From the early days of the industry, the role of bearings in making things rotate has been clear. Bearings are an essential part of every machinery serving to reduce friction and allow for smoother rotation. Today, the bearing industry is growing both in India and globally and is expected to witness substantial growth driven by industrial production as well as demand from the automobile sector.
Growth in the manufacturing sector due to strong demand from multiple industries such as machinery, construction, automotive, aerospace, defense, etc. is further spurring the growth of India’s bearing industry. Notably, with the increasing adoption of new technologies and digitalization, manufacturers are focusing on the utilization of customized bearings to meet their evolving needs. So much so that with rising in demand for specialized bearing solutions that meet different industry-specific requirements such as the growing EV sector will further boost the market. With robust policies providing an impetus to the manufacturing sector, the bearing industry will develop too.
With technology penetrating all aspects of our life, the bearing industry is not left behind. The industry is upping its game to meet the evolving technological requirements of customers. For example, to keep pace with the changing norms around lowering CO2 emissions and greater fuel efficiency, the auto components industry is adopting the latest technologies to meet the evolving needs. Right from helping customers meet efficiency goals, increase productivity to reducing unplanned downtime and longer maintenance cycles, the bearings makers are witnessing high levels of innovation and technological advancements. For example, in industrial applications, Smart bearings, that measure and communicate their operating conditions continuously, are enabling customers to have even better control over the life cycle of their machinery, leading to lower costs and higher reliability and machinery uptime. These better designed and technologically efficient bearings across critical and hi-tech applications are expected to offer numerous market opportunities.
The cost of raw materials remains the top concern for manufacturers. As high-grade steel is the primary raw material used for manufacturing bearings, bearings price is highly correlated with the global steel price movement. The fluctuation of raw material price creates challenges for the bearing manufacturers to produce bearings in comparative price and high quality. Additionally, fluctuating supply and demand scenario is hindering the growth of the bearing industry.
Digitalization is affecting all parts of the value chain, from design and manufacturing to purchasing and maintenance. Given the goal of improving performance, this trend of digitalization is putting immense pressure on bearings manufacturers. However, not all segments of the industry are equally modernized, and most companies are slow to adopt the new technologies thus hampering the growth of the bearings market. Barriers to the effective use of new technologies typically include a combination of a lack of understanding of critical product and system design requirements and a shortage of skills.
Counterfeit bearings continue to be a challenge in recent years and all markets are now susceptible to receiving these unpredictable quality products, of all brands, unknowingly. These counterfeit ball bearings can drastically affect the performance of the equipment, lead to production and other losses due to unplanned shutdowns and a decline in sales. While lost sales and loss of image are some of the consequences, the total financial damage resulting from counterfeit products is difficult to quantify. With nearly every major bearing manufacturer being hit over the last few years by counterfeiters, the focus is on educating customers on the importance of buying genuine bearings.
While the pandemic affected all industries, it positively contributed to the bearings industry. By accelerating value chain processes, and building future capabilities, the industry quickly adapted to meet the demands. As the Indian automobile industry further innovates, there are tremendous opportunities available. Similarly, for the industrial sector, increasing applications in every sector ranging from medical and robotics to farm equipment, and household appliances to defense and aerospace, is expected to benefit the bearings manufacturers. Additionally, the growing focus of manufacturers on the production of lighter bearings by adopting newer technologies and lightweight alloys will further propel the growth of the market.
Lastly, the government’s increasing focus on the development of infrastructure, especially in rural areas, and a surge in industrial activities will add to the growth of the bearing market in the region.
Author: Manish Bhatnagar, MD, SKF India Ltd
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author. These views and opinions do not represent those of The Indian Express Group or its employees.
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