Cooperation – the key to success

05/25/2012 - Oliver Hagenlocher

Experts estimate that every year up to two billion gears are produced worldwide. Gear production for transmission systems alone accounts for a massive number – inevitable, considering the approximately 65 million cars produced worldwide in 2011, for instance. And there are many other sectors of industry that use gears and splined shafts in their products. However, there is one factor that all branches using geared components have to contend with: an ever increasing number of customer demands. Complex geometries, highly variable batch sizes, a large variety of product types and outstanding component quality are all posing ever greater challenges for the gear cutting industry. How one can hold one’s ground in such a demanding segment of the industry is shown by Grimm GmbH, Gosheim, a gear cutting specialist with over 80 years of experience in the machining of gears and gearings.


Experts estimate that every year up to two billion gears are produced worldwide. Gear production for transmission systems alone accounts for a massive number – inevitable, considering the approximately 65 million cars produced worldwide in 2011, for instance. And there are many other sectors of industry that use gears and splined shafts in their products. However, there is one factor that all branches using geared components have to contend with: an ever increasing number of customer demands. Complex geometries, highly variable batch sizes, a large variety of product types and outstanding component quality are all posing ever greater challenges for the gear cutting industry. How one can hold one’s ground in such a demanding segment of the industry is shown by Grimm GmbH, Gosheim, a gear cutting specialist with over 80 years of experience in the machining of gears and gearings.

“Approximately 25% of our production is for the automotive industry, in particular the oil pump, shaft and vacuum pump sectors. However, our company is also strongly represented in drive systems technology, where our product range includes everything from shearing machine shafts to shutter motor shafts. Every electrical motor that contains a shaft is of interest to us. On average, an approximate 20 million shafts leave our works every year”, characterises Eugen Braunschweiger – one of the two Managing Directors of Grimm GmbH – their production programme.  
Grimm produces approx. 3 million other geared components per year, with the applied know-how covering everything from turning the raw-part to gear-cutting and grinding it. The object is always the same: to produce a ready-to-install component. “Our focus is on providing our customer not only with one step in the machining process but with a complete-machined component”, explains Eugen Braunschweiger. And the main focus is not on the production of pure turned parts. “We specialise in workpieces that have to be machined in a number of steps. This is where our strength lies”, adds Herr Fritz, the other MD of Grimm GmbH.

Longstanding cooperation as a key to success
Grimm GmbH invested in their first KOEPFER machine as long as 40 years ago. Since then there has been close cooperation between the two companies: for their gear cutting work Grimm will only buy KOEPFER machines. “KOEPFER offers us exactly the right gear cutting machines, highly suitable for our many types of workpieces and variety of batch sizes. We also try to keep the number of different machine labels on our shopfloor to a minimum. Another important point for us is our geographical closeness to KOEPFER and the fast, excellent service this guarantees. Our partnership with KOEPFER functions well; i.e. KOEPFER is always willing to help realise even the most unusual wishes and ideas we might have regarding automation and workhandling. In this respect, KOEPFER meets our demands by offering us machines that are made to suit our particular requirements”, explains Eugen Braunschweiger.

Cost reductions through machine compatibility
There is one other point that should not be ignored, and that is the compatibility between the various KOEPFER machines. For instances, all workpiece receptors can be used on all KOEPFER machines. Software, tools and even magazines are all compatible between machines. “Compatibility amongst our machines is for us of great importance. Already at the development stage we make sure that interfaces are created. For example, as many components as technically possible are the same on a variety of our machines. This ensures that the customer is not faced with the extra expense of stock duplications or with having to stock exchange parts,” explains Volker Eschle, KOEPFER Sales Engineer, who has been looking after Grimm GmbH for 9 years.
The training effort for customer staff too is reduced when one works with machines from a manufacturer with a well thought-out machine platform philosophy like that of KOEPFER Verzahnungsmaschinen.


Over 200 machines in the field confirms the success story
Volker Eschle is particularly proud of the KOEPFER K160; and those responsible for it at Grimm’s are happy that the K 160 has also become a jubilee machine, with KOEPFER now having delivered the 200th machine. There are reasons for this success, of course: “What I like most about the K160 is its accessibility. Despite its size, it is so easy to quickly reach all its important points. Its dimensional accuracy and reliability are also outstanding. Once the K160 is set up, it produces components of exemplary quality, without adjustment”, comments Herr Bohner, departmental head at Grimm GmbH. Another highlight occupying its rightful place in the production hall at Grimm GmbH is the K 200 gear cutter – also from KOEPFER, of course. One technical advantage of the K200 is the use of a universal milling head. This allows for the application of classical hobbing methods in the milling of, for example, spur gears and – without having to change anything – worms. In other words, the machine offers great flexibility. “As we have to set up a number of times every day, it is of great help that all the components are interchangeable among the KOEPFER machines,” clarifies Herr Braunschweiger the comments made about the advantages of these machines.

The focus is on quality
Grimm GmbH specialises in the manufacture of high-quality workpieces. “To produce high-quality components requires high-quality production tools. These are, primarily, the machines employed for the work, but also the measuring equipment that monitors and documents component quality. However, the key to achieve this quality with a degree of efficiency is the know-how of operators and setters. It is this interaction of different factors that results in the kind of component quality that makes our customers happy. If one of these factors were missing from the equation, we could not achieve the high component quality our customers demand”, defines Eugen Braunschweiger their model for success.
One characteristic for which Grimm GmbH is noted is the company’s high degree of flexibility in the management of batch sizes. The machines are used for small batches and mass production alike. Grimm GmbH handles up to 3,500 different component types every year. This requires 4 to 5 setups a day for their gear cutting machines.  Another component of the company’s success story is its intensive engagement in training, offering apprenticeships for industrial mechanics in turning, grinding and gear cutting.

Grimm GmbH
Grimm GmbH in Gosheim has 150 employees and achieves a turnover of approx. 16 million € per year. The company’s core business activity is the manufacture of shafts and geared components. Grimm GmbH supplies over 22 million components per annum for the drive engineering sector.

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Oliver Hagenlocher

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