Tell us about your background with Inductoheat.
This marks my twentieth year with the Inductotherm Group, Inductoheat’s parent company, though I began my career with Thermatool—also part of the Inductotherm Group. I started off in marketing and sales, and then became vice president of sales before going into operations. I was vice president of operations for Thermatool for a very short period before they made me president of the company, and then president of the Thermatool Group, which was comprised of five companies at the time. Then, in 2001, I was asked to take over the Inductoheat Group and combine it with the Thermatool Group to create our Heating and Welding Group. This group is headquartered here in Madison Heights, Michigan, and is made up of 17 companies located around the world. Inductoheat has been focusing on automotive applications, including gears, since 1986. In addition to the United States we have facilities in Brazil, China, India, Europe, Germany, Taiwan, and Australia. The balance of the work we do is in forging, quench and temper, annealing and hardening, and normalizing of different metals.
How do you juggle being both an OEM as well as a provider of heat-treating services?
We make a point of not competing with our customers. As an example, here in the United States we’ve chosen not to run a commercial heat-treat company. We focus instead on helping our customers to achieve their own goals. One way we accomplish this is by having three distinct service sectors, which we refer to as pre-sale, sale, and after-sale. In the first phase we have the Customer Development Center, which is a metallurgy lab here at the Madison Heights facility where we’ve recently installed 13 new induction machines. That’s where we work with our customers on any type of new product development, or making a better pattern for an existing part. Once we get an equipment order we turn it over to our operations department, whose sole job is to work with the customer. That’s the “sale” phase. Then, once that piece of equipment is delivered, it becomes the responsibility of the aftermarket department, which is 100-percent responsible for customer satisfaction. So anything having to do with parts for the machine, or help in streamlining the process, is handled by that particular group so that the customer knows exactly who to go to. We’ve found that’s a highly effective way of doing things, because that group’s only concern is keeping our customers happy.
What do gear manufacturers need to know about Inductoheat?
That we understand the challenges they’re faced with, and that we believe induction heating provides the solution they’re looking for. The hardest part of any machine is the gearing, and designers are working to reduce weight and make them strong and more wear resistant, which we believe requires induction heating as the hardening technique. And while processes such as carburizing have been the rule in the past, we’re on the verge of introducing output features to the power supply that will allow flexibility for induction heat treating gears that’s never been seen before. That type of innovation is what’s required for induction heating to become the preferred technique for hardening gears, so that’s what we’re doing—providing the flexibility manufacturers need in order to produce gears that are harder, stronger, and more precise.
MORE INFO: (248) 585-9393 or (800) 624-6297. www.inductoheat.com.