Making gears takes more than good design

Considering your entire supply chain adds value for your gear applications.


It’s a given that “materials matter” when it comes to gear design. But “materials” can be more than just the raw components. Our team at TimkenSteel is excited to be back with Gear Solutions for a series of articles to explain why.

In 2017 and 2018, TimkenSteel contributed Materials Matter columns focusing on the importance of using clean steels for optimum gear performance. These articles highlighted testing that demonstrates using clean and ultra-clean steels improves fatigue life and power density in highly engineered components. But the steelmaking is just one piece of the puzzle. To get the best results in your gear application, you need to employ the best collective inputs.

When designing a gear, it’s important to consider the supply chain as a whole as well as how each piece of it individually could contribute additional value. After selecting the right steel grade, think about how your suppliers can help you to achieve your goals. What types of processing will you need and what’s the best way to incorporate them? Can your suppliers streamline processing to reduce costs? Can they combine efforts to minimize handling? Can they leverage existing assets and materials processing knowledge throughout the supply chain? Are there other areas for opportunity? These are just some of the questions we’ll address with our upcoming columns, and the important point to remember is that by considering ALL of these steps, you may realize added benefits.

TimkenSteel produces gear components at its St. Clair facility in Eaton, Ohio. (Courtesy: TimkenSteel)

For example, TimkenSteel offers customers a flexible model that includes being a single-source provider, managing the supply chain and ensuring supply continuity from raw material all the way to optimum gear finishing. Doing so means customers have the opportunity to receive just-in-time inventory to meet manufacturing or assembly needs, while saving expense and focusing their own efforts on their core competency.

Another advantage of controlling your supply chain is optimum consistency. When you have visibility to the entire process, you can better manage the quality of the end product.

By engaging your suppliers early in the design process, you may be able to gain more efficiencies in your efforts. Building strong relationships with suppliers often provides solid insights and new opportunities for advancement.

No matter the end market for your gear application, performance and value are critical to the success of any design. Our team at TimkenSteel looks forward to discussing the many ways your “material” inputs can add value to your gear applications in the coming issues. 

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Jim Albertson is Senior Manager of Supply Chain Strategy and Operations Advancement for TimkenSteel. He spearheads supply chain strategy and supplier development programs for a broad range of outsourced conversion services. He joined TimkenSteel in 2001 and has held various leadership positions. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from The University of Akron and is a member of the American Society for Quality. Contact him at 330-471-3134 or