Total Shaft SolutionsMon, 10/21/2013 - 15:35
Q: How do SKF’s services and five technology platforms benefit maintenance, monitoring, and optimizing asset performance throughout a mine’s life?
A: For many years SKF has been a major supplier of bearings and units to different industries, and has developed its seals and lubrication businesses at the same time. As an integrated solutions provider, SKF’s platforms approach allows us to combine our available technologies in order to satisfy or exceed our customers’ requirements. The clearest example of this is our ‘SKF Solution Factory’ concept, through which we draw on all of our expertise and knowledge to design tailor-made solutions for our customers. We have one SKF Solution Factory in Mexico, located in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. We provide complete solutions, as opposed to most of our competitors who only have one or two of the five platforms that SKF has. There is no other brand, globally or locally speaking, that offers the whole package that we have. SKF continues to expand its services to help customers to achieve their productivity and reliability goals, and provides the mining industry with a wide range of products and services that contribute to improved productivity, reliability, profitability, and safety. The company has close relationships with OEMs and end users worldwide and is now increasing its presence with engineering and procurement and construction consultants, with the aim of getting more SKF solutions specified and installed in new mine developments. We are looking to focus on total life cycle management of an asset, being involved right from the specification, design and development of a new product or technology, up to its manufacture, operation and maintenance, looking to increase the efficiency of the asset at every stage. Our R&D centers on different continents work not just at the end-user level, but at the initial design level as well.
Q: What unique technical and commercial solutions does SKF offer to meet the needs of the Mexican mining industry?
A: SKF has a broad reach through its extensive sales and distribution networks. The SKF life cycle management philosophy and approach means that SKF is involved in machinery performance from cradle to grave. Our technology offering is unique, not only because of our product portfolio but also because of our ability to combine and apply various solutions to solve specific problems. We believe our main strength is our people’s ability to understand customer needs and translate them into practical solutions. This is how we gain our customers’ trust. Particularly in Mexico, our sales and engineering force is by far the largest and most knowledgeable in the industrial market. We believe that in order to realize our vision to ‘equip the world with SKF knowledge’ a lot of highly skilled resources are needed, so we spend more time with our customers in order to provide them with better support. We are trying not only to be focused on technology but also to add ‘brains’ to the machinery. With new technology and our new approach to optimizing asset efficiency we can understand our customers’ maintenance strategies and we can help them to improve key performance indicators. In addition, we have also developed a map that shows the entire mining process and the solutions we offer that meet mining companies’ needs within each stage of the process. We are focused not only on the product but on the whole asset life cycle. Our main tool for identifying areas for improvement within customer processes is the Client Needs Analysis (CNA) survey, which allows us to benchmark our customers’ maintenance practices and locate the stage they have reached.
Q: How is SKF’s emphasis on the innovation and development of its technology, together with the experience it has in different industries, increasing its worldwide presence?
A: SKF has invested heavily in technology, oriented mostly towards monitoring equipment conditions. In addition, we acquired several companies operating across different platforms including sealing solutions, lubrication systems, mechatronics, power transmission, and services. As a result we better understand the needs our customers, including monitoring the conditions of their machinery, and we grew from being a specialist in products to being a specialist in machinery. With monitoring technologies we developed the ability to identify what the real status of the machinery is. We can work out what is happening to the equipment and apply the best steps to increase productivity and reliability.
In addition to the technology, we have a program called Documented Solutions Program (DSP), with which we collect data on the equipment, the whole unit, and we identify potential savings not only in the cost of maintenance and repair, but also in the total cost of running the equipment.
Q: What role does human capital play in SKF gaining an understanding of different mining environments?
A: The key lies in our people and our proximity to our customers. SKF started moving its people to our field workshops, which started as a local strategy. We then increased SKF’s presence by growing the team, going from 10 sales engineers to more than 25, who have been strategically located in our offices in Hermosillo, Chihuahua, Monterrey, Monclova, Torreon, Saltillo, and San Luis Potosi. SKF’s Solution Factories are also providing strategic know-how, solutions, and innovation to end users. Of the 25 Solution Factories around the world, Mexico has the company’s 16th, in Monterrey, and is planning a second facility in Hermosillo, Sonora. This is part of our global strategy of going from five to 15 Solution Factories in North America, as well as the aim of reinforcing our presence in the northwestern mining region of Mexico.
Q: How are SKF’s strategies geared towards the delivery of energy-efficient and innovative solutions that benefit both mining customers and the environment?
A: A company like SKF can make an important impact on the environment, ranging from the raw materials it selects and how they are used and processed to the level of energy the products use in customers’ installations, and the way in which products are disposed of when they come to the end of their useful life. The steps SKF takes to address environmental risks and opportunities are based on a solid understanding of environmental life cycle management. This is something the group has invested in and built up over the last 10 years, through numerous life cycle assessments and applying focused R&D in this area.
Q: What role does Mexico play in the company’s global strategy today?
A: SKF started as a sales operation in Mexico, and eventually acquired a small manufacturing operation in Puebla, called IBISA. Although SKF was well known as a full-range bearing supplier, SKF’s local strategy evolved to manufacturing products for automotive applications and globally to the platform approach. For a long time all of the industrial products used in industries such as mining have been imported from several manufacturing facilities around the world. As a result, our market offering has always followed global trends, and has been in line with SKF’s global solution focused strategy.
Mexico is important for our global business for two main reasons: the first is that Mexico has many different industries that SKF can target, such as mining, metal, cement, food and beverage, sugar, pulp and paper and oil and gas industries. It is a must for all companies in the SKF Group to follow the global strategy, and one of the most important strategic decisions taken by SKF Global was to switch the client approach from being product-oriented to solutions-oriented. Focusing on maintenance practices and life cycle management helped us to stand out from product oriented competitions. However, competitors have since started to follow our lead. SKF solutions can help mining operations increase productivity and profitability, improve worker safety, reduce environmental impact, cut energy consumption, and reduce unplanned downtime. Our combination of industry knowledge, solutions and local presence will allow us to keep increasing our market share in Mexico.