Mark Devaney reports on Dynagear, the full-line manufacturer of choice in the internal engine components market
Twenty-two years after leaving Hoof Products, a timing and oil pump components manufacturer, Robert Green bought his previous employer. Such a dynamic move is emblematic of Dynagear, the company Green founded, which today is one of the fastest-growing engine component manufacturers in the world.
Dynagear, a Downers Grove, Ill.-based company, began as a producer of engine timing sprockets and gears for private-label customers. Engine timing drives are integral to the design of internal combustion engines. However, the same could be said of all the parts produced by Dynagear, which include oil pumps, pistons, valves, valve guides and cylinder sleeves.
“Dynagear is committed to be the leader in the original-equipment manufacturing and replacement parts market, as a full-line manufacturer,” says Steve Tucker, vice president of marketing. “We have achieved levels of excellence in quality and customer satisfaction through continuous improvement of our people, technologies and products.”
Initially fueled by continuous capital investments, the company’s strategic acquisitions and joint ventures over the years have resulted in expanded product lines and worldwide service capabilities.
Engines of Growth
When it comes to Dynagear, the only thing as impressive as its products is its history of smart business moves. In 1981, Dynagear acquired the automotive chain division of Rexnord Corporation, and created the only manufacturer of primary engine timing components, sprockets, gears and timing chains. Nine years later, the company formed a joint venture known as Global Gear with a major midrange diesel engine manufacturer to produce timing and accessory drive gears. Today Global Gear is recognized as one of the leading manufacturers of precision gears for production engines, transmissions and differential drives.
Capitalizing on its knowledge and experience in the manufacturing of engine timing chains, Dynagear established a new timing chain operation in 1992. The facility – located in Queretaro, 125 miles north of Mexico City – is dedicated to producing ANSI- and BSI-style silent and roller timing chains, and supports the Central American and South American markets.
In 1995, Dynagear entered into an agreement with Kolbenschmidt, a German-based engine parts manufacturer, to purchase its Marinette, Wis., oil pump operation and the York, Pa., valve plant, known in the industry as Manley-Badger. In addition, Dynagear secured the after-market distribution rights for the Badger Piston product line and has since become one of the largest producers of aluminum pistons for internal combustion engines, in addition to cast-iron pistons for special-duty engines and compressors. The above-mentioned acquisition of Hoof Products was also completed in this year.
In 1998, Dynagear acquired the Ertel Manufacturing Company of Indianapolis, Ind., with plants in Indianapolis, New Albany, Miss., and Bridgman, Mich. As a manufacturer of valve guides, pistons, piston pins and cylinder sleeves, Ertel services the original-equipment market and the after-market. Dynagear has made substantial investments in Ertel, upgrading machining operations and dramatically improving quality and productivity. Ertel’s Indianapolis and New Albany facilities are now completely self-sufficient, with on-site foundry operations producing all-aluminum and iron-casting requirements.
According to Tucker, the company will continue to make strategic acquisitions of complementing manufacturing facilities and equipment.
Dynagear has one of the industry’s finest quality-control staffs. Through continuous improvement of the quality-control systems, Dynagear has achieved ISO 9001, ISO 9002 and QS 9000 certifications.
In Search of Sinteris
One key deal worth highlighting was spurred on by what Tucker calls a shifting market, which Dynagear, of course, anticipated. “About six years ago the timing components business was growing, but we recognized a substantial increase in the use of powdered metal (P/M) in the OEM-level manufacture of timing sprockets,” says Tucker. “The market continues to move toward P/M technology for improved quality, so Dynagear’s acquisition of Sinteris has positioned us for the future.”
Since 1972, Sinteris, based in Blenheim, Ontario, has been at the forefront of powered P/M, manufacturing P/M components for the automotive, appliance, lawn and garden, and industrial markets – products that consistently exceed customer expectations.
“P/M technology allows us to produce complex components and assemblies in a variety of metals, while achieving the highest standards of quality and consistency at a cost comparing favorably with other manufacturing methods,” adds Tucker. The use of P/M components as a percentage of vehicle weight is rising in the automotive industry and heavy-duty industries. Today they total 35 pounds, with projections to reach 41 pounds within the next three years, a 15 percent increase. Connecting rods, camshafts and other critical engine/transmission components (previously produced with heavy machining) have benefited from recent refinements in P/M techniques.
“By creating Dynagear Sinteris, we have realized continuous growth and improvement, and have expanded our capabilities with secondary machining operations and compacting equipment from 8-ton through 750-ton and above,” says Tucker. “Dynagear has also invested fully in automated manufacturing cells for timing gears. The robotics feature carbide gear cutting and quality inspection.” Dynagear upgrades all of its manufacturing facilities annually, and uses the latest CNC manufacturing equipment.
Improvement the Key
“Dynagear engineers know that valves are key engine components that must be designed to withstand increased engine operating temperatures while meeting or exceeding customer durability requirements,” says Tucker. “Continuous improvements in intake and exhaust valve design are critical in order to meet rigorous EPA emission standards.”
Significant improvements in engine exhaust emissions and fuel economy have been attained through the use of multivalve cylinder head designs, incorporating three, four and sometimes five valves per cylinder. According to Tucker, Dynagear Valve’s unique manufacturing environment combines the efficiencies of larger production runs with the effectiveness of cellular manufacturing.
“Dynagear responds to usage requirements utilizing dedicated capital equipment for forging, machining and finishing operations,” says Tucker. “Our valves meet and often exceed specification requirements, and will be delivered on schedule.”
The effective sealing of intake and exhaust valve stems during engine operation is critical to achieving the emission standards mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency for internal combustion engines. Dynagear’s cost-efficient and precision-machined valve guides meet, and often exceed, design specifications for the control of oil migration into the combustion chamber. For more than 70 years starting with production for the Pierce Arrow automobile, the Dynagear Valve Guide Plant has continued to grow. Today, Dynagear produces more than 24 million valve guides, and is proud to be the single design and supply source for many predominantly heavy-duty, high-quality engine manufacturers.
The transfer of power in an internal combustion engine begins with the explosion of the fuel and air mixture within a cylinder, after which the mixture travels to the crankshaft. It is this function that is accomplished through the piston. Dynagear produces aluminum and cast-iron pistons to meet the stringent requirements of its customers for design, material performance and precise control of machining tolerances. A high percentage of engines designed in recent years has specified either eutectic (approximately 75 percent) or hypereutectic (20 percent) alloys. The balance of piston designs fall into numerous material categories, each with functional benefits that limit their use.
“Our engineers have developed a modified base material that allows us to produce pistons to the design specification required, realizing maximum benefits for all categories,” says Tucker. “Dynagear pistons can achieve superior operating performance characteristics over similar alloys specified by other aluminum piston manufacturers, while reducing cost.”
Dynagear sales are strong this year, despite a flat market, and much of this growth can be attributed to the increase of the company’s international sales. Dynagear’s annual sales growth has exceeded the engine component industry’s average growth rate for the past 10 years.