The Past and Present of The Timken Bearing Company

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The Past and Present of The Timken Bearing Company

Timken Bearing History

In the late 19th century, a German immigrant had an innovative dream that would eventually change the world. When Henry Timken developed the Timken Bearing Company in 1899, he knew that his concepts had the potential to improve carriage motion, but even he could not have conceived how Timken bearings would change the way that the world moves. Now the Timken Company is not only a worldwide leader in bearing production, they provide a wide spectrum of mechanical and industrial services that continues to keep the world in motion.

The Timken Company may have begun from a simple idea for better carriage motion, but a smart business model, innovative engineering and the changing circumstances in the world quickly pushed the company into the forefront of mechanical engineering. Timken bearings are now present in many of the machines that power the world around us, and the company has an important presence in many countries around the world. With over 14,000 employees in 28 countries, the Timken Company continues to be a leader in mechanical engineering worldwide.

The company is also one of the more socially conscious companies in the industry, with a strong presence in the communities around them. Focusing their efforts on helping the world move forward in more ways, the Timken Company expresses their company values by contributing to the development, health and safety of communities around the world. In addition to their philanthropic and efforts, Timken actively takes part in reducing the footprint they leave on the world as well as developing innovative solutions to help save the environment for generations to come.

Timken bearings have helped power much of the world for over 100 years, but innovation and a desire to improve the way the world moves continues to motivate the company to grow. Timken provides a wide range of quality engineered tapered, spherical, thrust, cylindrical, ball, miniature, plain, precision and housed units that are known for their reliability and strong performance. They also offer an impressive line of mechanical power transmission products through their growing portfolio of industrial brands. The company also offers a wide range of industrial services. Perhaps most importantly, the Timken Company leads by example in the industry, consistently exemplifying their values of keeping the world in motion through their philanthropic and environmental efforts.

The Beginning of Timken Bearings

Henry Timken was born in Germany in 1831. He moved to America with his family at the age of seven, and the family built a farm outside of St. Louis, Missouri. Henry wanted more than the family farm, however, and at a young age, he took an apprentice job under a well-known Missouri carriage maker. Henry’s brilliance and ambition helped to open his own carriage building company in St. Louis at the age of 24.

Timken’s carriage company thrived throughout the late 19th century, as he added his innovative engineering designs into the carriages his company built. At the time, the most famous of these innovations was the “Timken spring,” which he patented and made a fortune from. However, the importance of that invention would be dwarfed by the tapered roller bearing which he patented in 1898. In 1899, Timken and his sons would develop the Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company, which would quickly expand with the explosion of automobile production.Timken passed away in 1909, but his legacy would change the world of machinery forever.

Timken Bearings in a New Century

By 1901, the the Timken Roller Bearing Axle Company had relocated to Canton, Ohio in order to take advantage of the booming automobile industry. Canton proved to be the perfect location for the company, as they were always in close proximity to the automobile manufacturing centers of Cleveland and Detroit, as well as being close to the steel production center of Pittsburgh. Whereas Timken bearings had powered carriages and locomotives in the previous century, it was clear that cars, trucks and tractors were the way of the future.

Soon, it would prove that tanks were an important part of the new century, as World War I broke out in 1914. With the increased need for steel caused by the war and prevalent automobile use, company began a steel and tube building operation in a brilliant move of vertical integration. By the 1920s, Timken bearings were used in over 80 percent of the cars in the United States, and the company continued to broaden its reach into additional markets.

Although the focus continued to be on roller and ball bearing production, the company shortened its name to the Timken Company as it began to reach into additional industries. The company reached the peak of its profits and productivity in the 1950s and 60s. Significant expansion into other countries propelled Timken into a worldwide leader in bearing production and mechanical engineering in the middle of the 20th century.

Timken Bearings in a New Millennium

The Timken Company continued to focus on global expansion and industrial production throughout the rest of the 20th century. It also continued to acquire new companies and reach into other markets. In 2003, the company acquired its chief competitor in American bearing production– the Torrington Company. In 2014, the Timken Company separated the steel production into a separate company– TimkenSteel. Within the umbrella of the modern Timken Bearing Company are various other brands that contribute to industrial production including:

  • Lovejoy – Produces couplings, universal joints, hydraulic components and rubber suspension technology
  • Carlisle – Produces belts, sprockets and tools
  • Drives – Manufactures chains
  • InterLube – Produces multi-line lubrication systems
  • Philadelphia Gear – Inspection and gear repair for any system
  • Bii – Bearing repair for aerospace machinery
  • R + L Hydraulics – Manufacturers and distributes components for hydraulic technology

Timken Bearing

Timken Bearing Now

The Timken Company is now a worldwide leader in bearing production and has a hand in several other mechanical industries. They engineer and manufacture bearings and mechanical power transmission components such as gear drives, belts chains and couplings. The bearings are engineered with precision tolerances and their proprietary internal geometries. They are always made with the highest quality materials, and Timken bearings have become known for the consistency, reliability and high performance. The bearing product line includes:

  • Ball bearings
  • Cylindrical bearings
  • Housed units
  • Plain roller bearings
  • Precision roller bearings
  • Spherical bearings
  • Tapered roller bearings
  • Thrust bearings

The company also produces a variety of tools and parts such as seals, lubrication systems, couplings and universal joints, bearing heaters, lifting tools and mounting accessories. Timken not only produces high-quality bearings, but a complete array of accessories and tools needed for them. Along with the various brands under their umbrella, Timken provides a growing portfolio of mechanical power transmission products including augers, encoders (sensors), gearboxes and many more. Their variety of machinery solutions is known for reliability and efficiency, and these systems are all designed for their core principle of “keeping the world in motion.”

The Timken Company also provides a wide range of industrial repair and rebuilding services. This includes a broad spectrum of Timken bearing repair, upgrade and service solutions. Through their Timken Power Systems line, they also offer complete overhauls of gearboxes, transmissions, and motors. One of the most interesting and innovative aspects of this area of the company includes the bearing inspection and repair services for aerospace machinery through the brand of Bearing Inspection, Inc. (Bii). Some of the most advanced engineering goes into the aerospace bearing repair, but Timken is known to provide innovative solutions in every aspect of industrial machinery.

Keeping the World in Motion

The Timken Bearing Company’s concepts of keeping the world in motion and making the world work better are not only exemplified in the quality of their products and services, but also in the way the impact the world around them. They use their vision and knowledge to continually improve the performance, efficiency, and reliability of the world’s machines, and they translate this set of principles to the people of the world.

The people who produce and distribute Timken Bearing understand their role of global citizenship, and they take this role seriously. The company has a rich tradition of supporting communities around the world through community leadership, volunteering, and financial support. In order to have the most meaningful impact, the company focuses on three main areas for their philanthropic efforts.

  • Education – Through the Timken Global Scholars program and the Timken Company Charitable and Educational Fund grant program, Timken helps students around the world reach their full potential.
  • Economic and Community Development – Employees and executives at Timken spend hours volunteering in the communities where they live and work. The company also donates thousands of dollars each year towards the economic needs of these communities.
  • Human Service – Timken collaborates with some of the world’s most prevalent charitable organizations, including United Way, Habitat for Humanity and many regional food banks.

Although Timken Bearing started with an innovative idea by a young immigrant, this company is now a leader in bearing production and industrial engineering. From humble beginnings, improving the motion of horse-drawn carriages to a leader in steel and automobile bearings to an industry leader in aerospace bearings, Timken bearings have come quite a long way in the last 118 years.