Featured in the May/June 2013 Issue of Wire Rope Exchange
By: Peter Hildebrandt
For Connecticut manufacturer, the sky’s the limit
Wire rope manufacturer Loos & Co., Inc., is nestled in the quiet northeast corner of Connecticut. But that fact has done nothing to keep the firm from being right in the thick of things with respect to the industry’s latest developments and technologies. Since its humble beginnings in 1958 – in a garage in Pomfret, CT, the company has grown by continuing to produce quality wire rope products for over half a century.
A.W. “Gus” Loos and his wife, Joan, founded the firm by initially reselling cable, and then purchasing the machinery needed for manufacturing cable, jacketing cable, and producing cable assemblies. Today, the Loos & Company operations in Connecticut measure 220,000 square feet and employ approximately 300 people, manufacturing products that are used in aerospace, military, and commercial applications, including aircraft flight controls, elevators, fitness equipment, rigging, and scaffolding operations.
A significant portion of their business, Loos & Company proudly produces aircraft cable and assemblies for many of the best-known aviation companies worldwide. The company has been designated as a Certified Parts Licensee by Lockheed Martin, a global security, aerospace, and information technology company whose principal clients are the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. federal government agencies. “As a Certified Parts Licensee,” explains Tina Privee, Product Manager at Loos & Company, “we are authorized to produce C-130 B-H Cable Assemblies, Lockclad Assemblies, and Wire Rope Assemblies for use on Lockheed aircraft.”
Fulfilling its role as a Certified Parts Licensee includes affixing a hologram to the parts to ensure quality and consistency. Each hologram is unique to the part it’s placed on, including that particular day’s batch or the individual work order. The hologram will never be duplicated, and it serves as Lockheed’s proof that the parts are indeed Lockheed-certified. If a part does not feature the hologram, Lockheed cannot use it, Privee points out. “There are actually only a few manufacturers of parts for the C-130s B through H Series. These are military transport planes for equipment and weapons,” she adds. “The whole purpose is to make it exclusive, and we like that we are a qualified manufacturer for Lockheed.”
“We are basically a one-stop shop,” she continues, “because we make it from scratch, buying rod raw material, drawing down wire and using it in our rope mounts. If you need assemblies made, we can do that, too, because we have our own shop in-house.”
Due to the large number of aircraft that still have mechanical flight controls and landing gear, it will likely be decades before the company runs out of work in that area, according to Privee.
In addition to Lockheed Martin, Loos & Company supports a handful of other aerospace companies, including Boeing Co. and Bombardier, Inc.
As the world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing is a leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space, and security systems. It’s also a top U.S. exporter, supporting airlines and U.S. and allied government customers in 150 countries. Its products and services include commercial and military aircraft, satellites, weapons, electronic and defense systems, advanced information and communication systems, and performance-based logistics and training.
Similar to its role with Lockheed Martin, Loos & Company has been heavily involved with Boeing’s Parts Manufacturing Authority (PMA) for flight control cable assemblies. Instead of holograms, these parts are labeled with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) tags to ensure quality control.
Loos & Company is currently certified to make and sell about 5,000 parts with Boeing part numbers to airlines, essentially all commercial after-market outfits, provided that the order is supplied with the FAA tag. The PMA certification simply means that a part from Loos & Company is as good as one that comes directly from Boeing, according to Privee.
A Loos & Company employee is certified as a manufacturing inspector for the FAA. As part of the company’s qualifications, it must work through the FAA, explains Privee. “I coordinate all of these efforts through Lockheed and Boeing. We’ve been involved with this program for a number of years and it’s been a good program for us financially.”
Another key contract for the wire rope firm is Bombardier, Inc., a leading Canadian manufacturer of trains and aircraft, including business jets, commercial aircraft, high-speed trains, and public transit. As a Bombardier Aerospace Approved Supplier, Loos & Company supports both Bombardier’s production and spare parts divisions.
As with Lockheed Martin and Boeing, approved source control is an important facet of the Bombardier program. To that end, Loos & Company is audited on an annual basis to ensure that all of its processes are in compliance with the company’s standards. Loos & Company doesn’t mind being reviewed on an annual basis and passing inspections. “This review process is how companies maintain quality,” Privee points out.
Recently, the company became certified as AS-9100 Rev. C, a quality management standard that focuses on product safety and reliability for the defense and commercial aerospace industry. According to Privee, anybody who’s anybody in the aerospace industry must be qualified as a Rev. C. She serves as an internal auditor for this certification. Though she has been in this position for 17 years, Privee continues to enjoy the challenges of the work. “We’re a strong company, and we’ve got our specialties, including a good handle on what’s going on in the aircraft market that is not just bulk cable, but includes all the assemblies to make us a one-stop shopping destination.”
Indeed, the company’s specific specialties make it unique—and perhaps indispensable—to the aerospace industry.
“The modern flight of fighter aircraft doesn’t have much aviation cable inside,” explains Robert Davis, Sales and Marketing Manager for Loos & Company “There is, however, a lot of cable that surrounds our war-fighting capabilities, be it hoisting various apparatus or operating triggering mechanisms. For U.S. Naval operations, we have manufactured mine-sweeping cable that is towed behind a naval craft to sweep an area to eliminate mines. This is done with a non-magnetic cable so that none of the magnetic mines will be triggered.”
Other applications include tow-target cables, a smaller diameter armored cable that’s wrapped with a protective sheath and released from the back of a larger aircraft. It actually tows a target for target practice. Those cables run in excess of 10,000 feet in length so that the target is nearly two miles behind whatever aircraft is pulling it.
“Loos & Company is very diverse in our product offering, and we do continue to market such cable,” add Davis. “But the largest percentage of what we provide to the aerospace and military is aircraft cable for flight controls and various other program-oriented operations.”
For these reasons, Loos & Company makes an emphasis to generate as much military and government business as possible, he notes. With such a wide array of work and continuing innovations for new wire rope applications to its credit, Loos & Company is well equipped for so many different operations and tasks, and is always finding its way into an engineer’s design.
As Davis sees it, “when you have an industry such as the domestic wire rope industry, and suppliers such as Loos & Company—consistently making high-quality products that fit the bill in being able to cycle and work in a design that doesn’t fail during usage—then you can keep designing products of that nature.” He continues, “Wire rope products have withstood the test of time and quality. While one particular system may change, there is always another one on its heels.” A military design engineer may decide that the use of wire rope in an application remains the best option simply because of its track-record and proven versatility.
And one can expect that Loos & Company will be ready and able to fulfill those orders, prolonging its well-established tradition of quality, consistency, and versatility.
For more information about Loos & Company, visit: www.loosco.com