Hrishikesh Kulkarni
SKF: "We see major growth coming from Railways, Off Highway and Machine tools. We work as technology partners with the manufacturers which has given SKF a deep understanding of the interaction between asset components and industrial processes. We are leveraging this knowledge to provide value at every stage of an asset's lifecycle. Our continued focus is on technology development for energy efficiency and sustainability, and at the same time, reduce costs for the customer in the long run," says Mr. Hrishikesh Kulkarni, Business Head Drives and Off Highway, SKF India Ltd.

What growth prospects do you envisage for 2017 in India?
India's economy picked up in Q2 FY 2016, although activity remains lopsided. Tailwinds from a near-normal monsoon and government pay hikes are expected to boost household consumption. The government continues to make progress on reforms and infrastructure spends, but private sector investment continues to remain a concern. In a bold announcement on 8 November, the government scrapped two high denomination notes in an effort to fight tax evasion and illegal practices. This will certainly make the economy more transparent to a great extent in the long run. This decision is definitely another initiative towards economic reforms of the country. For SKF, the sales grew positively buoyed by the growth in Two Wheeler, Energy, Railways and Off Highway segments. We continue our positive developments in the industrial markets, and continue to strengthen our association with Indian Railways. Our new range of India made housings SIBCO is doing well in the market. Continued economic reforms, and a favorable global economic and trade environment will play a key role in 2017 for an all-round growth.

What are the growth drivers and key segments that will lead the bearing industry to new heights?
The Indian Bearing Market can be broadly divided into the Automotive and the Industrial segments. The increase in demand for high-speed and efficient engines & machineries, spanning over a large section of the industry continues to drive the bearing industry. The Indian bearing industry manufactures over 500 varieties of bearings. Considering this figure, the industry has a lot of scope for growth and development.

The past year has been difficult for the bearing industry as a whole because of near-flat or negative growth of the automotive (Cars, Trucks, Two-wheelers) industry. There has been a fall in demand for vehicles owing to stubborn inflation and high interest rates. The automotive industry is aiming at processes that reduce the cost of the vehicles without compromising on quality, and this trickles down to the bearing industry as well. The Industrial segment has also been under pressure with segments like Wind Energy, Mining, and Steel facing tough times.

This situation only provides us with opportunities to innovate and bring unique solutions and models for customers across segments. Government initiatives such as Make in India, and Start Up India, augur well for the economy and thus, the segment, in the long run. As of now, we see major growth coming from Railways, Off-highway and Machine tools.

Tell us about SKF's engineering capabilities, services and solutions for the CE and Off-highway machines?
At SKF India, we offer solutions for the Off-Highway segment which caters to the construction segment specific vehicles like excavators, wheel loaders, etc. The growing demand for off-highway equipment, in many ways, is linked with variable factors. SKF with its deep understanding of construction equipment & earthmoving vehicles has been able to deliver fully integrated, optimized solutions. It has a wide range of catalogue bearings like Cylindrical Roller Bearings (CRB), and Spherical Roller Bearings (SRB), Deep Groove Ball Bearing (DGBB), CARB Toroidal Roller Bearings (TRB) in different sizes and variations. It also designs bearings based on application requirements such as slewing bearings for crawlers and excavators, mast guide bearings for forklifts, among others. We also have world-class offerings like SKF Explorer class spherical roller bearings, application-specific sensorised bearings, and SKF maintenance-free spherical plain bearings; that are specially designed so as to ensure maximum reliability and energy-efficiency to OEMs and end-users alike.

We also work as technology partners with manufacturers in both the construction & agriculture segments. Close cooperation with equipment manufacturers and industrial end-users has given SKF a deep understanding of the interaction between asset components and industrial processes. We are leveraging this knowledge to provide value at every stage of an asset's lifecycle. SKF Rotating Equipment Performance is our proven approach to optimizing equipment design and operation over its entire service lifecycle.

How does SKF correlate sustainability with its products?
SKF Off Highway and Machine Tools
Being a responsible global citizen, we strive to act in a way that not only secures strong financial performance but also supports global environmental sustainability. For more than 100 years, SKF has been providing products and solutions that make things run smoother. By reducing friction, these operations use less energy and have a reduced environmental impact. Our strategy for actively reducing our environmental impact is called SKF BeyondZero and it consists of two simultaneous goals:
  • Reduce the negative environmental impact from our own operations.
    To carry forward SKF's Environment Care Philosophy, SKF has inaugurated one of the largest rooftop solar installations in Pune, with 1 MW capacity. The launch of the project is a part of SKF India's ongoing solar mission across all major facilities in the country. The installation in the Pune facility is expected to generate 1.5 GwH units per annum. This initiative is expected to reduce the Pune facility's CO2 emissions by approximately 1200 metric tons per annum. SKF has also installed a solar rooftop plant at its Bengaluru facility and along with the Pune plant; the combined capacity is 2.1 MW. SKF has also installed a hybrid solar thermal plant at its Mysore facility with obtained energy of 120 MwH per year.
  • Innovate and offer customers new technologies, products and services with enhanced environmental performance characteristics.
Reducing negative environmental impact is an increasingly important issue for our society and re-manufacturing can be a significant contribution to improved sustainability, by reducing natural resources and energy use. SKF has decades of experience in re-manufacturing. Our service centers offer professional capabilities to re-manufacture, refurbish, recondition, rework or upgrade of key industrial components and systems.

