SKF Offers Fully Integrated Optimized Solutions

Hrishikesh Kulkarni
Backed by deep construction vehicle application experience and a wide range of products and solutions, SKF is able to deliver fully-integrated, optimized solutions to OEMs and end users that give higher sustainability, reliability, and safety. "We see India as the most favorable market for investment across the world. At SKF, we're expecting double digit growth in our business in the construction segment this year, which will be faster than the industry growth and are anticipating the same trend to follow going ahead in 2016," asserts Mr. Hrishikesh Kulkarni, Business Head-Drives & Off Highway, SKF India in an interview with S.A.Faridi.

What is your overview of Construction Equipment market in India? What is your assessment for SKF business in 2015-16?
Infrastructure development is a key driver of India's economic growth in this decade. Substantial infrastructure investment will also drive higher demand for construction equipment, which in turn will work favorably for SKF. Backed by deep construction vehicle application experience and a wide range of products and solutions, SKF is able to deliver fully-integrated, optimized solutions.

SKF SRB Bearings
The key to infrastructure development is a favorable policy environment that will revive and expedite several long-pending infrastructure projects. Expected fast-tracking infrastructure projects and increase in rural demand due to irrigation projects and state government–sponsored road projects; Metro projects across the country promise to create demand in cities and dedicated freight corridor. Moreover, the Centre's announcement of India's first river connection project amongst other positive policy developments should augur well for the growth of the construction equipment segment. India will develop as a manufacturing hub for the construction segment. This can be seen by the recent trends of major construction equipment manufacturers shifting their complete product line manufacturing to India. This will lead to products being manufactured not only for the local market but also for the global requirements. Also, major construction equipment manufacturers are setting up their own design centres in India, thereby looking at developing India-specific products and catering to the global demand through these design centres.

We, at SKF, are ready to serve our customers drawing on decades of expertise in bearings, seals, lubrication and more, and helping construction equipment OEMs and end users achieve higher reliability, safety and environmental goals for a range of machinery applications. Whether it is a complete, integrated unit with less maintenance and re-lubrication, or a centralized lubrication system that automates time-consuming greasing tasks, SKF solutions are meeting the industry's expanding application demands. We are expecting double digit growth in our business in the construction segment this year, which will be faster than the industry growth and are expecting the same trend to follow going forward in 2016.

A factor which is catching fast while buying equipment is total cost of ownership and SKF plays big role to help OEMs to make machines more productive and reliable; what innovative products/services/integrated solutions have you introduced in the recent past?
SKF Hydraulic Seals Cylinder
Close cooperation with equipment manufacturers and end users has given SKF a unique understanding of the industry demands. Today, we are leveraging this knowledge to provide value at every stage of an asset's life cycle. SKF Life Cycle Management is our proven approach to optimizing equipment design and operation over its entire service life cycle, and also maximizing productivity while minimizing Total Cost of Ownership for machinery over every stage, from specification and design to operation and maintenance.

SKF is geared up to cater to the demands of construction segment right from the design stage to the service requirements of the end users; by leveraging its strengths of – GTCI and Solution Factory in India along with the global expertise and proven solutions based on Life cycle management approach.

We provide complete solutions by way of bearings, central lubrication systems, condition monitoring and design engineering for the off-highway, construction and agricultural machinery.

SKF has a broad range of bearing types like standard cylindrical roller bearings, spherical roller bearings, plain bearings, slew ring bearings. Moreover, we offer world-class unique offerings like Y-bearings for agricultural applications, SKF Explorer class spherical roller bearings and application-specific sensorised bearings; all of which ensure reliability and energy-efficiency to OEMs and end users alike.

SKF Steer By Wire
We also provide comprehensive sealing solutions for all parts of the off-highway machines, ranging from engine and transmission, chassis and suspensions, drivelines, undercarriages, hydraulic cylinders and sealed for life products like SKF Agri Hub for agricultural applications. With SKF sealing solutions, customers can reduce weight, noise, and simplify installation. With the expected change in legislation and regulation in near future, technology will play an important role for the products and solutions which can increase the efficiency and reliability. SKF is well-equipped with its various solutions like steer by wire, parking break, sensor solutions which meet the new regulations and also improve the equipment reliability by allowing real time monitoring.

By integrating mechanical, electronic and information technologies, we help customers design smart products through mechatronics that provide high reliability in harsh environments and reduce maintenance cost. We also provide extensive range of customized lubrication systems, which optimize efficiency, reduce maintenance, and enhance reliability.

The establishment of GTCI is part of SKF's technology strategy to develop a global product development and engineering organization. The state-of-the-art centre, located in Bangalore, focuses on testing and providing advanced technical knowledge for design, process, and supplier validation. Our customers in India will benefit from "closer to home" availability of SKF's global knowledge and expertise to address the growing need in India of incorporating latest technology in their new product development.

SKF Energy Efficient Tapered Roller Bearing
Thus, SKF offers a full range of services to both OEM and aftermarket customers at each phase of the asset's life cycle, which improve productivity and reduce the maintenance cost.

