How is the bearings market growing in India and what opportunities and challenges do you see for your products for use in Construction and Mining Equipment?
With government incentives, a strong supplier ecosystem, raw material availability, and qualified human resources, India is likely to emerge as a leader in the market for industrial bearings. Demand for micro bearings in industrial robots will drive the market further and will be fueled by technical advancements in manufacturing processes.
With the Indian government announcing the development of major infrastructure and industrial projects, the bearing market will grow rapidly. The spherical roller bearings will continue to dominate the market, riding on their high load-carrying capacity and ability to operate in the face of challenges and misalignments, enabling enterprises to achieve lower maintenance costs and longer bearing service life. We also see demand for customized bearings.
Construction and mining equipment are used for material hauling/handling, excavation, dumping, and road construction, and are therefore exposed to harsh terrains and operational challenges. Bearings are required to contend with the debris, the heavy loads, shocks, vibrations, misalignments, speed variations, etc at the jobsites. Since we work with OEMs and construction industries to provide optimal solutions, we can confidently say that NBC bearings, with their enhanced internal geometry, surface finish, and cages, can address all jobsite challenges faced by the construction equipment.
What are the company’s major products and which industries are they being used in?
NBC produces over 200 mn bearings yearly in 2300+ sizes for use in the automotive, railways, aerospace, and industrial segments; it is serving customers in over 30 countries. We also cater to the Indian aftermarket with a network of 550 authorised stockists and thousands of retailers across the country.
Since 1952, NBC has also been working with the Indian railways to design and develop bearings for use in Wagons, Locomotives, and Coaches. It acquired European company Kinex Bearings in 2020 to be close to its customers in Europe, and has also aligned its objectives to cater to an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat.’
NBC’s range of major products comprises ball bearings, taper roller bearings, cylindrical roller bearings, spherical roller bearings, needle bearings, large size bearings and axle boxes. The company is also developing electric vehicle bearings and is now stepping into the aerospace and defence space.
We have also made significant investments in technology and Industry 4.0 to fully digitalize manufacturing and non-manufacturing operations in the coming years. Today, NBC is the world’s only bearing manufacturer to obtain the Deming Grand Prize for quality.
How do NBC bearings augment the machineries of OEMs for increasing their performance?
Bearings need to offer higher efficiency and have lower maintenance requirements with longer service life. We are implementing technology in our daily processes to fast-track production and enhance product quality. For maximum efficiency, all machineries require regular maintenance. At NBC, we undertake Condition Monitoring for predicting potential breakdowns and improving asset reliability. Our expertise in a variety of Condition Monitoring streams assists industries in keeping their assets in good working order. We also organize training programs for our distributors, customers, and end-users to enhance their understanding of bearings.
NBC Bearing’s R&D function is focused on providing innovative and effective technology, alongside caring for the environment and resource conservation in keeping with the spirit of our company motto: ‘Enabling sustainability by making movement more efficient.’ We are on track to achieve carbon neutrality by 2039 with our energy management systems, renewable energy generation, environmentally friendly products, trash management, and returnable/reusable packaging.
Please tell us about your Global Technical Centre in Germany and the role it plays in designing and developing newer, more high-quality products.
The application engineers at our Global Technical Centre collaborate with customers to better understand their needs from the design process to the final product. They focus on specialized areas such as advanced material and processes, product design, tribology and lubrication, virtual simulation, and testing.
Since, one size can never fit all applications, we customize our products to come up with the most appropriate solutions. To ensure outstanding delivery, we combine responsive design with advanced production.
We are committed to provide superior quality products designed to give precise performance. For instance, the company has developed a low torque bearing that can reduce friction up to 20%, which results in fuel efficiency. The company spends 1% of its turnover on R&D and plans to increase it to 2% in the coming years. It also holds a number of patents.
Since the metallurgy and greasing of bearings are important for ensuring the quality of bearings, how does your R&D Centre ensure minimum wear and tear of the bearings, especially in Indian conditions where equipment is often overused?
For greasing of our bearings, we select the grease as per the application conditions like load, operating temperature, speed, environment condition, material compatibility, low noise requirement, and relubrication intervals. We have a range of greases with different base oil properties, thickeners, and additives. For tough jobsite conditions, where machines are required to handle heavy loads, contamination, shock load, etc, we offer more superior and hardy bearings with lubricant-based greases and coatings.
As regards the metallurgy of our bearings, our dedicated materials department studies and develops optimum materials. These are validated by our in-house testing department and also at the customer’s end, before production starts.
How is NBC addressing customers’ requirements for timely supply of products, besides their quality and competitive pricing?
Our products are designed to be robust and highly durable, which helps consumers lower their total cost of ownership. Through our NBC Connect App, customers can check the genuine features of NBC bearings.
We have over 550 stockists and thousands of retailers across India which serve the aftermarket segment, along with our sales representatives and application engineers. Our products are also accessible on Moglix, an online shopping site where clients can browse and buy.
What is your strategy to increase sales and enhance brand recall?
We are India’s first bearing manufacturer with over 75 years of experience across various industries, including the automotive and railway segments. We see demand coming from OEMs in the emerging EV segment, the aerospace and defence segments (towards which we have increased our make in India initiatives), and the industrial segment (where we have expanded our range of products). We are now expanding our dealer network and are also open to M&A opportunities. We expect to double our turnover by 2025.
Please tell us about the company’s manufacturing facilities in India, international tie-ups, and export markets.
We have 5 manufacturing facilities located at Jaipur, Newai, Manesar, and at Savli in Vadodara, which collectively produce 200 million bearings annually. The NBC brand commands a market share of 24% in the domestic market with about 70% of sales coming from OEMs and 30% from the replacement market. About 60% sales is from the auto sector (OEM and aftermarket); 30% for railway products, and 10% from the low-volume industrial applications.
We are serving customers in over 30 countries, and plan to grow further with the acquisition of Kinex. We have partnered with prestigious brands like Brenco Inc (US) and NTN Corporation (Japan) to expand our product portfolio and bring the latest technology in bearing manufacturing. Our joint venture with Amsted Seals to manufacture railway seals is now up and running, and it will serve both domestic and international customers.
We have offices and warehouses in USA, Europe, and Asia, with distributors across countries. Over 25% of our business comes from exports which we plan to increase to 45-50% for which we are working with leading OEMs. Our warehouses in Germany and USA ensure timely delivery to customers.