Sargent seeks synergy by reorganizing units

 - July 16, 2010, 1:47 AM

Sargent Aerospace & Defense is investing in extensive new facilities and reorganizing itself to be ready for what it anticipates will be an upturn in the aerospace market during the second half of 2011. The 90-year-old U.S. company has initiated a strategic realignment plan resulting in the integration of its four main manufacturing operations for OEMs and others for aftermarket support services.

According to Sargent president Scott Still, the reorganized company will be more efficient and better equipped to implement its plans to grow both market presence and develop new areas of business activity. He also wants the company to be better able to support its growing international customer base.

Historically, Sargent (Hall 2 Stand A7) has consisted of five main units:
• The Controls unit is the sole source of the quieting hydraulic valve technology used in submarines and also manufactures hydraulic valves and actuators for Boeing and Airbus;

• The Sonic unit makes high-strength fasteners for commercial and military aircraft;

• The Kahr Bearing product line supplies self-lubricating liner wear surface bearings used for rotors on military helicopters;

• The Airtomic group manufactures alignment joints and pneumatic sealing devices, along with another facility for engine machining in Montreal; and

• Sargent Aftermarket Services is a Part 145 MRO servicing over 20,000 components found on most commercial aircraft.

“All five units worked independent of one another, so we’ve decided to bring them all together under the Sargent Aerospace & Defense brand, directly reporting to the management team at our Tucson [Arizona] headquarters,” Still told AIN. “By coordinating all our resources we can provide better value throughout all our engineered solutions. We will keep the legacy names as product brands, reduce unnecessary resource duplication and share talent among the units–all of which will help us gain more work on civil and military platforms.”

 
Increasing Capacity
As part of its restructuring, the company is expanding facilities at its headquarters near Tucson, where some 250 of its workforce of some 750 to 800 are currently employed. It has bought a four-acre lot on which plans to build a 70,000-sq-ft facility to be completed in March 2011.

The increased manufacturing capacity is required to support the growth of key programs, such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 airliners, and Lockheed Martin’s
F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The additions will include product qualification and engineering laboratories, as well as new high- velocity oxy-fuel spray technology. Over the next 18 months, Sargent also intends to implement this environmentally friendly alternative to chrome plating at its facility in Torrance, California.  

 
Expansion plans also include an investment of $3.5 million in an MRP manufacturing resource planning system that will tie all the company’s operations together so they can better communicate. “This will allow us to focus on providing value to our customers rather than worrying about different accounting systems, supply chains and so on. We can rechannel those resources into new product development and marketing,” he said.

“We’re looking at each of our product lines to add value,” added Rich McManus, vice president and general manager of Sargent’s OEM group. “All our customers want reduced supplier bases. Most of what we do is engineering these solutions on critical platforms.”

One product development that Sargent is contemplating would be a new Kahr bearing liner for fixed- and rotary-wing applications. This has been prompted primarily by the need to provide a more durable bearing liner for military helicopters having to operate in the harsh environmental conditions encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Having one an initial production contract from an airframer or tier-one supplier, Sargent has often then been asked to design and source other related components. The expansion of the Tucson facility will boost its engineering and production capacity.

MRO Business
As part of efforts to boost its aftermarket presence, Sargent also is investing in its MRO facilities in Miami, Florida, and Franklin, Indiana. These are now certified by the aviation authorities of the U.S., Europe and China to repair thousands of components. They also provide parts and components inventory, as well as offering asset management solutions.

In May, Sargent signed a $1 million deal with MRO provider Texas Aero Engine Services (TAESL). Under the terms of the contract, which is already under way, Sargent is conducting component overhaul of tubes, ducts and manifolds used on the Rolls-Royce RB211-535 engine. There are more than 60 applicable part numbers among these turbofan components, and this potentially will generate more than 1,000 repairs per year at the Franklin facility from its first contract with TAESL.