Bearings enhance equipment performance and reduce energy and lubricant consumption. Growing application of bearings in various industrial sectors and the demand growth of heavy machinery for construction, mining and material handling applications are driving the demand for industrial bearings. Asia-Pacific is the most dominating region for bearings globally, led by China and India. The growing infrastructure and construction segments are driving the demand for high-capacity bearings in India.
The construction and mining activities in the country are set to take a faster pace in the coming days with the government drawing its roadmap of long-term infrastructure development. This has opened up new growth avenues for the construction equipment (CE) market in the country. Bearing manufacturers are looking at this trend positively.
Another interesting trend evolving is the consolidation of global production in India. "With the present government's focus on infrastructure build, demand for construction equipment and consequently, for bearings, has been healthy," says Sanjay Koul, Managing Director, Timken India.
Kaustubh V Phadtare, Managing Director, Kavitsu Transmissions is of the view that the market for industrial bearings is progressing exponentially. "Every year, the growth is upwards, with demands increasing every passing day." According to Ramnath Shenoy, Executive Director, NTN Bearings India, the outlook for FY2019 to FY2020 is very good. "Last year, the demand was outstripping supply, leading to shortage in many series. We expect the situation to continue in the coming year also," he adds.
Construction equipment OEMs are exploring new technologies that provide productivity and fuel efficiency to the machines. With the next level emission regulations are around the corner, CE manufacturers are adopting clean energy sources and methods to stay in the market. Koul says, "For instance, currently the industry is working on hybrid transmission (which works with both electric and conventional fuel), for CEs with an emphasis on uniform design among multiple machines and platforms, and Timken with its knowledge in TRB and friction management, supports them in the same for an appropriate bearing selection."
According to Shenoy, the operating conditions are very severe with high impact load and severe dust or water-ingress. Pre-mature failure could lead to safety issues. According to Phadtare, manufacturers are now more inclined towards using a complete set of driving mechanisms, which include a slew bearing, a planetary gearbox with pinion and a housing. This helps them in reducing the required space and makes the design more compact and efficient.
Sanjay Tomar, General Manager, CCTY Bearing India is of the view, "The current trend in construction equipment as well as other industrial applications is to move towards "bearing assemblies" (the housing and bearing delivered as a single unit) rather than sourcing individual component. Bearing assemblies allow the end-user to reduce overall costs, consolidate suppliers and streamline in-house production."
Opportunities and challenges
The major opportunity is obviously the stable government that can take the infrastructure development of the country forward with more forward-looking measures. This will create more business to construction equipment market and so the bearings market.
According to Shenoy, India is a growing economy and demand for bearings from all markets has been growing. Phadtare is optimistic about the new socio-political situation in the country as he comments, "With the second term of Modi government, we are expecting exponential progress in "Make in India" schemes. New road projects are already coming up and that will drive the demand for CE equipment's and in turn the bearing requirement high."
Going forward, Asia-Pacific is projected to observe the fastest growth in terms of sales, accounting for over $60 billion by 2025. China is one of the major markets, and the sales in the country are expected to catapult over the foreseeable years stimulated by the rapid expansion of machinery and motor vehicle production, coupled with a strong aftermarket for industrial equipment and motor vehicle repair. Moreover, the robust construction and mining equipment market in India is estimated to facilitate the growth through 2025.