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Industrial counterfeiting – the biggest threat

“In the last two decades, counterfeiting in general has grown by 10,000% globally. While there has been much reporting about consumers being taken advantage of by counterfeits in music, film, home electronics and designer clothing; a far greater risk lies in industrial counterfeiting of items such as tyres, seals and bearings”, emphasised Ajay Das, MD at Timken India
 
Please discuss on the current performance of bearings industry in India and your initiatives.
As India builds its infrastructure, the bearings industry will witness a huge demand surge, especially in large size bearings segment. Also, as consumers get more demanding and product liability and safety issues get more stringent, there is a need for a qualitative leap in the performance of the bearings. Meeting these two requirements in a competitive fashion is the key challenge for the bearings industry.
 
The increasing trend of designing and manufacturing of heavy industrial equipment in India has resulted in customers asking for design and application engineering knowledge and assistance. In many applications, bearings are the limiting factor in increasing the power density of the equipment and also one of the first components to get damaged. Hence working with customers, to help them make optimum design choices is an important customer expectation now.
 
The slowdown in the economy and demand apart, the industry has had to face increased cost of production due to the rise in price of inputs especially steel. On a similar thread the industry has had to face cost-competitiveness due to higher import duties on raw materials (steel tubes, steel bars, grinding wheels, etc.).
 
Finally, the customers are asking for more competitiveness and responsiveness from bearing industry, which would require companies to regionalise production bases closer to customers.
 
Bearings demand is a derived demand and is a function of what local industry needs for the equipment manufactured in India. With increasing manufacturing of heavy equipment to support infrastructure build, energy and construction equipment, the large bore bearings technology for critical application is coming to India. Timken manufactures bearings for metro rail coaches and high speed coaches at its factory in Jamshedpur which is otherwise imported and is localising a lot of large size bearings for critical locomotive and off highway application at its factory in Chennai.
 
Traditionally while most of the bearings company focus on how to make acceptable performance bearings at a competitive cost, Timken has taken a different approach. At our technology centres, Timken has invested heavily in to analysing and understanding the interaction between bearings and its supporting and surrounding components to help customers develop a better overall power train system versus what is available today. That allows us to optimise the system for better overall performance at optimum cost and this sets us apart from competition.
 
Very often, in designing compact and efficient power trains, bearings become a limiting factor from capacity and life expectancy point of view. Innovation is the key to push the boundaries on bearings and power train system designs so that the world can witness higher performance equipment at lower costs.
 
What is the total market size of bearings industry in India? And what is your market share?
The current size of the bearings market inclusive of exports would be approximately US$ 1.2 bn. With the rapid industrialisation India is witnessing, the bearings industry has more than doubled over the last five years and has registered annual gains well above both the regional and global averages. With increased infrastructure and industrialization spends, this trend should continue into the next five years as well. India is among the fastest growth markets for bearings.  
 
The organized segment should account for approximately USD 900 mn. Close to 40 per cent of the total demand is met through imports with the balance being met by indigenous products.
 
Timken provides friction management solutions for many industries. Which are the major target sectors for Timken’s business?
Timken is a global leader in friction management technologies and provides one of the most complete offerings of anti‑friction bearings in the industry. We provide friction management and power transmission solutions for many major market segments including aerospace, automotive, construction, consumer, defence, energy, industrial equipment, health, heavy industry, machine tool, positioning control, power generation and rail. The industrial bearings market (off-highway, railways, construction, metals, power generation, wind, cement, gear drive, aggregate and others) which contributes significantly to the anti-friction bearing market is valued at approximately US$ 700 million. Timken market share in this segment would roughly be around 9-10 per cent. Timken enjoys a 20 per cent market share in the heavy trucks segment which is totally valued at US$ 40 million.
 
Process industries
Our products and services support a wide range of heavy equipment, large infrastructure development and energy applications. From rolling mills to wind mills and from offshore oil rigs to dockside cranes, the reliability and durability of our products contribute to superb performance and long service life.
 
Mobile industries
We provide a complete line of bearing types engineered specifically for the demands of tractors, combines and other farm equipment. Timken bearings deliver greater load-carrying capacity, all-season reliability and extended life in these rugged applications.
 
Steel
We offer more than 450 grades of carbon and alloy steels and can custom melt steel to customers’ specifications. We work with our customers to develop new steels that include the precise metallurgical and physical properties needed. We also offer value‑added precision steel components that range from simple cut rings to complex, highly engineered, ready-to-finish products. Our customers in automotive, energy, industrial, bearing manufacture and steel service centre sectors turn to us for applications requiring reliability and durability. Crankshafts, gears for wind energy turbines, hydraulic equipment, bearing components and drilling equipment are a few of the many rugged applications for Timken steel and steel products.
 
