TEAM Industries was founded in the 1960s with the goal of providing meaningful employment in Northern Minnesota. Today the company continues to do that and more with 1,300 highly skilled workers, who design and manufacture power train and chassis components at six manufacturing facilities in Minnesota, as well as a plant in North Carolina.Working with its OEM customers, TEAM Industries develops innovations in the design of powertrains and drivelines and applies those solutions to many markets; all-terrain vehicles, golf/utility cars, on- and off-road vehicles, motorcycles, agricultural and construction equipment, lawn/turf care, and marine. The company has also branched out to engine components, suspensions and other products through its manufacturing and assembly, research and development, design engineering, rapid prototyping and testing. OEM customers include top names such as John Deere, Bombardier Recreational Products, Dana, Eaton, Polaris, Ingersoll-Rand, Textron, Honda, Kawasaki and Yamaha.
Made to Order
Over the years, the company has put together an impressive list of technical capabilities at its plants. Specific manufacturing services include nearly every type of metal machining and fabricating, aluminum die-casting and squeeze molding capabilities, precision gear/spline manufacturing, in house plating, high-speed aluminum machining, even retail-ready packaging capabilities.
All told, several hundred CNC machining and turning centers provide flexibility in choice of equipment and scheduling to meet customers’ needs, as well as maximum productivity and cost effectiveness. High levels of robotic automation are used everywhere, says Marketing Director Steve Fagerlie, “We’ve always adopted the latest in manufacturing technology. We had the first CNC turning center in Minnesota in the 1970s and the first CNC gear-cutting machine in the 1980s. We continually seek out innovations and equipment that will carry TEAM into the future.”
In addition, TEAM offers CNC parallel-axis and crossed-axis gear manufacturing, CNC and manual gear honers, shavers and shapers. Numerous broaches and spline rollers provide splines and other features. Manual gear hobbers, bevel gear generators and in-house carburizing and induction hardening at three of its facilities round out TEAM’s gear producing abilities.
TEAM Industries’ capabilities are contained within 850,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Headquartered in Bagley, Minnesota, TEAM has other facilities located in Audubon, Detroit Lakes, Park Rapids, Baxter and Cambridge, Minn., as well as Andrews, N.C. “There’s a lot of integration within the facilities and we bring that to our customers,” explains Cambridge Plant Manager Mike Hipsher. “We have a wide variety of capabilities and we’re a one-stop shop. The company,” he adds, “also maintains strong metallurgical laboratories that support internal operations and customers’ efforts to develop new products.”
Design for the Future
To stay ahead of the competition, TEAM Industries continues to develop leading-edge technologies. “What we’re good at is taking the power from the OEM’s engine and getting it to the ground. That’s our business,” sums up Tony Passanante, Engineering Director. “We work with the OEM to model our product into their vehicle and test to make sure it meets or exceeds their specs. TEAM has built-up its engineering and R&D function, expanding from contract manufacturing.” Passanante says. “We have a number of new, pending patents and we’re building our intellectual property.”
In the area of design engineering, the company develops products that include transmissions, transaxles, wet brakes, continuously variable transmissions (CVTs) and automatically locking differentials. “We’ve advanced the science of CVTs to allow for a wider range of horsepower for various applications,” Fagerlie says. “We put a lot of R&D and design into improving that technology and we have a number of patented designs in these areas. The company,” he adds, “has also enhanced the engineering on advanced transmission systems.”
“We’ve recently developed an automatically-locking spur gear differential for the rear axle of ATVs and utility vehicles,” Fagerlie explains, “which has made this product more compact and narrow.” In addition, the company is working on computer-controlled front drive systems that can be used in any off-road vehicle. Through the utilization of sophisticated electronics, the vehicles will be able to sense and control wheel slippage.
Industry-leading innovations from TEAM Industries engineers, such as secondary CVTs used on snowmobiles and ATVs, are also sold directly to the consumer market. This, and many other ideas and concepts from the company, have become standard on snowmobiles. The fast, durable CVT transmission was proven on the toughest testing ground possible: snowmobile racing. This year, TEAM Industries’ professional racing team won the World Snowmobile Association points championship and every racer on the WSA circuit used the company’s secondary clutch. Racers also typically use a number of other technologies from the company, such as a torque-limiting sprocket that allows them to race harder and faster without breaking the driveline.
“We got into racing because it’s a great proving ground for innovation and design. If we can prove it in the racing world, we can prove our speed, toughness and durability to the OEM,” Passanante says. “In addition to racing, we have developed a strong testing function in our own extensive lab testing program. All products come with the insurance of rigorous testing.”
Next on TEAM’s horizon are engineering firsts in ATV and small vehicle drivelines, such as new wet brake technology in a design that’s enclosed and maintenance-free. The company is also moving into the quadracycle market: small car/utility vehicles used for many applications.
In TEAM’s Aftermarket Division, the company is seeking to enhance its brand image by marketing its advanced engineering products to get the attention of OEMs, as well as to lay a proving ground for its products among the racing circuit. Additionally, in the area of contract manufacturing, in which the company produces components as diverse as gas handling equipment, home appliance parts, and lawn and garden equipment, TEAM continues to improve on its skills and keep up with the latest technologies. By being vertically integrated with in-house heat treat and die-cast capabilities, TEAM plans to expand its reputation as a one-stop shop. “We can take on anything,” Fagerlie stresses, “from low volume to high, and from one component part to complete drive trains.”
While business growth has been somewhat flat in recent years, due to the challenges arising from Chinese competition, things have picked up lately, with sales increasing substantially this year. “If we are just making parts to print, it’s tough to beat their (overseas) labor,” Passanante observes of the global competition. “If we can offer intellectual property or manufacturing innovation, we win. We’ll always do some contract manufacturing however, our future growth depends on the ability to successfully innovate in our markets.”
His perspective is echoed by Fagerlie, who plainly adds, “We’ve seen most manufacturing challenges – and we can handle them.”