Volume 11 | Issue 6 | Year 2008

There are many industries and products in which gears are absolutely essential and for those markets there’s uniGear, which makes a practice of keeping the wheels of production humming with its specialty gears and gearboxes.
uniGear was started in Montreal in 1980 by Ron Mehra, a mechanical engineer, and his associate, Peter Zurcher. The business initiated in leased space of 5,500 square feet with a half million dollars of capital equipment. Less than two years later it expanded to 11,000 square feet and then to 22,000 square feet. After seven years in the business, during which it began exporting to the U.S., uniGear had grown to the point at which Mehra decided it was time for the company to construct its own building, and uniGear moved within Montreal in 1990 to the city’s west side and the town of Baie d’Urfe, into a new industrial park strategically located off of the trans Canada highway, 20 minutes from the airport. Starting with 12,000 square feet of land, today the uniGear site encompasses 250,000 square feet of land and 55,000 square feet of building, which is soon to expand to 85,000 square feet following a $10 million expansion including capital expenditures such as Boehringer Oerlikon CNC machining, turning, grinding and gear inspection equipment, gear hobbers and shapers.

“With the expansion we might start producing turbine gears to service the wind industry, to respond to the green energy revolution,” Mehra says, adding, “We have an award in Canada for family owned businesses. We were awarded three times for the ‘50 Best Run Companies,’ 1997 through 1999, growing from sales of $8-9 million in 1997 to where we are now, a multi-million dollar company.”

Working either from detailed drawings or from a sample part, uniGear offers quick and responsive service. From single-piece production, to high volume manufacturing, the company always adheres to customer specifications.

“This is a highly precisioned industry,” Mehra says. “In North America there’s not many players in gear manufacturing, while demand has increased exponentially, especially in green energy, which is the future for power generation.” Mehra reports of only three to four companies in the U.S. that make gears or gear boxes, the latter a direction Mehra led the company toward in 1990. “We re-invest profits every year; we’ve put approximately 15-20 percent of revenue into capital equipment for the last 15 years, which has kept us ahead of the competition.” Today, uniGear manufactures gears and gearboxes for the mining, steel, cement making, material handling, extrusion plastic and graphic printing industries.

“We have two businesses,” Mehra says. The first is open gearing with no housing, delivered to the mining and cement industries. These gears can measure up to 20 feet in diameter and weigh as much as 30 tons – monsters that are delivered by splitting them for easier transportation and assembly in the field. uniGear exports to China, Austria, France, Holland, Mexico, all of South America, including Brazil and the entire U.S. More than 65 percent of sales are outside of Canada.

uniGear also repairs speed reducers or gear boxes, comprised of steel housing, for a variety of industries, with the exceptions of aerospace and automotive. Its extensive quality control division ensures not only that AGMA and DIN standards are met, but that uniGear’s own high standards are met as well. In fact, uniGear has one of the most well-equipped inspection departments in North America.

The most important piece of inspection equipment is used to check the gear teeth. uniGear owns one of the most sophisticated gear inspection machines on the market: a Klingelnberg PNC 200 CNC-controlled gear measuring center. It ensures that the parts produced meet customers’ specifications. Many gear manufacturers don’t possess this equipment, Mehra stresses and, indeed, uniGear pointedly asks on its Web site: Is your current supplier capable of checking their gears?

In addition, the company’s fully automatic CNC controlled gear measuring center is designed for larger work-piece diameters up to 2000 mm. The measuring center is suitable for testing spur and helical gears as well as hobs, shaper- and shaving cutters, worms and wormgears, bevel gears and general deviations in dimension, form and location of rotation-symmetrical workpieces, curve and camshaft measurements and rotors.

The company’s gear box repair service is in house and involves a staff of engineers that offer thorough diagnostic analysis and will ensure that gear boxes are rebuilt to meet or exceed original specifications.

During a uniGear inspection, engineers will:

  • dismantle, inspect, measure and analyze all components.
  • provide a detailed report including description of gear failure mode according to ANSI/AGMA 1010-E95 standard;
  • give an interpretation of the failure;
  • make recommendations for improved operation and maintenance;
  • provide a complete scope of the repair with options, offering competitive price and delivery.

The company’s repair service includes the replacement of gears manufactured on uniGear’s premises: helical, spur, bevel, carburized and ground, up to AGMA 14 quality. uniGear employees will further refurbish all shafts, housing bores, etc.; assemble with the best components available using manufacturer’s specs; then test at application speed. uniGear offers a one-year warranty on repair.

In addition to these products and services, uniGear has ramped up its visibility in supplying high-speed gearing for transit systems, contracting with the Bay Area Rapid Transit System in San Francisco and also Montreal Urban Transit. “Rapid transit is very demanding,” he says, adding, “Our company motto is ‘smart technologies and competent people’.

An unusual blend of experience and modern technology characterizes every aspect of uniGear Inc. As the company says on its Web site, uniGear is a “place where challenges are continually met through the marriage of competent people and the finest gear manufacturing equipment available today.” As Mehra stresses: “You have to modernize and develop skills – that is what has kept us ahead.”

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