Reliability Key to Staying Ahead of the CurveThu, 10/17/2019 - 13:11
Timeliness and high-quality products are the hallmarks of a dependable supply chain provider. Although there are many ways to achieve this goal, for giant bearings and power transmission products manufacturer Timken, it boils down to a two-pronged strategy: communication and quality. “We communicate directly with our distributors and end-users to maintain a solid communication channel that allows us to keep up with demand,” says Gerardo Angulo, the company’s Director General for Mexico.
The second part of the equation, quality, is a direct legacy of company founder Henry Timken’s approach. “Mr. Timken always said that he would not put his name on any product that could taint it,” says Angulo. The brand and its reputation for quality are the company’s most important assets, he adds.
Also playing into both elements are reliability and stock availability and to this end, Timken defines inventory through the analysis of historical data to make future projections. “We try to understand the future requirements of our clients and work with our internal supply chain to have the product ready on time,” Angulo says. As some products are specific to a machine, delivery times can be between eight months to one year, so the company must work based on long-term projections.
Timken employs three models for inventory management and distribution: stocking inventory itself, leaving critical parts with distributors and offering consignment programs to users. “The key is to have the product ready when it is needed,” Angulo explains. The company has a large storage warehouse in Estado de Mexico, which is complemented by its collaboration with authorized distributors in the mining industry. Timken also works with major mining companies in Mexico.
To keep up with demand, innovation is also key, but according to Timken’s values, it must be carried out strategically. “When investing in new machines, we must be careful to avoid those that use parts that become obsolete. This is the fairest thing we can do for our distributors,” Angulo says. “Our offering is key for the mining industry as miners rely on products that they can trust.”
In its attempt to consolidate a comprehensive portfolio offering for mining, Timken embarked on a series of acquisitions, starting in 2003. Today, its acquisition targets in the mining sector are focused on power transmission lines, such as chains, couplings, belts and lubrication systems. Some of its acquisitions include Philadelphia Gear, Drives, Revolvo and Carlisle. “When thinking about buying a company, we look for products that match our portfolio, that we do not have and would be nice to include, and that we can potentialize through our distribution network,” Angulo says.
Sometimes the bought companies lack the resources to grow and Timken, with its solid distribution network and renowned brand, helps them reach full potential. “We typically buy SMEs that offer high quality and that enjoy a good reputation in their markets,” Angulo says. “Quality is always our top priority, as the Timken name is our main asset. We see a niche where we can become a player and we invest in it. This is our strategy.”
Mexico remains a crucial market and its mining revenue is expected to grow up to 10 percent over the next year. “Mexico’s culture, resources and people make it a very good place to grow,” he says. While political uncertainty may echo across the industry, Angulo emphasizes that mining is more dependent on commodity-price cycles. “I believe that the mining outlook through 2020 is positive and if the market contracts, it will be due to commodity prices,” he says. Overall positive about the country’s outlook, Angulo also believes that the future will be shaped by the new government’s reform initiatives regarding taxes and mining law provisions.