Geared up

Specialists in the field of custom gearboxes and gearwheels, Katsa Oy is based in Finland operates three factories – two in Tampere and one in Ikaalinen. Each site has its own focus with the Ikaalinen facility containing the production of gear blanks and machining of gear housing. One of the Tampere sites, Ilmailunkatu, houses the company’s headquarters, sales centre and production of gearwheels and the other is Katsa’s engineering office and assembly capability for gear units. These three facilities combined offer more than 13,400 square metres of production space. Katsa employs 200 personnel and achieved a turnover of approximately 40 million euros last year. Due to its quality requirements Katsa operates a network of European suppliers and subcontractors many of which it has developed long-standing contracts with. A family run company, Katsa places importance on long-term relationships with clients and excellent customer service, rather than focusing on short-term gains.

A world leading developer, Katsa engineers and produces gearboxes, gearwheels and transmission systems that are used in a variety of applications including the marine, energy and construction industries in paper machines, diesel engines, wind turbines and ships. Timo Salli, CEO of Katsa, highlights the key strengths of the business: “Unlike many other suppliers who just manufacture standard gearboxes, we tailor make our products to meet clients’ requirements. We have invested regularly in the company and so have built up a very good machining department where we produce consistently high quality gearboxes and parts. Being a slightly smaller company means we can be more flexible than our competitors and this, combined with our quality, is key to our success. We have seen cases where customers have tried using other manufacturers in China for example, and have then come back to us because they are unable to find the same level of quality that we offer.”

This reputation for quality is the result of 55 years of experience producing reliable, efficient and innovative products, and since 1993 Katsa has maintained the Quality Management System Standard ISO 9001 certificate. The company also holds certificates in occupational safety and environmental management and considers each of these factors in every stage of its production process.

Katsa’s gearboxes can be manufactured in small series production or as individual items as required. Its in-house engineering department has an expert knowledge of power transmission engineering that can be applied to all purposes. Katsa uses 2D and 3D modelling programmes when designing its gearboxes and can incorporate specialist programmes to calculate the gearboxes strength and operating life.

In total Katsa has 25 gear cutting machines and ten gear grinding machines for the production of gearwheels. These include the company’s 2009 investments, which were a Gleason-Pfauter P1200/1600 hobbing machine, and two gear grinding machines – Reishauer RZ 1000 and Gleason-Pfauter P1600G. As well as gear cutting, Katsa engineers gears with ground tooth flanks, internal spur gears, and worms and wormwheels. These gearwheels can be produced in a number of different classes such as DNV, ARS, KR, CCS, BV and GL to suit all requirements. Katsa operates a complete heat treatment department with four computer-controlled hardening furnaces capable of handling from one to five tonnes of material. The company’s diverse range of equipment incorporates modern technology where possible such as its computer numerically controlled (CNC) tools for measuring and milling gears and an automated production line for spur and helical gears. Other machinery includes ultrasonic inspection, grinding burn detection and magnetic particle examination designed to maintain quality and detect any flaws in the products before sale.

Although based in Finland, over 60 per cent of Katsa’s products are directly exported to other countries. Timo comments on the company’s export markets: “Direct export makes up a large part of the business and if you also count indirect export through Finnish export companies it is over 90 per cent. Our main market is in Europe and our biggest direct export country is Germany, which is the biggest industrial machine manufacturer and supplier in the world. Aside from Europe we also deliver products to the markets of Asia, China and the US.”

Over the last six years Katsa has invested over 20 million euros into its machines and systems to ensure its production processes remain up-todate. This forward thinking has meant that Katsa has maintained its leading status through the economic downturn, where other companies have struggled with less efficient machinery. Recently, due to the decline of the marine industry, this investment has been put on hold though Katsa has prepared a major investment plan that it will implement following the upturn of the industry, including new machinery and a new R&D department. Despite this low activity within the industry Katsa has been developing its special purpose marine gearboxes, which target the niche markets within the sector. It has also identified new markets to move into such as process machines and construction equipment. Another long-term development within the company is the increased incorporation of IT across Katsa’s systems to aid project management and solution development.

The flexible and adaptable nature of Katsa means it is able to take advantage of new opportunities and tailor its services to meet the needs of potential markets. Looking ahead, Timo focuses on Katsa’s ambitions for the future: “Currently there is a lot of discussion within Europe about the kind of businesses that will remain in this regional  sector and which will move into emerging markets of China and India. We believe that by producing accurate and quality products we can remain competitive within Europe as well as becoming a major presence in these other markets over the next five to ten years.”

90 per cent product export

Regular investment in machinery and systems

Bespoke gearboxes and gearwheel production