WOOSTER — Schaeffler turned its local operation over to producing torque converters almost 25 years ago and this month, it reached a remarkable milestone of 30 million torque converters produced.
Schaeffler started its operations on Old Airport Road in the late 1970s with a small team of employees assembling clutches for manual transmission. It has since grown into one of Wayne County’s largest employers.
“During the time, Schaeffler’s Wooster plant has gone through many transformations — but none has had a greater impact on the growth and development of the facility and its employees as the decision to start building and selling torque converters,” a press release from the company stated.
Schaeffler transitioned to manufacturing medium- and heavy-duty torque converters within a year of signing an agreement with Allison Transmission. The Wooster plant expanded to design, engineer and validate next-generation torque converters.
The facility’s successful product development optimization quickly resulted in new business from General Motors that uses the first Schaeffler-designed torque converter.
To meet the increased production demand, the Wooster plant implement a high-volume manufacturing concept that formed the basis for assembly lines that are still used today for torque converter production at Schaeffler plants around the world.
“While many factors have been key to the continuous growth of our business in Wooster, the most important contribution comes from the incredible passion and collaborative spirit of the entire Schaeffler team,” said Thomas Heck, business unit torque converter president.
What is a torque converter?
The 30th million torque converter came off the line on March 5. The torque converter is an essential component of the transmission system that takes over the tasks of the conventional clutch, according to the Schaeffler website.
Unlike a classic clutch system, there is no direct connection between the engine and the transmission — power is transmitted with the aid of a fluid, usually oil.
A corporate reorganization in 2002 placed the global lead of Schaeffler’s torque converter business in Wooster with Marc McGrath at the helm. McGrath now serves as the CEO of Schaeffler in the Americas.
‘More than a remarkable milestone’
“30 million torque converters is more than a remarkable milestone; it is a testament to the passion for excellence that our team in Wooster demonstrates every day,” McGrath said in the release.
“Our commitment to providing our automotive customers with the best solutions for the vehicles of today and tomorrow is one of the reasons why Wooster was also selected to help shape the future of electrification of Schaeffler’s center for advanced e-Mobility development in the Americas region.”
The transition toward e-mobility is seen in the Wooster plant’s production of hybrid modules for the electrified versions of the Ford Explorer and F-150. The core component of Schaeffler’s new hybrid module is a torque converter.
“The torque converter now provides the path through hybrid modules into a fully electrified world. This will allow Schaeffler to remain a step ahead of the competition, which will secure our future for many decades to come,” said Patrick Lindemann, president of transmission systems and e-Mobility Americas, in the release.