A few years ago, two companies joined forces to greatly enhance productivity in heavy milling and crankshaft machining. Their combined efforts resulted in solutions to improve throughput and reduce costs by a factor of four in some cases.
One of these was Ohio Crankshaft Co. (OCCO), Cleveland. It produces large crankshafts, camshafts, and other custom critical components for diesel engines, pumps, and other reciprocating equipment. OCCO was machining locomotive and tugboat crankshafts from steel forgings, and it was taking from four to six hours with one shaft machined per two indexes of the carbide inserts. “We really felt there must be a more efficient way to do this,” said OCCO Director of Engineering Greg Stem. “We’ve worked with Greenleaf for a long time, so we talked with them about potential solutions for this application.”
Greenleaf Corp., Saegertown, Pa., is a leading supplier of industrial cutting tools, specializing in manufacturing high-performance carbide and ceramic inserts, innovative toolholding systems, and custom-designed tooling solutions. “Special tooling is one of Greenleaf’s greatest areas of expertise, so we started working closely with the engineers at OCCO,” said Denny Carpenter, sales & service engineer for Greenleaf. The current cutter bodies were altered to encapsulate a segmented design, which allowed for more insert pockets. This meant that 25 percent more inserts could be applied to the parts, resulting in faster feed rates. The heat resistance of Greenleaf’s GA5036, a CVD-coated carbide grade, made it the ultimate choice for high-speed milling of the forged steel. OCCO’s machine was also mechanically upgraded to allow for higher cutting speeds.
The cycle time was reduced to under two hours with four shafts machined per index of the carbide inserts. Greenleaf and OCCO managed these productivity gains to the benefit of both companies and proved that combining efforts can produce exponential results.
Both companies celebrated milestone anniversaries in 2020: Greenleaf was 75 and OCCO was 100 years old.
Greenleaf traces its roots back to the early 1940s, when Walter J. Greenleaf, Sr. sold tungsten carbide tooling systems to the steel industry in Western Pennsylvania. Greenleaf was formed in 1945 and began designing and marketing a diverse line of products for the machine tool industry. The company moved into manufacturing in 1960. In 1969, Greenleaf was the first to introduce CVD-coated carbide inserts to the U.S. marketplace, according to the company.
Over the next 44 years, Greenleaf grew in market share through the development of its technological capabilities and product line. Walter J. Greenleaf, Jr. assumed the presidency from his father in 1966. The company capitalized on its line of carbide products by engineering innovations in the areas of ceramic, ceramic composites, and custom-designed toolholding systems.
OCCO’s history began in May 1920 in a small garage in Cleveland run by two engineers: William C. Dunn and Francis S. Denneen. By 1922, the company was growing so rapidly that it was moved to a larger facility located only a few miles from the current location.
In 1934, the company’s founders developed a proprietary process using high-frequency electrical current that could selectively heat, harden, or melt metals. They named it the TOCCO process, an acronym for The Ohio Crankshaft Co. Using the process, steel parts could be heated and hardened within seconds and produce parts with wear resistance that were far superior to other technologies at the time. The Packard automobile was the first car to use an induction-hardened crankshaft. Other automobile manufacturers would soon follow suit.
The current home of OCCO was built in 1938, and a second plant was built almost directly across the street in 1940. Both plants were war-time factories that produced crankshafts for military trucks, tanks, and war planes. In March 1945, OCCO was awarded the prestigious “E” Award by the U.S. Army and Navy (also known as the Army-Navy Production Award) for excellence in production in support of the war effort. By the end of the war, only 5 percent of more than 85,000 companies involved in producing material for the United States military had won the award.
OCCO built TOCCO machines that were sold throughout the U.S. and Europe. By 1951, the demand for TOCCO machinery was so great that a new plant dedicated solely to the manufacture of TOCCO machines was built just a few miles away from their current plant. In 2001 the plant on Harvard Avenue was named a historical landmark by ASM International as “the site of the first production application of selective induction hardening of steel parts.”
In 1967, the Ohio Crankshaft Co. merged with Park Drop Forge, founded in 1907, to become Park-Ohio Industries, with its world headquarters in Cleveland. Today, Park-Ohio is a global diversified holding company with over 130 manufacturing, distribution, and service facilities that employ over 7,000 with locations in 20 countries.
Throughout the last several decades, OCCO’s crankshafts and camshafts have been used in tugboats, oil drilling equipment, locomotives, buses, pumps, compressors, trucks, heavy-duty construction equipment, and high-velocity water pressure cleaning equipment. OCCO continues to produce new locomotive crankshafts and camshafts and refurbishes the cranks and cams that were produced in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s—a tribute to their lasting quality and workmanship.