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Gleason Corporation Delivers Gear Technology for the Industry 4.0 Era

Category: Manufacturing Technology Jul 30, 2018


When people think of gear manufacturing, Gleason immediately comes to mind. After all, founder William Gleason invented the first bevel gear planer in 1874. This development proved to be the beginning of a new industry, the bevel gear industry, and opened vast new possibilities for the transmission of motive power. As the automotive industry shifts to hybrid electric vehicles and machine tool manufacturers integrate Industry 4.0 capabilities, Gleason remains on the forefront of innovation, and all of it will be on display in booth 23700 in the Gear Generation Pavilion at IMTS 2018.

“It's our mission to provide total gear solutions with the broadest portfolio solutions, including machines that cover all types of gears, cutting tools, workholding solutions, metrology products, service and software,” says John Perrotti, President and CEO of Gleason Corporation, Rochester, NY. “We're especially excited to exhibit our solutions at IMTS 2018. We know there's an opportunity for us to help gear manufacturers improve their gear processing.”

As an example, Perrotti points to the Genesis 400 HCD (hobbing/chamfering/deburring) machine, which has a capacity up to 400 millimeters in diameter and module 8. With a separate station for chamfering, which can occur in parallel to the hobbing process, the 400HCD adds high-precision chamfers to gears in an automated and flexible manner.

“The Genesis 400 HCD also features brand-new software that creates a simple user interface. The machine is really multifaceted in terms of how it is able to deal with the challenges that our customers face today,” says Perrotti. “Our customers are looking for more versatility and productivity out of equipment to maximize their capital investments,” explains Dominick Patriarca, Vice President and General Manager of Gleason's Rochester facility. “We're developing the technology so a younger, less experienced workforce can utilize it in an efficient way. We want to help reduce the learning curve for new employees entering the industry.”

A Major Transformation

Using technology to solve issues created by the shortage of skilled workers is just one trend Gleason is addressing.

“Manufacturing is going through a major transformation, and the gear world is a part of this change,” says Perrotti. “One of the more profound changes happening in manufacturing is IIoT, or what Europeans call Industry 4.0. Within Gleason, we call it Gleason 4.0.”

At IMTS 2018, Gleason will present its new line of Gleason 4.0 smart tools with embedded sensors. These sensors capture information for maintenance, such as number of times a tool has been sharpened and how many sharpenings are left before it needs to be replaced. The machine will even indicate if the tools are right or wrong for the job before they are put to use. In addition, Gleason will demonstrate new multi-sensor metrology machines that feature both traditional tactile probing systems and laser-based inspection. Connected to a closed-loop system, manufacturers can make a part, inspect it and automatically provide corrective settings back to the machine in real time.

Also new for IMTS 2018, Gleason's R&D team has developed new gear concepts for electric and hybrid vehicles. Dr. Hermann Stadtfeld, VP of Bevel Gear Technology and R&D for Gleason, notes that, “Electric motors have high RPM that must be reduced for transmitting torque to the wheels, so transmission shafts, bearings and gear sizes are different than for gas motors. Since all of the ratios are different, we have developed a new style of high-RPM gear that is particularly suitable for an electric vehicle with an automatic transmission.”

In addition to higher RPMs, electric vehicles need gear trains designed for quieter operation, as there is no engine noise to mask the sound of power transmission. To facilitate the design and production of new gear types for electric motors, Gleason will showcase associated software systems at IMTS 2018.

“We will demonstrate how to design a high RPM gear with our new GEMS™ Gear Engineering and Manufacturing System, how to transfer this into KISSsoft Gear Design Software to model the application forces and deflections, return to GEMS to optimize the bevel gear set and then feed back to KISSsoft to show the final solution,” says Stadtfeld.

Customer-Focused Solutions

A generation ago, exhibitors in the Gear Generation Pavilion demonstrated machines. Today, they demonstrate integrated manufacturing solutions.

“Gleason Automation Systems, essentially an automation company within Gleason Corporation, is committed to making our customers more efficient,” says Patriarca. “Today, one system can replace four to six machines.”

As an example, he points to tray stacking systems that interface with automation equipment to streamline feeding of parts from trays into an efficient, simple task. Using robotic technology greatly increases productivity per worker, addressing the industry's greatest issue. In addition, because many manufacturers do not have the internal resources to integrate automation projects, “a single-source provider like Gleason is more valuable now than it's ever been,” says Patriarca.

Whatever the issue, Gleason encourages visitors to the Gear Generation Pavilion to discuss it with industry experts at the Gleason booth.

“We'll have professionals in the booth to help companies reduce total costs per piece for nearly any application,” Perrotti says. “There's something in the Gleason booth for everyone, whether they are thinking big about a solution for five years down the road or for those who need to solve a problem immediately.”

Solving challenges also includes those who have previously purchased equipment, as one differentiator for Gleason is its ability to foster long-term relationships, getting intimately familiar with challenges and working to find solutions beyond just a machine.

“Our business relationship doesn't end with shipping a machine. It begins there,” Stadtfeld says. “We help the customer to install the machine, we help them with software and then optimizing machine operation. If the customer comes back to us and says, ‘This gear is noisy,' we never say, ‘We sold you a machine tool. We didn't commit to making gears that are not noisy.' Instead, we'll ask about the gear design and address the issue, including sending an application engineer to help the customer.”

Manufacturers also rely heavily on Gleason's service team as they continue to reduce their own maintenance staff.

“Whether a machine is five or 25 years old, we'll have people at IMTS 2018 who know how to keep those machines up and running,” Perrotti says. He notes that Gleason has instances where customers with a decades-old machine call for advice. “We answer those questions because we feel responsible for the machines even after that many years. We stand behind our products.”

The Personal Connection

Gleason knows first-hand the value of exhibiting at and attending IMTS. “Internet research doesn't give you the kind of information you can get at IMTS,” Stadtfeld says. “We have our equipment ready for demonstration and inspection so you can touch it and play with the screens. Plus, we bring virtually every product specialist so visitors can talk with a developer and really learn how it can work for them. That's what people want when they come to a booth. A discussion at IMTS can materialize into development of a new solution that had not existed before.”


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