In 2002 three companies – Defiance Precision Products, Toledo Technologies and Sanco Automotive LTD. – merged to form the new Valve Train Group of GT Technologies, a division of Gentek Corporation. The new Valve Train Group is a division that designs, develops and delivers performance-critical valve train components such as stamped roller finger followers, cam follower rollers, and mechanical tappet assemblies and systems.
“All three companies supply products to various transportation industries for valve trains,” said Jack Buck, Director of Sales and Marketing, GT Technologies. “Toledo and Sandco make stamped components and Defiance Precision makes bearings that go into the stamped components, so the merger was a natural synergy.”
Toledo and Sandco traditionally focused on the automotive component business, especially mid-range diesel engines for trucks and SUVs, such as those found in the Ford Powerstroke. Defiance Precision Products has broader market coverage. Its bearings go into the valve trains made for gas powered passenger cars and light trucks, as well as heavy-duty diesel engines.
“We make complementary products and each is a very solid player in their respective niche market,” said Buck. “By merging the companies we are able to grow in the markets and become an even stronger competitor.”
Manufacturing strengths and sites
The new combined companies now have more than 530 employees working in eight facilities. GT Technologies’ corporate headquarters is in Perrysburg, Ohio. Its new Product Development Center is in Westland, Mich. Other sites are located in Toledo, Defiance (two facilities) and Sandusky, Ohio; and in Ontario, Hamilton and Guelph.
“Our locations in northwest Ohio allow easy access to all major modes of transportation,” said Buck. “From these locations we have ready access to service the continental United States as well as international destinations.”
Said Buck, grinding of hardened steel products is GT Technologies’ strength. Grinding capabilities include face grinding capability (including double disc type equipment); outside diameter grinding on various equipment (including through feed and infeed centerless); outside diameter profile grinding, and inside diameter grinding.
GT Technologies uses a variety of Multi Spindle Bar Machines to turn and machine bar stock material. The company’s capacity size range covers: 10 through 88 mm. Some bar machines are equipped with CNC profiling, threading, milling and polygon attachments. CNC lathes, CNC machining center and rotary indexing machines are also used to machine a wide variety of alloy and non-ferrous materials A variety of furnaces heat treat products. Both “batch type” furnaces and through feed “retort systems” are used. “We are capable of through hardening and case carburization in-house,” said Buck. “Production systems are also in place to induction harden high volume bearing components. All heat treated systems are supported by two metallurgical laboratories with complete hardness testers, micro-hardness testers and micro structure analysis. All furnace systems are computer controlled to ensure consistent heat-treated parts.”
Big 3 and beyond
All automotive suppliers aspire to count the Big Three – Ford, DaimlerChrysler and General Motors – as their customers. GT Technologies is a key supplier to all three of the Big Three, as well as numerous other automotive industry brands and off-road vehicle and equipment manufacturers.
“Since 1975, Ford has relied on GT Technologies to design and manufacture many of its critical engine components, many of which are developed in conjunction with Ford,” said Buck. Some of those parts include the Modular 3 valve roller follower, Duratech & Aston Martin roller follower and Powerstroke rocker arms.”
The company’s relationship with Daimler-Chrysler goes back 45 years. V-6 and V-8 modular roller followers, 4.0 L rocker arms and 3.3L & 3.8L RS rocker arm shaft assemblies are some of the components supplied to DaimlerChrysler. And for General Motors, GT Technologies supplies performance critical stamped components and assemblies for many of its overhead cam and overhead valve engines, such as L-85- & Northstar roller followers and High Value & Gen III V-6 roller rocker arms.
The new, combined client list is impressive: BMW, Robert Bosch, Mack Truck, Caterpillar, DAF, International (Navistar), Eaton, Kohler, John Deere, and Cummins.
“GT Technologies supplies 100 percent of the cam followers rollers and tappets for Cummins’ Engines worldwide,” said Buck. “The engineers at GT Technologies and Cummins work closely together, developing innovative products to meet the demands of Cummins’ engine applications.”
Standing the test
GT Technologies opened the new, expanded testing facility in Michigan in November 2003, consisting of 3,000 square meters of lab and office space with R&D, product development and product testing capabilities. Some of those capabilities include electric motor driven test cells, valve train development test cells, and a mechanical test area, as well as metallurgy and metrology labs.
According to Buck, it is critical for the company to stay on top of the ever-changing emission and fuel economy regulations that drive changes in engines. “Our products need to be part of any solution that meets new emission and fuel regulations, which most often means manufacturing lighter, stiffer and more durable components, capable of withstanding harsh environments. For example, for fuel economy reasons some of our customers are changing their oil requirements, which means that our components might encounter changes in wear characteristics, so we have to be proactive if we are to remain key suppliers.”
With more than 88 patents related to the design of valve train components and systems GT Technologies is no stranger to innovation. The company specializes in new product design and development, including prototyping.
“Successful product and process development requires ingenuity, manufacturing expertise, and engineering synergy,” said Buck. “We work directly with design and manufacturing engineers to make prototypes from hard tooling that simulate intended production processes and we provide computer-simulated testing, dynamometer testing, life-cycle fatigue testing and static load testing.”
At GT Technologies looking ahead means looking abroad. The company has already started to penetrate the European market, opening a new office in Germany.
Buck stressed that the company will continue to grow organically, but is still actively seeking to form partnerships for mergers and is looking for acquisition candidates in order to grow and supply an even wider breadth of products all over the world.
“The globalization of the company and our customer support are the critical long-term strategies,” said Buck. “We have a presence in China, South Korea and India. Having sales and tech support all over the world is a key first step before we consider building manufacturing facilities. But the fact is our customers are growing rapidly globally and we are being proactive to support them where they need us.”
As for the short term, GT Technologies is inextricably linked to how well the automotive market does. With solid long-term relationships with the Big Three and a list of blue chip brands that use GT Technologies’ valve train components, the road ahead appears clear and limitless.