Trend Talks: Anna Claire Howard

Repairs are one of those things everyone hopes to avoid. But when the time comes to have a component fixed or rebuilt all together, you want to know you’re in capable hands.


It happened.
You did everything you could to prevent this sort of disaster, but it still happened.

You’re on track for production and everything seems to be running smoothly until, suddenly, the shop floor comes to a screeching halt.

You have a faulty part.
Most gear manufacturers have been in this type of unfortunate situation, or one like it, where they’ve come face to face with a part that is in desperate need of repair. It might even need to be replaced all together. And with every passing minute, the company is losing time and money. That’s where a company such as Quality Reducer Service, Inc. comes into play.

Based in Cicero, Illinois, Quality Reduce Service’s only business is gearbox repair and rebuilding, contract assembly for gearboxes, and preventative gearbox maintenance. It works in partnership with its parent company, Circle Gear and Machine Company, one of the greater Chicago area’s largest and most complete gear manufacturing companies. Just as gearboxes are used in a wide variety of industries, so is Quality Reducer Service. Some of those industries include large and small manufacturers, steel and paper mills, oil refineries, chemical processing facilities, and utility power plants.

“Since last February, we’re at 150,000 square feet of repair and manufacturing capabilities,” said Patrick McKernin, vice president of Quality Reducer Service, Inc. “We have a complete engineering staff who can reverse engineer and upgrade any component. As far as our capabilities, we can do tooth grinding, shaft grinding, nondestructive testing, fabricating, and welding, among other things. We’re also a full service gear manufacturer as well as a gearbox repair service provider. We have the capability to manufacture any of the components, and our testing capabilities are also outstanding.”

The most common reasons a gearbox becomes faulty comes down to the oil. According to McKernin, the best customer is the one who’s doing preventative maintenance, meaning that they’re keeping the oil levels in their gearbox up.

“Other reasons someone may need their gearbox repaired is because it could be leaking oil around the seals and may become an environmental issue,” McKernin said. “Nobody likes to have oil on their shop floor, especially if it’s food service or anything like that where you can’t have any contamination. Maybe the gearbox is noisy or it’s heating up on them. Maybe something is broken on it like a shaft or a gear, or maybe the bearings are failing. Maybe the housing is broken or the foot mounting gets snapped off. It could even be a catastrophic failure where all of the gears are broken. What keeps me in business is when people don’t put enough oil in their gearbox, or they run out of oil or they don’t change the oil and have dirty oil. That’s the main reason gearboxes fail.”

They’ll also work with irreparable parts.
When existing gears or other components in the gearbox are damaged beyond repair, Quality Reducer Service presents two options — using available OEM replacements or custom machined parts from Circle Gear.

“We can offer emergency repair services if that’s what the customer needs,” McKernin said. “Normally, when a gearbox comes in, we inspect it that day. We may not get it torn apart and quoted out until the following day, but if it’s something relatively simple, we can do it in the same day or over the span of two days. If it’s an old, obsolete unit, or if all of the gears are shot, then we reverse engineer what we have and make new gearing. It could be anywhere from one week to 14 weeks depending on the extent of the damage. A lot of times, if it’s a smaller gearbox, there are parts available from the original manufacturer, we can turn it around really quick.”

Being a custom gear manufacturer and a gearbox repair service provider, Quality Reducer Service can also recognize a situation where it’s just not worth it to repair the faulty gearbox.
“Here, we say that if you can pick the gearbox up yourself and set it up on the bench, it’s going to cost more to repair it than it would cost to replace it,” McKernin said. “We can supply brand new units. We have good relationships with virtually every OEM of gearboxes. We can buy directly from them and get good discounts. We can offer the customer a replacement for less than what it would cost to try to repair it.

“I always tell people who are unsure about their gearbox to email me a picture of the bad part in the gearbox or of the tag if there’s one on there. Right away I can tell if it’s worth the cost of repair of if it makes more sense to replace it all together.”

At the end of the day, a company like Quality Reducer Service is one to keep in mind on days when everything seems to go wrong, especially when it comes to gearboxes.

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associate editor, Gear Solutions (205) 380-1573 ext. 204