Demand for locally-manufactured bearings has been rising
What are some of the biggest challenges that SKF faces in the current market and how is the company addressing them?
The last two years have been challenging for the overall business landscape. Businesses have had to manage supply chain issues including sourcing bottlenecks, cost pressures, unprecedented inflation in commodity prices, and uncertain economic environments. However, through strong cost discipline and timely pricing actions, we were able to mitigate some of the effects of inflation, while continuing to serve our customers.

SKF in India has a long-standing presence in the country. We recently celebrated our 100th-anniversary milestone. Over the past 100 years, SKF has maintained technology leadership, making progressively higher-performing, and lower-friction products to meet developing customer needs.

To realise our strategic goals, we will continue to actively strengthen our competitive position within each of our business segments, maintain customer-centricity, and invest in our people’s capabilities. As a future-ready manufacturing organisation, we will focus on driving operational efficiencies such as automation, to drive future competitiveness.

What is SKF's approach to innovation and product development, and how does the company ensure that its products are meeting the needs of customers in the construction equipment industry?
Innovation and technology leadership has been at the heart of the SKF culture right from the start. With our strategic framework of intelligent and clean growth, we are enabling a more sustainable industry. We are focusing on high-growth segments and sectors where our technological edge will support customers striving for a sustainable future. We are accelerating the development of new technologies, such as solutions for electric vehicles, as well as a range of products for industrial applications. Moreover, to better serve a wider range of customers and capture future growth, we are increasing our regional capabilities to reduce our reliance on imports from other regions, making us stronger, more flexible and more competitive in a range of applications.

SKF has decades of experience working with the construction equipment industry to address some of its most pressing concerns around downtime, productivity, and costs. Our pioneering products and solutions help customers achieve improved productivity, reliability, reduced environmental impact, and improved health and safety. For example, components such as bearings, seals and lubricants play a key role in improving rotating equipment performance. Meanwhile, our smart lubrication systems help automate the maintenance process, and reduce costs, while conditioning monitoring spots for early signs of component damage to prevent downtime.

What are some of the most exciting new developments or innovations that SKF is currently working on in the bearing industry?
Across the world, 20 per cent of all energy is used to overcome friction. Our aim is to minimise that. With a strategic focus on intelligent and clean technology, we are developing solutions needed to help make industries competitive and sustainable. We have developed new hybrid deep grove ball bearings for high-speed applications such as traction motors as well as electric machines and drives. By improving the efficiency of electric machines and drives, the new bearing can cut energy consumption.

By remanufacturing existing bearings, we are offering industries considerable benefits, including lower life-cycle costs and less unwanted downtime. In addition, remanufacturing can help industries accelerate their transition to net zero. Through our flexible fee-based solutions like Rotating Equipment Performance (REP) packages, we are helping customers enhance their equipment maintenance programmes without the need for large capital investment. Another example is SKF RecondOil where we can bring significant financial, environmental, and performance benefits to an increasingly broader range of industries and applications.

Recently, we provided customers in SKF Bearing Select with a quick and easy calculation tool of estimated CO2e emission during bearing manufacturing and bearing use phase, including consumed energy and amount of grease. With this launch, we became the first bearing company with a CO2e estimation capability for customers.

Looking ahead, we will continue to leverage our engineering and technology capabilities to work closely with our customers, identify their areas of concern, and develop products and solutions that help them achieve desired growth objectives.

How is the demand for localisation of Industrial bearing progressing?
The government is focused on positioning India as a global manufacturing hub and has launched several supportive policies including the PLI scheme to promote manufacturing in the country. As a result, domestic manufacturing is undergoing several changes in terms of technology adoption, process improvement, and new product development. The demand for locally manufactured bearings has been steadily rising as well. Our manufacturing footprint in the country has been successful in creating new benchmarks around quality and customer satisfaction.

To further improve our competitiveness and support our growth ambitions, we will continue to strengthen and regionalise our manufacturing and supply base. Increased focus on localisation is also helping us reduce our time to the market and remain cost competitive, at a time when input costs have been rising.

How has the demand for bearing in the construction equipment market in FY22-23? What are your expectations for the next fiscal year?
Strong demand from multiple industries such as machinery, automotive, and aerospace is further spurring the growth of India’s bearing industry. Similarly, we expect substantial growth in the demand for bearing in the construction equipment market in the medium to long term owing to a growing domestic economy, and focus on infrastructure development, combined with the rising demand for new and improved equipment.

With robust policies providing an impetus to the manufacturing sector, the bearing industry will develop too in the coming years. Notably, with the increasing adoption of new technologies and digitalisation, manufacturers will continue to focus on the utilisation of customised bearings to meet their evolving needs.

How do you look at the future of bearings for CE applications in India?
With technology penetrating all aspects of our life, the bearing industry is not left behind. The bearing industry is developing more sustainable products and solutions which can help customers reach their goals of machine reliability and productivity, energy efficiency, and cost competitiveness. For example, Smart bearings, that measure and communicate their operating conditions continuously, enable customers to have even better control over the life cycle of their machinery, leading to lower costs and higher reliability and machinery uptime. These better-designed and technologically efficient bearings across critical and hi-tech applications are expected to offer numerous market opportunities.

Going forward, there will be an increased focus on driving high levels of innovation and technological advancements to help customers achieve their efficiency goals of increased productivity and reduced unplanned downtime.