NSI Crankshaft has seen its corporate identification change so many times now that it might not know its own name.
“Sometimes, it gets confusing, even for us,” says Sales Manager Jeff Yount. You sense the wry smile in his comment.
“We were established in 1950 as Norton Manufacturing,” he continues. “That’s how it was until October 2008, when Sumitomo Metal Industries and Sumitomo Corporation, of Japan, acquired the growing business. That purchase meant that we became SMI Crankshaft, with 60 percent owned by Sumitomo Metal Industries and 40 percent Sumitomo Corporation.”
Complicating the picture, in October 2012, Sumitomo Metal merged with Nippon Steel, to become Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal Corporation (NSSMC).
“That’s when it became really complicated,” relates Yount. Nippon Steel & Sumikin Crankshaft LLC became trademarked as SMI Crankshaft, but by September 2013, the trade name changed to NSI Crankshaft.
“All of that’s quite a mouthful,” concedes Yount.
The name may have changed as many times as a fashionista puts on a new dress, but when the company looks in the mirror, it knows its own face. This Fostoria, Ohio-based company has a clear sense of identity – its purpose is not as quicksilver as its name; it is set as permanent as forged steel. It knows what it does best for the company and the customer.
Indeed, what’s more important is its focus and activities. “Our primary business is precision machining, and that leads into our main focus, which is crankshaft machining,” says Yount.
By 2008, a year of acquisition, its crankshaft manufacturing became very vertically integrated relates Yount, providing what could be the opening sentence of a company chapter that pushes the narrative forward. “From three locations – Japan, Kentucky [Georgetown], and Ohio – we can do whatever is necessary.”
These might seem far-flung locations that distance themselves from each other and the company mission and spreads the overall organization thin. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. “With these facilities, we can offer customers a high level of vertical integration,” says Yount. “We start with raw steel manufacturing and carry it through to the raw forging process. Then we will do the hardening and the tempering. Following that, we’ll accomplish the finish machining and assembly, and we even do the shipping. In Japan we make steel and we forge crankshafts and in Kentucky, we forge crankshafts. The Ohio location complements the other operations with its machining, heat treating, and assembly capabilities.”
As such, NSI Crankshaft is there with customers every step of the way – the kind of comprehensive approach that has become necessary in the post-2008 economic environment. Welcome to the new “normal.” Those that survive will be those that provide.
A look at the company from the 30,000-foot perspective reveals that NSI Crankshaft – the world’s only completely vertically integrated global crankshaft manufacturer – is a leader when it comes to precision-machined crankshafts deployed in engines, pumps and compressors. Despite the fact that locations reside throughout the world, it is a metaphorical “under one roof” enterprise that provides steel making, forging, machining, and heat treatment – capabilities that are made possible with its strong relationships with the other subsidiaries of the Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation. This global and vertical integration ensures full control of the manufacturing process. Customers benefit from consistent and high-quality solutions that meet their specific requirements.
To review, the Ohio-based entity now known as NSI Crankshaft was established on October 22, 2008 after Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation acquired 100 percent of Norton Manufacturing’s assets, and the parent company prefers that NSI Crankshaft continues machining crankshafts for its specified markets: automotive, diesel, military, and the oil and gas industry.
With its vertically integrated structure, NSI Crankshaft presents customers with the opportunity – even the ability – to find the steel grade and steel chemistry that they require, says Yount. “We meet with the engineering designers and look at elements such as fatigue strength required, we make the appropriate recommendations, and provide a specific grade and chemistry that meets engine demands,” he reports. “Also, our experience fosters the best balance, optimal forging stock, and overall forging design. Final design requirements are met.”
Service is not only comprehensive but cost effective. “Taking our business advantage one step further, we provide the most competitive cost manufacturing,” says Yount. “If you look closely at our industry, you’ll see that some companies are able to do the forging. Others can do the machining, and sometimes even some forging. But we can do it all, which makes us unique.”
Tim Hasegawa, NSI Crankshaft’s executive vice president, adds that it is more than just about convenience. “It’s about garnered knowledge and experience, and applying that to the customer’s business,” he explains. “A forging company may not know much about steel making. Similarly, a steel making company may have to outsource its forging. But we have the resources – human and technical – to provide whatever is needed under one company name.”
NSI Crankshaft boasts a 205,000-square-foot manufacturing facility located in Fostoria. Its location is strategic, as it resides in an epicenter of major highways and railway access. Within this facility, technologic advancements such as CNC mills, manual and automatic grinders, CBN grinders, MQL drills, lathes, and polishing tools. Muscle meets the mechanical.
The company serves a pretty broad spectrum of markets and industries including:
- Automotive (passenger vehicles and light duty trucks);
- Diesel (heavy/medium duty, high horsepower, and light duty rucks);
- Specialty (agriculture, power generation, the marine, and military sectors);
- Oil/gas pump(high-pressure fract and high-pressure slury/concrete); and
NSI Crankshaft can also boast a high-profile list of clients. It regularly does work for Chrysler, Ford, and GM (light truck and sports car engines). With its truck and industrial engines, NSI has garnered steady business from big-name players such as AM General, John Deere, Mack, Navistar, and Volvo.
When it comes to marine applications, the company lists Ilmore and Mercury Marine as its steady customers. Oil and gas clients that benefit from NSI’s innovative pumps include Baker Hughes, FTSI, Gardner Denver, Halliburton, JMAC Tool, and Weir SPM.
The company’s manufacturing methodology takes in phases such as processing, engineering, design, and quality control. In the processing phase, NSI utilizes state-of-the-art equipment that’s selected to meet specific needs of each order. This entails:
- Complete crankshaft manufacturing from raw material to finished part;
- Engineering develop ment support from single piece billet to high volume production;
- Working envelope for crankshafts of 3-inch to 20-inch diameter by 10-inch to 74-inch length; and
- Capacity for Quick Start production, from 10-piece orders to 100,000 per year.
These elements make NSI Crankshaft a high-production, cost-effective enterprise.
Manufacturing design capabilities include specialized fixture design and development, precision gauge design, and multistage process plans involving heat treatments. As far as quality control, NSI Crankshaft is ISO-certified.
Also, Yount underscores the value of the company’s vertical integration by looking at the Oil and Gas sector. “That’s a very cyclical market,” he points out. “There tends to be periods of three-year growth followed by a sharp drop off. Compared to our other markets, it’s a tough sector to manage. But it has become an increasingly important market for us, and we are managing the market because we can bring into it our vertical integration. Many of the companies in this industry have never seen such a thing before. We may be in a downtrend right now, but we are optimistic, as demand inevitably returns.”
So NSI Crankshaft abides – and it endures.