The legacy of leadership with innovation, NBC Bearing

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Q. Bearing industry is consistent in performance in the last few years. How do you foresee the future of bearing industry?

Bearing industry is growing at a decent pace across the world with new automobiles being introduced and rising industrial production. There are several developments that are happening to the size, quality and speed of the bearings due to numerous new applications in different segments. The developments in the electric vehicle segment will also fuel the demand. Besides this, the new generation bearings are lighter, faster and sustainable which are the emerging requirement from the industry. The new-age bearings with sensors enable users to take data-based decisions which make the processes even more efficient. All this will propel the growth in the coming years.

Q. Please brief us about company’s global reach & what are the global alliances that have been made in order to out-front the competition?

Over the years, NBC has become a global bearing manufacturer and exporter out of India, with 20% of our revenue coming from exports. We produce over 20 crore bearings in more than 2300 variants per year, and export to 30+ countries including Germany, Japan and China. We partnered with prestigious brands like Brenco Inc. (US) and NTN Corporation to expand the product portfolio. In 2020, NBC also acquired Kinex bearings in Europe to enhance and diversify in order to provide best-in-class products to our existing and potential customers and to be close to the international customers. We also have our sales offices in US, Europe and Asian countries to cater to our international customers. We are also working on building our design and research capabilities in Europe to further strengthen our existing setup.

Q. Can you brief more about NBC BEARING infrastructure?

NBC bearings is a part of the $2.4 billion CK Birla Group and is headquartered in Jaipur, Rajasthan. We have best-in-class production and process technologies in our five manufacturing sites in Jaipur, Newai, Manesar, and Vadodara, as well as one of the best R&D centres in the country. On sustainability front, our 75-year-old Jaipur plant was recently awarded the coveted IGBC Green Factory Building Platinum Certification. Earlier in 2016, our Gujarat plant had also received Platinum Certification by IGBC.

In the year 2020, we had acquired Kinex Bearings. This was aligned to our strategy to augment our product portfolio, expand our geographical footprint and serve our existing customers both in national and international markets. Recently, we had also collaborated with Amsted Seals to start a greenfield project, NBC-Brenco in Jaipur to manufacture railway bearing seals in India. This aims to host best-in-class manufacturing techniques and equipment. NBC-Brenco plans to add automotive seals and products with metal fabrication in the future. We will further expand our manufacturing footprint in Bagru, near Jaipur where we will setup new lines for manufacturing bearings over the next four years.We are continually evolving trying to find agile and smarter ways to ramp up our production and offer value to our customers.

Q. What are the market prospects for the NBC BEARING products in India and How do you plan to position these products?

For bearings manufacturers, the auto industry will continue to be a large consumer. Its after-market business is also substantial; with ever-increasing vehicle numbers in India, there is huge potential in areas like pre-owned automobiles, spare parts, servicing and supporting the chain. There is also a lot of untapped scope of bearings in the industrial segment.

Our product range includes ball bearings, taper roller bearings, cylindrical roller bearings, spherical roller bearings, axle boxes and our newly introduced- Needle Bearings. Apart from this, we are also making bearings for EVs and stepping into aerospace and defence segments. We consider this as an excellent time to enter this segment, given the present focus on ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ which will lead to lower import dependency for the companies in these segments. We have been engaged with a number of aerospace businesses and have learnt that there is a lot of room for a local players to proactively work with them from concept to production.
Inroads in the space and defence sectors, cross collaborations, and knowledge exchange can be defining partnerships for the segment.

Q. However the Indian market is competitive, what are the strategies that have been implemented by NBC BEARING in terms of marketing & product development to counter the competition?

We have aligned our objectives with the philosophy of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ to showcase our commitment towards the nation. We truly accredit our Research and Development team for upholding our excellence and meeting our vision. NBC is the only bearing manufacturer in the world to receive Deming Grand Prize for its quality.
It is critical for the R&D teams to be ready for the numerous and concurrent changes, transforming the industry as a whole. We have a dedicated R&D wing, where research is conducted in specialized areas such as advanced materials and processes, product design, tribology and lubrication, virtual simulation and testing. The constant push and focus on R&D has led to a substantial growth in patent filings for us. We work very closely with our customers to understand their requirement right from the concept stage and create bespoke solutions which are sustainable.

Q. What are the opportunities & challenges for Indian products in the global market?

With the industry coming back to normal after the pandemic, localisation of production appears to be an ideal goal before Indian manufacturers. It is the right time to build our capabilities inwards. While India’s potential is huge (owing to the continued rise in world-wide demand), there are challenges preventing 100% localisation. These constraints are limited not only to technology, but production costs as well. Unavailability of certain raw materials, and capability limitations and economies of scale are other challenges facing the industry.

While boosting domestic manufacturing is essential to growth, our focus also needs to be on international sales; expanding India’s global footprint is also an important goal. Therefore, looking out for merger and acquisition opportunities is key. These integrations are essential as they help expand businesses and diversify product range. These strategic partnerships will help take the Indian industry closer to the international consumer and give us a bigger playing field. Sustainability, quality and innovation will play a key role in this growth to make India play a bigger role in global manufacturing.

Q. What are the NBC BEARING’s future plans & are there any new products that will be introduced in near future to compete with other manufacturers?

On the product front, we added high RPM and low noise bearings for electric vehicles to our portfolio and have already started supplying to Indian and European EV customers.

On the investment front, we have lined up a capex plan which will largely be spent in construction of the new plant near Jaipur and machinery. This new plant will have about 20 production lines in the first phase, which is expected to get completed by the mid of 2023. Last year, we had also collaborated with Amsted Seals to start a greenfield project, NBC-Brenco in Jaipur to manufacture railway bearing seals in India. NBC-Brenco plans to add automotive seals and products with metal fabrication in the future. We will also be introducing more bearings for Electric Vehicles, along with smart bearings and high speed bearings and our industrial range of bearings is being enhanced with spherical & cylindrical bearings.

On top of that, we’re actively exploring aerospace, defence, space-exploration and other sectors, to grow. Apart from the activities we are doing in India, we will continue to expand our presence in international markets. We will also continue to look for expansion opportunities to fuel our growth.

Q. What are the key technological trends that are driving your product industry?

We are keeping pace with the developments in the automotive segment and expect it to grow steadily. One segment that we are bullish about is the industrial segment where there is a lot of scope for growth as the market is huge. We’ll put special efforts to grow our business in this segment in the coming future. Apart from this aerospace segment, although at very initial stages, looks promising for the long run.

Q. As per opinion what are the initiatives that all manufacturers needs to take up to equip for the future?

The need of the hour is less dependency on imported products and developing a local supplier ecosystem. This will help local manufacturer expand to not only cater to local demand but also explore international markets. With digitalization, India’s industries should work on planning production, preparing their buffer inventories, forecasting demand, and rebuilding supply chains at optimised costs. It is also a ripe time for manufacturers to invest on systematic research and development to maximise benefits from the globalisation of the industry. Government support is needed in ready availability of capital at lower rates, ease of doing business, low energy costs and internationally competitive logistics infrastructure.

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