Re-manufacturing by SKF is performed by dedicated state-of-the-art service centers strategically distributed around the world. The centers are performing the service according to procedures and processes defined by SKF to fulfill the quality and performance demands of the industrial components.

The rapid growth of Renewable energy reflects the world's increasing need for energy. To achieve this, energy producers must rely on suppliers who have design and manufacturing capabilities for products and solutions, as well as the capacity to offer services around the globe.

Today, SKF offers a wide range of products and solutions to the solar, wind, hydro, biomass and ocean energy generation to optimize their processes and aid in reducing the negative impact on the environment.

It is also well understood that SKFs customers in all industries are increasingly driven to improve the energy efficiency as well as to reduce the environmental impact from their products, services and processes.

What are SKF's plans to launch a new technology/solution for improved productivity, efficiency and to reduce total cost of ownership?
One of the ways SKF maintains its technological leadership is by innovating new products. SKF has its R&D center in Netherlands and it is supported by a network of technical centers around the world called the Global Technical Centers that help in testing, design support and innovation. SKF‘s Global Technical Center in Bengaluru, India, acts as the conduit to bring global knowledge for local customers in a faster and more effective way, and it focuses on testing, and on providing advanced technical knowledge for design, process and supplier validation. In addition, the center conducts bearing analysis and has a fully equipped laboratory.

SKF continues to focus on technology development in the area of energy efficiency and sustainability. Our aim is to positively contribute to the environment, and at the same time reduce costs for the customer in the long run.

SKF Energy Efficient Tapered Roller Bearing
How does SKF address the client's need for timely availability of its offerings and competitive pricing?
SKF has been a leading global technology provider since 1907. Our fundamental strength is the ability to continuously develop new technologies – then use them to create products that offer competitive advantages to our customers. We achieve this by combining hands-on experience of working with various industries with our knowledge across the SKF technology platforms: bearings and units, seals, mechatronics, services and lubrication systems. SKF serves its largest group of customers within the industrial and vehicle aftermarkets, both directly and via a global network of distributors and dealers, which supports in timely availability of our offerings and giving them a very competitive cost.
  • Authorised Industrial Distributors
    SKF India's network of Authorised Industrial Distributors is an essential part of the company's supplier ecosystem. Given their geographical proximity to customers and a sound knowledge of their businesses, AIDs can effectively manage and service these accounts. For their part, SKF's customers are assured of quality products, excellent service and high levels of integrity in all their transactions with AIDs.
  • Industrial Parts Suppliers
    Industrial Parts Suppliers play a valuable role in the industrial aftermarket. They can quickly and effectively service manufacturing customers located in nearby industrial hubs and can supply genuine SKF products to customers seeking off-the-shelf solutions. With their knowledge of SKF products and technology, they are well positioned to educate customers about the company's core solutions as well as to guide them in their quest for more detailed information.
  • Certified Maintenance Partners
SKF Certified Maintenance Partners are SKF authorised distributors that provide high quality and cost effective maintenance and predictive maintenance services to customers in their local area. The local presence reduces cost and improves response time. The goal of establishing the certified maintenance partners is to help end-users become more effective by providing high quality and cost effective maintenance and predictive maintenance services.

SKF will soon start the operations of our centralized product distribution center. This center combines latest practices that SKF has in its logistics operations worldwide with state-of-the-art logistic infrastructure. This facility will not only allow us to significantly improve the support and service to our customers and distributors in India, but also help us in reducing both operating costs and capital tied up in inventory with better availability of products and reduced delivery lead time. With the launch of this facility, we assure our customers the best pricing and timely availability of all the products across India.

How does SKF initiate knowledge sharing to help customers achieve their goals?
SKF has a rich resource of knowledge for optimized rotating equipment performance and reliability. Over the past century, SKF has developed a deep understanding of how machine components and industrial processes are interrelated. We share this knowledge with our customers through our Products, Services and Maintenance Consulting to help them achieve their goals – whether to become more profitable, productive and/or sustainable.

What is the Value Proposition and Competitive advantage that SKF brings to its customers?
To cater to the specific needs of our customers, SKF has moved from being a catalogue product supplier to a customized solution provider. Our experienced application engineers understand that the specific needs of our customers and solutions are designed with the help of our Global Technical Center in Bengaluru and our Product Engineering team that develops application-specific products. These products are then manufactured in India across our 6 major manufacturing facilities. All our products are of one global quality.

What is your export market?
Our manufacturing facilities in India cater to the demand of local markets as well as export markets for industrial and automotive industries. We export bearings and housings to Europe, North America and South Asian countries.

NBM&CW December 2016