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"SKF India to grow faster than the market” [Dec 2011]

The SKF Group offers products, solutions and services across rolling bearings, seals, mechatronics, services and lubrication systems. In an interview with Subhajit Roy; Martti Hakulinen, Director-Industrial Business Unit, SKF India speaks on the SKFs operation in India, technology innovation and solutions offerings
The automotive and industrial engineered solutions market in India is growing at a faster rate. Being one of the leading solutions providers for this market, could you brief us on the real scenario?For the industrial business, the Indian market looks very interesting. India will triple its infrastructure until 2015 and in the earthmoving and construction equipment it has the potential to grow about 24 per cent annually and that’s a very important market for us.  Also, the country has a major focus on renewable energy. It is anticipated that on an average India will install wind turbines of generating 2,500 MW until 2015 and that’s a major market for us.
In India, there is an advanced healthcare system and the cost is much lower than other parts of the world. Many patients from Thailand, Indonesia and Middle East countries are travelling to India to avail the quality healthcare facilities at a much cheaper cost. I think people from Europe and US will also prefer for the same. Thus, the healthcare sector is going to witness an exponential growth.
There is also an increasing need for high precision low cost equipment. The equipment sold by renowned MNCs like General Electric, Siemens etc are too expensive as those are manufactured in the West. Realising this, the companies have started to setting-up manufacturing facilities in India. Therefore, we will be able to deliver bearings to those manufacturers as well.
We not only have bearings to offer, we are also into Mechatronics, which is an added advantage. The Indian Railways, Metro Rails across the country, and Dedicated Freight Corridor are some of the major growth drivers for bearings industry. To add, the Indian Railways is opening new production centres and I hope that we will be able to deliver to some of our products to them. Could you brief us on the SKF’s five technology platforms?SKF has five technology platforms: Bearings and units, Seals, Mechatronics, Services, and Lubrication Systems. We develop tailor-made solutions for each customer segment, helping customers improve performance, reduce energy use and lower total costs, while bringing increased added value to SKF.
Bearings and unitsUnder the Bearings and units platform we offer bearings of different size, they are manufactured in different places. We also make housings that are used to place the bearings and the shaft. Today, not all bearing manufacturers make their own housings. SKF is a unique player that manufactures and develops housing.
Seals Seals and sealing technology are essential parts of the capabilities of SKF. Thanks to the worldwide application know-how, optimised materials, forward-looking designs and the most advanced production techniques; seals from SKF stand for excellence and leadership and symbolise consistent endeavour to achieve total quality in all processes. Increase operating time, reduce downtime, and improve output & product quality are the results of using our seals.
Mechatronics SKF offers a wide range of mechatronic products. Mechatronics is the science of bringing together mechanics and electronics into exciting new solutions. It is a rapidly advancing area that provides dramatic opportunity to solve old problems in a clever and environment friendly way. We have developed unique application knowledge in hardware and software. In combining actuators, bearings, sealing, lubrication, sensors and electronics competences; we have been able to develop a number of standard and customised solutions.
Lubrication systems, seals and bearings operate very close to each other, thus increase the friction. Mechatronics is used to reduce the friction therefore help saving energy compared to hydraulic systems. Many of our bearings are being used at the Railways. We have the sensors to track the bearing life and other required parameters.
Lubrication SystemsSKF offers lubrication systems which increase reliability & durability, extend service intervals, and help machine tools in achieving a higher cutting output whereas reducing production times by up to 30 per cent.
ServicesServicing is an important aspect for effective performance of any machine. SKF provides service solutions that meet specific needs of customers. The services range from training and logistics, to providing full service contracts with qualified manpower and technology to help maintain plant – even remotely.
Also, SKF holds expertise in machinery maintenance and asset management, therefore can help customers to reduce energy usage and improve plants sustainability footprint. Our fully equipped service centres can remanufacture bearings and machine tool spindles that enhance the machine performance.
What are the products you offer for the renewable energy sector like wind power etc.?In wind power sector we deliver main shaft bearings for wind turbines, slewing bearings and also bearings for the gearboxes. We will be able to supply these bearings from our Ahmedabad facility starting 2012.
Are you going to produce your entire range of products in the Ahmedabad factory itself?Many of our products we are already delivering out of the Ahmedabad factory to the Indian Railways. It is not advisable to have too many products in one factory.  There are certain technologies that are not yet available in Ahmedabad facility as we cannot invest into too many things at the same time. On a later stage, we will investment more in Ahmedabad to be able to serve manufacturing all types of bearings that Indian Railways needs.
What kind of investment you are looking at for the Ahmedabad factory?We have invested around Rs. 248 crore in this factory. We have started with roller bearings, CRB’s and the slewing bearings. We will not make the smaller ones; rather we will start with the medium size and go up to larger size. Majority of the bearings are designed for the use in renewable energy, locomotives, material handling, and gear box manufacturing.
For wind power, which are the OEMs you are aiming at?More or less, all of them. However, the global brands like Suzlon, Hansen, and Vestus etc. are our existing clients.
How significant is the Industrial Business Unit division for SKF?It is very significant. The automotive division is bigger than the industrial business unit. However, if we combine the products offerings to OEMs and the service division, the industrial business unit would be almost equal.
How do you see the opportunity in Indian market?It’s a big opportunity for us. Once the government starts building the railways, they will build the roads. Therefore, the demand of construction equipment will grow and being a quality solution provider to the construction equipment manufacturers we expect surge in demand of our products too.
Can you name some of the OEMs in construction equipment sector to whom you are supplying your products?JCB, Komatsu India, L&T, BHEL, BMEL, Escorts, Volvo India, Caterpillar are some of the customers we are supplying to.
How do you maintain the uniform in quality of your products?All the factories belonging to SKF follow the same system. Our products manufactured in different facilities across the world are of same quality. Moreover, we are audited by SKF people, they can come from the central unit and audit us, and it’s more common nowadays. For example, we send a person from India to China for auditing the China’s offices or production facilities and they can send someone from China to audit Indian facilities as well. We maintain the same EHS (Environment, Health and Safety) quality standards all over the world.
How did the industrial business unit perform in the last quarter?We are increasing our sales quarter by quarter and we have done so for the three quarters. We are increasing the sales force, so far we have been concentrating on the metro cities, but this year we have started to go out to across the territories.
SKF is one of the leaders in bearings globally. Would you like to share your success mantra?

Ability to develop diverse range of bearings

Precision Quality 

Global presence

Technology innovation
Where do you wish to see SKF in India 5 years down the line?We expect the business to grow in the next five years. We have the right product mix for the market and we anticipate a good growth rate in the coming 5 years.

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