Investments in people, equipment, technology are preparing the New York state company for the future.
With more than 75 machining centers, measurement machines, and other high-tech tools, Rochester Gear in Rochester, New York, is one of the largest gear-making operations in the Northeast. President Anthony Fedor says that scale of business is necessary in today’s market.
“We have a very diverse customer base, greater than 120 in a given year. We manufacture spur, helical, and bevel gears for various industries,” Fedor says. He adds that the wide variety of equipment – hobbing machines, shapers, bevel gear cutters, thread mills, lathes, and inspection machines to name a few – are necessary to serve a wide range of customers.
The company’s greatest asset, however, is its workforce, not its equipment, Fedor says. Rochester boasts having four engineers with 144 years of combined gear-making experience in its shop. As with other manufacturers, he notes the challenge faced is preparing for the future as his skilled tradesmen retire.
“Although it is difficult to find good machinists to hire, we have had some success in preparing for the retirement of our older operators,” Fedor says. “On the engineering and inspection side, we have had good success in hiring two excellent mechanical engineers from Rochester Institute of Technology. We are in the process of hiring an additional mechanical engineer.”
Another strategy the company is using to address skilled labor shortages and customer demand for more-precise gears is automation.
“We have also purchased software to communicate between CNC machines and the gear analyzer to make setups and production more effective,” Fedor says. “We think customers will continue to ask for higher precision gears to address noise levels and product longevity. This means Rochester Gear needs to have the manufacturing equipment and inspection equipment that meets its needs.