An American Steel Producer's Continuing Efforts to Provide Value to the Automobile Industry 930959
This paper describes how one American steel producer has been able to provide value which has benefitted the automotive industry in the past and how it is striving to provide value now and intends to do so for many decades into the future. As an alloy steel bar and tube manufacturer serving the automotive industry since its infancy, the Company has had to conquer many serious problems and challenges over the years. The current challenge is doing business as an American company in today's growing global society. In addition to overcoming the obstacles created by today's business environment, it will take continued innovativeness to provide value to the customer.
THE THOUGHT OF MAKING STEEL probably never entered the mind of Henry Timken, the Company's founder, who spent most of his career producing carriages, buggies, and wagons. He was more concerned with friction in the axle bearings and what he could do to reduce it. When other men his age were thinking about retiring, he was busy designing and testing bearings. The patented tapered roller bearing that the Company makes today proudly carries his name . The fruits of his experimental efforts have inspired the aggressive research and development activities that are a trademark of the Company (Figure 1),
The authors intend to point out the results of these research and development activities, many of which were aimed toward improving the state of the art of tapered roller bearings. Timely decisions relative to investments in people and facilities have doubly benefitted the automotive industry, which not only purchases tapered roller bearings, but is one of the Company's major steel customers.
The initial application of the bearing to wheeled vehicles was so successful that the carriage business, which was located in St. Louis, was sold, and in 1901, the tapered roller bearing axle business was launched in Canton, Ohio, This location was chosen because of its proximity to the area where fledgling automobile companies were springing up as well as its proximity to the supply of steel.