Distributing Costs with Long-Life BearingsTue, 01/30/2018 - 17:05
The Mexican oil and gas sector took a hard hit when crude prices sank, particularly the manufacturers of original equipment supplied to PEMEX, says Nacip Fayad, Sales Director of SKF. “Being an OEM, we noticed a slowdown in public tenders for spare parts starting in 2013, which became even worse during 2015 and 2016, a time during which we saw no public tender present in the oil and gas market,” he says. “The lack of capital to invest in spare parts was widespread during that period.”
According to Fayad, the reduced activity made SKF rethink its strategy and postpone its expansion plans for its oil and gas-bearing manufacturing facilities. Fortunately, thanks to the Energy Reform and the increasing number of players in the market, an upturn is starting to create the need for spare parts. “Although the consolidation of the Energy Reform is taking longer than we expected, we are noticing a slow increase in the number of public tenders for spare parts, which is a direct consequence of the uptake in oil and gas activities,” he says.
Considering future global trends, together with the reluctance of companies to invest capital in products, Fayad says SKF is interested in introducing the “bearing for life” concept to the Mexican market. The concept involves, at its very core, decreasing the acquisition costs of bearings by increasing their life cycles. “The bearing for life concept relies on life cycle management techniques,” he explains. “These take advantage of cutting-edge monitoring procedures that analyze the bearing’s entire life cycle behavior to recognize when it is getting close to a state that could potentially make it fail.” When such a state is identified, SKF can not only replace the component under controlled conditions, but also take it to a remanufacturing center that, through special techniques, will extend its life cycle period. According to Fayad, when using remanufacturing techniques developed by SKF, life cycle periods can double and even triple.
The bearing for life concept is not only valuable for increasing the cost-benefit provided to companies as the bearings can be used for much longer but also to help companies distribute their costs across longer time periods through what could be considered a maintenance contract, instead of punctual purchase orders, says Fayad. “Instead of selling the bearing, we are considering providing our customers with a contract that would guarantee the full availability of a bearing in optimal conditions, thus allowing them to transfer a one-time cost into a long-term contract.”
Bearing for life is a highly attractive concept that requires constant monitoring technologies that are capable of gathering and analyzing Big Data. Fayad says SKF is ready to take on the challenge. “At SKF’s data processing centers we can gather analyses provided by our data acquisition equipment installed all over the world, and from there make the best decisions,” he says. “One of the biggest advantages of this concept is that it is completely digital; it can be controlled from anywhere in the world where our specialists are located.”
While many may think that PEMEX is not ready to take the best advantage of such a top-tier concept, Fayad highlights that the NOC has been active in acquiring the necessary assets to make it possible. “PEMEX used to invest a lot in the type of monitoring equipment that could allow us to bring bearing for life into the Mexican market,” he says. He adds that PEMEX needs capital and technological capabilities to increase production. “Mexico is a rich country, it has plenty of reserves, but if they are buried underground they are not valuable. The general public has to understand that and help the country consolidate its Energy Reform.”