager for TSA America. “Due to the increase of skiving machines in the market and skiving capability on CNC multi-function machines, we have seen an uptick in customer support requirements in the usage of skiving cutters.”
Continuous improvement, continuous investment
TSA’s No. 1 priority is continuous improvement, which is synonymous with continuous investment, according to Thomas.
“We invest a significant portion of our turnover to improving our process,” she said. “The gear industry is dynamic, constantly demanding increased performance out of a generating tool. For that to happen, we must be poised to increase the value of our product to the customer. That comes in the form of superior tool performance, outstanding technical support, and providing a solution to a customer’s challenge. We are proud to have a loyal customer base.
When we have the opportunity to be of service to a first-time customer, we are genuinely enthused because it is a strong likelihood that it will turn into a long-term relationship. We are constantly striving to exceed customer expectations.”
That relationship shows with practically all of TSA’s customer interactions, according to Thomas.
“We helped several customers recently that were interested in the skiving process, but did not know if their components were candidates for the skiving method of tooth generation,” she said. “They sent the required information — it’s an involved process to determine the feasibility and calculate the optimum cutter configuration for a given component. The customers were pleased to find out ‘yes,’ it could be done, along with the support we provided on how to best implement the process. We gave them recommendations, along with the tool design. And once they received the tool, we assisted them with the process of establishing the cutting conditions, the tool feeds and speeds in order to optimize the operation. That is where exceeding customers’ expectations pays off.”
With its tools designed and manufactured at TSA’s Argentina headquarters, it’s important that TSA’s U.S. customers know that cutter sharpening is accomplished by a local company trained by TSA Argentina, so TSA can get that job done quickly, according to Thomas.
“We partner with a company here in the States, especially for the skive cutters, but that goes for all the products that we offer,” she said. “But particularly for the skive cutters and hobs and shaper cutters, we partner with Index Technologies, a Cleveland company that can sharpen all of our tools we provide.”
That dedication and involvement is what the gear industry has come to expect from TSA, according to Thomas.
“The gear industry has come to expect high performance from cutting tools due to improvements in raw materials, coatings, and skive-shaping technology,” she said. “With these evolving trends comes an ever-increasing need of technical support from the tool manufacturer. There is little published data on how to best take advantage of emerging technologies. TSA is heavy on engineering and support. Our customers know that when we provide a tool, we provide the know-how to make it run as efficiently as possible.”
TSA’s experience in working with its customers and making sure the products they get are not only made with precise engineering ensures they’re also competitively priced, according to Thomas.
“The technical experience that we have at TSA is second to none,” she said. “Our engineering team is very good at what they do. We design and build our own CNC machines in house. We’ll purchase a standard machine, tear it apart, and retrofit the hardware and software for our specific application. We write our own proprietary engineering software. The technical support we give before and after a purchase is standard for us; when a customer runs into a challenge, we are on call. We’ve got a loyal customer base due to that. Additionally, I’d say we are price competitive. We’re competitive delivery wise, too. We provide a high-quality product; it’s rare we have issues with tooling, so the quality is there. The support is right there from the sales process in entering the order, providing the customer with a tool drawing, manufacturing the tool, and delivering the tool — we are hands-on from start to finish.”
Being more of a mid-size company allows TSA to develop a more personal relationship with its customers, according to Thomas.
“I’ve actually had customers come back to me and say, ‘Thank you; we really appreciate how you stay on top of things, and we know exactly where our order is,’” she said. “I really do like to stay on top of things. It doesn’t matter if you give me a one-piece order or a 50-piece order, you’re going to get the same service.”
Gearing up for EV
That next decade will see the gear industry heavily involved with the electric vehicle market, and Thomas said “TSA is ready to offer its quality and expertise now.
“For the foreseeable future, e-vehicles will become mainstream, and the industry will require higher accuracy as the transmission of power will be closely connected to the source,” she said. “Ten years ago, we did not anticipate e-vehicles to dominate today’s automotive investment.
“However, we are ready to respond due to our emphasis on engineering, cutting edge manufacturing methods, and shop floor flexibility — all a function of continuous improvement and investments. This has worked for us since the very start back in 1973, and we expect that philosophy to carry us into the next era.”
Almost 50 years of expertise
TSA America’s parent company, Transmecanica S.A., was founded by Jose Maria Cunill in 1973 in Argentina. In the 1980s, Transmecanica, S.A. started doing business in the U.S. using representatives still in place today; however, as sales grew, an increase in demand drove the need for a U.S.-based presence. That need later became TSA America, LLC in 2006, Thomas has been sales manager ever since.
Before the company was launched, Cunill discovered that it was quite complicated and expensive to get gear cutters to make the parts needed while making gears for Leyland Buses. This encouraged him to study the mathematics of gears and the engineering process and how they’re made.
“He actually started manufacturing the gear cutters out of necessity,” Thomas said. “And that’s really how he started getting into the gear tool manufacturing business, and that all led up to what Transmecanica (TSA America) is today. It’s quite a long, extensive process that he went into. He really took the bull by the horns and became self-taught, and today he is a global authority on the manufacturing of gear tools.”
Throughout its history, TSA has boasted some considerable breakthroughs, including being the first tool producer in the Americas to use vacuum heat treat in the 1980s, the creation of its own coating facility in the 1990s, and its expansion of service centers in Europe and the U.S. in the 2000s. And today, the production of skive cutters along with the support it demands makes TSA a leader in that technology.
“We have been vertically integrated before it became a buzz word,” Thomas said. “We are an engineering company that manufactures customer gear-generating tools. We build our own equipment. Today, we have lights-out manufacturing for the production of gear tools, and that keeps us competitive. I am confident we are early to achieve that in our industry. We are enthused about what the next 10 to 20 years will bring.”
TSA is a family business that has two generations of Cunills running the enterprise. Jose Maria Cunill is still active in the business and manages TSA’s research and development efforts, which remain one of the pillars of the business.
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