In Quality Digest
, quality has been described as “the on-going process of building and sustaining relationships by assessing, anticipating and fulfilling stated and implied needs”.
Never has this definition been more appropriate than when applied to Aldershot-based FT Gearing Systems Ltd; in addition to establishing long-term relationships with its customers, the renowned manufacturer of gear technology and high-precision components enjoys enduring associations with a small number of machine tool suppliers.
Since its inception in 1978, FT Gearing has pursued a policy of investing regularly in the best-available manufacturing technologies, which has helped the company to earn an excellent international reputation and broaden its customer base; and while this remains focused on the global aerospace and defence sectors, it now includes an increasing variety of businesses in several sectors.
Being involved in the production of premium-quality gear technology and high-precision components, two of the most important prerequisites for FT Gearing are achieving demanding dimensional tolerances and meeting the required surface-finish characteristics.
To ensure that it consistently delivers in these challenging areas while maintaining maximum levels of efficiency, the company has developed close relationships with the Swiss grinding-machine manufacturer Studer and its Gloucester-based UK agent, Advanced Grinding Supplies Ltd (www.adgrind.co.uk
Over several years, FT Gearing’s continuous expansion has led to regular investments in the Swiss machines, and the company now operates 16 Studer CNC grinders — the largest collection of Studer grinders owned by a single UK company.
These are housed in a newly constructed temperature-controlled production unit (one of five co-located units, each dedicated to a separate manufacturing function). Brand loyalty
Explaining the company’s loyalty to the Studer brand and the reasons for the new grinding facility, FT Gearing’s managing director, Graham Fitzgerald, said: “We supply a wide range of safety-critical components — such as gears, miniature gearboxes, fuel pumps, engine controls, wing surface actuators and instrumentation — to customers that include both domestic and overseas defence and aerospace companies, and quality permeates every aspect of our work. A major part of our philosophy is to provide our staff with the best available machine tools — and to maintain close relationships with our machine tool suppliers.
“Our Studer CNC grinders consistently deliver levels of accuracy and repeatability that ‘conventional’ grinding machines are unable to attain. With Studer technology — for instance — we can achieve sub-micron total cylindricity on 35mm-diameter gear journals, 0.08µm levels of surface finish and gear flatness to ‘three light bands’.
“To ensure that we could grind to sub-micron dimensional tolerances, we recently installed our Studer CNC machines in a new temperature-controlled grinding facility; and to guarantee the highest-possible levels of quality and productivity, we also use the best available grinding consumables and accessories.
“Therefore, as well as purchasing our Studer grinders from Advanced Grinding Supplies, we also rely on the company for items such as diamond dressing tools, precision centres, grinding wheels, coolant filter media and air filtration systems.”
In conclusion, Peter Harding of Advanced Grinding Supplies, said: “As the exclusive sales agent for Studer grinding machines in the South of England and in South Wales, we have established a strong working relationship with FT Gearing.
“In co-operation with the company’s managing director, Graham Fitzgerald, I have been pleased to assist in specifying each new Studer machine so that it meets FT Gearing’s exacting needs.
“In addition to our staff being available to offer technical assistance to FT Gearing, we also provide a range of additional equipment and consumables that help the company to maximise the performance of its Studer grinders.”