Best Practices in Bearings Industries

Thrust Areas For Technology

The thrust areas for indigenous technology would include :

Customer Increasing Expectations :

With a cross-section of bearing customers to discover how supplier requirements are changing in today's intense competitive landscape. Here's what we heard, loud and clear:

  1. Product Availability & Cost Control

  2. Process Improvement

  3. Service Reliability

  4. Benchmarking Assistance

  5. Measurable Value

  6. Intangible Value: "The Personal Touch"

Key takeaway:

Leading bearing consumers are moving from transactional to strategic relationships with key suppliers today. These specialists are viewed as value generators, not cost loads. Traditional core distribution values (logistics, transaction processing, etc.) remain critical measures, but are part of a larger set of metrics. Knowledge-based services provided by bearing specialists – specialized product knowledge, knowledge of specific plant/production/process challenges, corporate procedures – raise the level of engagement to yield a higher return on investment.

Additionally, It has been researched key supply chain trends in 2005 to identify how the best manufacturing and process users of bearings address critical challenges.

Today's global competitive landscape is putting unprecedented demands on production/process managers and maintenance supervisors. While a global economic recovery has spurred a rise in production rates, plants and facilities are almost universally squeezed with fewer internal resources. Fewer maintenance and purchasing staff are managing a reduced operating budget and capital spend. Internal skill sets that traditionally provided a knowledge base for design, production, operating and maintenance support have been depleted over the past five years.

Plant/facility managers have had to find alternate and smarter ways to improve production reliability, labor efficiency, material optimization, warranty and service management across the asset base, including bearing usage. To address this challenge, most organizations have instituted some form of vendor management program as part of a larger continuous improvement initiative. These initiatives include supply chain optimization, vendor rationalization, asset lifecycle management, Six Sigma and lean process improvement efforts.

These industry and competitive forces have driven a few key trends:

Enduring & Changing Value of Distribution:

The traditional core values of distribution haven't changed, but their relative importance clearly has as alternate channels, sourcing options and competitive pressures have mushroomed in recent years. Why?

Bearing purchasers and end-users are being squeezed from all sides. The rising cost of raw materials is pushing production costs steadily up, while customers downstream steadfastly resist attempts to pass those costs along in higher prices for products that use bearings or production processes that involve bearing replacement. This research identifies how certain distribution functions retain their importance today. Other distribution services, sometimes called "value-added," have become key tools to help bearing customers meet today's tough requirements.

Best-in-Class bearing consumers clearly differentiate in their ability to extract the service-oriented skill sets of their distributors to compensate for fewer internal resources. In short, they look beyond "traditional" distribution functions – sourcing, inventory, credit, sales/fulfillment, technical support – to obtain more complex and deeper value-producing capabilities. The relationships are deeper, better, and more cost-effective than more traditional approaches.

The functions and value a distributor provides is unique in the mix of product and service capabilities delivered to the market. At the very foundation of distribution value is its logistical function as a conduit of products from manufacturer to end user. Traditionally, the time-place functions of distribution dominate any discussion of value: Get the right product to the right place at the right time at the right price.

Distribution has always been unique in the delivery of a combination of products and services to provide solutions to customers. But the combination of services to achieve this basic goal has always had an almost infinite number of variables, depending on very specific customer operating environments, conditions, and even cultures. There is a wide array of pre-sale, sale and post-sale functions and services that are generally bundled with the sale of product.

One research indicates core distribution functions continue to be necessary and high value services, but there is increasing focus on what is often termed value-added services, as outlined in the graphic below.