Please tell us something about your maintenance-free bearings.
Off-Highway vehicles are expected to work in challenging and demanding environment, where maintenance and repairs are often inconvenient and could be expensive. SKF has looked at ways of making life easier for Off-Highway vehicle operators. Applications have been targeted where the effects of contamination from harsh conditions can take their toll. These include critical applications for the axle pivot joint and the kingpin, oscillating articulation joints and boom applications. The result is innovate offerings-components that combine SKF's expertise in materials knowledge with advanced lubrication and sealing concepts. The solutions offered are lubrication-free and environmental friendly.

These maintenance-free bearings from SKF offer a number of advantages for OEMs and end users alike, like minimal maintenance and reduced lubricant consumption. Also, the impact that maintenance-free bearings have on the environment is an added benefit.

SKF manufactures maintenance-free spherical plain bearings in a variety of designs and a wide range of sizes. SKF maintenance-free spherical plain bearings help to eliminate the need for relubrication, and reduce the total cost of ownership. SKF maintenance-free spherical plain bearings incorporate special sliding layers of modern materials which have very low friction. They are used for applications where long bearing lives are required without maintenance, or where operating conditions are such that the use of steel/steel bearing is inadvisable.

SKF also has a unique and novel solution in form of Extended Life plain bearings. Featuring high-grade, carbon chromium steel to minimize the risk of corrosion, SKF Extended Life Plain Bearings offer a relubrication-free alternative to frequent re-greasing. Non-toxic grease fills the bearing, which is then sealed with steel-reinforced SKF LS heavy duty triple-lip seals for high performance over long periods.

After sales service and after market are the key factors to keep your customers base intact in this competitive environment. How does SKF look at these important areas?
Effective management of assets throughout their lifecycle can deliver significant value and reduce total cost of ownership. SKF Life Cycle Management is a proven approach for maximizing productivity while minimizing Total Cost of Ownership for machinery over every stage, from specification and design to operation and maintenance. vBuilding on this knowledge SKF has developed advanced services and technologies to maintain, monitor, repair and optimize the assets throughout their operating life; providing the optimum replacement parts at the right time and helping our customers to optimize their asset efficiency.

We channel our end user knowledge back into the specification phase of next generation equipment. Technologies, such as condition monitoring, can be designed into new OEM assets or retrofitted, constantly improving and providing differentiation in competitive markets, adding value, and extending the possibilities for aftermarket services and enhanced machinery maintenance.

At every stage of the asset's life cycle, SKF products, advanced services and solutions help our customers improve productivity, reduce maintenance costs, improve energy- and resource-efficiency, and optimize designs for long service life and reliability; ultimately helping to make the end users more successful, sustainable, and profitable.

SKF's network of over 300 distributors is an essential part of the company's supplier ecosystem. Given their geographical proximity to customers and a sound knowledge of the market demand, distributors can effectively service the end users. SKF also has strategically located regional warehouses which stock products based on customer needs and make them readily available as per requirement and location of the customer.

Thus, through extended partnership, SKF can offer value based solutions for total product lifecycle optimization and lower operational costs for the customers.

Extended Life Plain Bearings
With its global presence; how do you see the Indian market different from other countries? To what extent does India play a key role in SKF's business?
India is the most favorable market for investment across the world and the 'Make in India' policy is likely to see a lot of PPP models in infrastructure and construction sectors. The expected reforms can materialize into favourable environment for the core sectors like infrastructure, mining, energy, metals amongst others. Also, the Indian market is different from the other global markets with more than 65% of its population below age of 35 and this demographic will contribute towards growth of the industry as a whole. Thus, India can be expected to grow as a manufacturing hub for various industries including the construction industry due to the robust policy at the centre, its huge young population, favorable interest regime and growing demand due to the middle class.

SKF Mudblock Seal
India has also been a focus country for SKF, and SKF's roots in India can be traced back to 1923, when a trading arm of SKF Group was set up in Kolkata. Today, SKF has 6 manufacturing facilities across India with Ahmedabad facility manufacturing industrial bearings and the Mysore facility manufacturing Sealing solutions for Industrial and Automotive applications. In 2010, SKF acquired Lincoln Group, which is represented in India as Lincoln Helios India Ltd, an SKF Group entity. With a supplier network of over 300 distributors, SKF continues to serve the varied markets with reliable solutions. SKF's products and services range across 5 platforms, namely: Bearings and Units, Seals, Lubrication Systems, Mechatronics, and Services. To make full global resources of SKF accessible to our customers, we have created SKF Solution factories, which bring people, services, and technologies together to deliver custom solutions. The services at SKF solution factory range from engineering consultancy for original equipment manufacturers to bearing remanufacturing and cloud-based remote monitoring and diagnostics. SKF started state-of-the-art Global Technical Centre India in Bangalore in December 2011, reinforcing its global strategy to open Global Technical Centres to work closer with customers through its various engineering hubs. SKF's Global technical center in India drives innovation by developing products and solutions for the customers in a faster and in an effective way.

Thus, with such a wide range of facilities for products and technology services, SKF is fully committed and geared up to serve the construction industry and other segments in India thereby contributing to the Indian growth story.
NBM&CW November 2015
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