How do you foresee the future of bearings industry in India?
As Indian infrastructure develops and the industry modernises, I see tremendous opportunities opening up for the bearings industry. As we move forward, customers will look for better and cleaner technologies and more value added services like maintenance of equipment, reliability monitoring, and remanufacturing that keeps their equipment running longer and more efficiently. The manufacturers should be in an excellent position to provide their discerning customers with the best in industry end to end solutions.
 
Can you highlight the challenges for the bearings industry?
In the last two decades, counterfeiting in general has grown by 10,000 percent, globally. While there has been much reporting about consumers being taken advantage of by counterfeits in music, film, home electronics and designer clothing, a far greater risk lies in industrial counterfeiting of items such as tyres, seals and bearings. All these products are safety-critical and fake versions pose a real threat.
 
Everyone who buys, sells, mounts and uses bearings can be adversely affected by counterfeits, so it is their best interest to be on the lookout for them. Manufacturers of products containing industrial bearings may be held responsible for damages. We want purchasers to realise that counterfeiting is a widespread and serious problem.
 
Counterfeiting also violates intellectual property, such as patents and trademarks. Because counterfeits look like and are marketed like genuine, premium-brand products, it usually takes a trained expert to identify them. The competent authorities and the concerned brand manufacturer may be contacted.
 
Premium manufacturers invest continuously to develop their technology and improve the quality and value of their products. When counterfeiters copy the look of industrial bearings – and apply respected brand names that aren’t theirs – they are infringing upon the rights of the manufacturer. The World Bearing Association (WBA) has launched an awareness campaign to inform about safety hazards arising from counterfeit bearings. Our initiative is aimed at sensitizing the public on the dangers associated with counterfeits.
 
Would you like to share your growth story?
For more than 100 years, Timken has focused on value creation for diverse industries and market segments. We deliver a variety of friction management and power transmission solutions for applications ranging from aircraft and automobiles to mining equipment and medical instruments. We’ve grown considerably since our founding in 1899, but solving customer problems is still at the core of our business, just like it was when founder Henry Timken patented a tapered roller bearing design that made life easier for freight wagon operators and their mules.
 
Wherever there is motion, you’ll find Timken at work. Timken is one of the world’s leading producers of highly engineered anti‑friction bearings and related products and services and alloy steel and components. We help create, transfer and control power, putting our friction management and power transmission technologies to work across a broad industry spectrum. For more than 100 years, Timken has refined the science of managing friction. Our chief technologists are responsible for hundreds of patents and white papers, and are committed to improving the performance of customer products. Timken has operations in 26 countries on six continents, and our team of 25,000 employees is dedicated to improving our customers’ performance in a variety of applications.
 
Timken has more than a century of experience developing bearings and related products that reduce friction, improve efficiency and minimize customer maintenance. Our advancements in bearing design, quality and materials create a customer advantage we call ‘power density’. This means we are increasing bearing load carrying capability, enabling a smaller bearing to carry the same load for the same predicted life as a previously larger one. Power density gives equipment designers greater flexibility and leads to lower total system cost.
 
 Where do you wish to see the Timken couple of years down the line?
As India builds its infrastructure, I see significant opportunities for Timken India team to further enhance our customers’ equipment performance through the application of Timken technology and skills. Over last two decades, Timken has built world class engineering, design, manufacturing, sales and services capabilities in India. We are in an excellent position to provide our discerning customers with best in the industry end to end solutions with the team and capabilities we have in Bangalore, Chennai, Jamshedpur and sales offices across India. A good example is steel industry, where we partner with OEM designers and mill builders to study the application and suggest the right bearings and settings, manufacture these highest performance and highest quality bearings and then maintain it with our Milltec services team. We intend to make these unique capabilities available to a broader range of industries and customers in India, broaden our product offering in India and in the process become their preferred power transmission and friction management solutions provider.
 
Major Products and Services
•  Aerospace components and services
•  Alloy steel bars and tubing
•  Bearings, assemblies and related parts
•  Bearing maintenance tools
•  Condition monitoring systems and services
•  Engineering and technical services
•  Grease and lubricators
•  Helicopter transmissions and rotor-head assemblies
•  Precision steel components
•  Repair and refurbishing services
•  Sensor products
•  Training

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