Could you give us a rundown of your products?
SKF’s vision is “A world of Reliable Rotation” and therefore, we aim to provide our customers with a wide array of tools, services and quality solutions for reliable performance based around four main products areas:
1. Wheel bearings
2. Engine products including timing belt kits, auxiliary belt kits and loose items, water pumps, freewheel alternator pulleys and dampers
3. Driveline products including drive shafts, constant velocity joints, CV-boots and steering boots
4. Suspension products
We offer over 20 000 references for wheel end, driveline and engine repairs – a complete repair with one kit.
Could you share with us the technology behind your products?
SKF is a global OE manufacturer and we play a specific role in the automotive industry in the two key segments: passenger cars and heavy duty trucks. The company manufactures one of every four OE hub units sold to cars in the world today. We work hand-in-hand with car producers to meet the toughest expectations with regard to modern cars and the design of their components.
How do you ensure that your products will be as eco-friendly as possible?
SKF continually strives to reduce the negative impact of its products on the environment from its own operations and those of its suppliers. This is covered by ISO 14001:2004 and OHSAS 18001:2007 management systems certificate. Furthermore, SKF BeyondZero policy combines this with the strategy to improve customers’ environmental performance through products, solutions and services that improve energy efficiency and reduce environmental impact. These are defined, measured and verified through inclusion in the SKF BeyondZero portfolio.
SKF is continually taking steps which address environmental impacts at different stages of the product life cycle, and the entire value chain of the business. Life cycle management allows the Group to put focus on raw materials selected, how these are utilized and processed, the energy used by SKF’s products when running in customers’ installations and the way in which products are disposed when they come to the end of their useful life.
SKF has once more been recognized as best-in-class within both environmental reporting and environmental management. In 2014, it was included in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Indexes (DJSI World) and the European sustainability index (DJSI Europe) for the fifteenth year in succession.
Which among your products prove your commitment to sustainability?
In SKF, we are mindful of the environmental impact of our products, hence we endeavor to develop eco-friendly solutions. These include driveline, suspension, engine components and of course wheel bearings. One good example: Proven mechatronic experience in railway and aerospace – SKF pioneered fly-by-wire technology, by which SKF enables more efficient, compact and reliable solutions for e-powertrain – modern hybrid and electrical cars. Those products are automotive sensor bearings, INSOCOAT and hybrid bearings, SKF eDrive Ball Bearing, SKF Energy Efficient tapered roller bearings and bearing retainers.
What are the tell-tale signs that the bearings on the vehicle need replacement?
Of course, the best way to keep your vehicle running is to have it inspected regularly at a professional garage. In general, it is noise coming from the bearing which is the most typical sign that something is going wrong. When the sealing fails, water and dust gets inside, thus washing out the grease and destroying the bearing very quickly. Another typical sign is vibration coming from the suspension, which might suggest mechanical failure of the wheel bearing.
How can customers differentiate an original bearing from a counterfeit one?
Some of our customers – distributors, dealers, mechanics – for the most part are not necessarily experts in differentiating original bearings from counterfeit ones. Even engineers and sales people can only find the difference by visual inspection sometimes. It might be quite straightforward to copy the shape and markings onto a bearing but that doesn’t mean a counterfeit bearing will perform in the same way. It will not. The only way to make sure your bearings are original is to source them from authorized SKF Distributors.
What measures are you taking to prevent the proliferation of fake automotive bearings in today’s industry?
SKF brand protection has cooperated with the authorities in more than 5500 legal actions against suspected counterfeit bearing dealers and manufacturers around the world. Counterfeit products were involved in all of the cases. Counterfeit products of all types pose a risk to people and the global economy. SKF focuses on protecting customers to prevent unexpected downtime, bodily harm to machinery operators and financial damage. The threat to society from counterfeit products is now universally recognized and the majority of SKF’s anti-counterfeit work involves ongoing support given to law enforcement agencies, customs and other authorities. In addition to supporting these agencies, SKF also works to increase awareness about counterfeiting in the market and the need to choose safe and reliable sources/authorized distributors. SKF’s anti-counterfeit work in the recent years has started to show results in the reduced availability of counterfeit products, with the South East Asian markets being a primary regional focus for SKF. Our customers can now directly contact SKF by sending an email to Genuine@SKF.COM with product details to verify the authenticity of the product. They can also use SKF Authenticate app by downloading it on APP Store.
What major challenges do you see in the automotive industry today? What measures do you use to help deal with these challenges?
The focus is to bring value to car development in energy efficiency and optimized performance, and to use less fuel or no fuel at all, for instance in hybrid and electric cars. The driving experience, comfort and safety together with cost of ownership and sustainability, are car manufacturers’ ongoing challenges. Bearings play an important role when it comes to reducing friction and weight, by different ways of design and choice of material. The challenge is to use engineering knowledge and respond quickly with the right solutions to help the automotive industry meet these challenges in a cost-effective way. SKF’s ongoing cooperation with technology and engineering-focused universities and companies, as well as technical partnership with the racing arena enable the development and growth of the types of knowledge needed. With skilled employees and advanced calculation and simulation tools, SKF keeps itself positioned to offer value to its customers.
Statistics reveal that Dubai has the highest rate of car ownership than any other city in the world. This is why there is also a huge demand for automotive parts in the city. How does SKF meet this demand?
The local Dubai market is very specific and unique. The high rate of car ownership suggests a big demand for spare parts. On the other hand, the city is still reasonably small, but the most important key factor is the car parc. The Dubai car population is very, very young. If you add to this the average wealth of people and those people being time-poor, you end up in the situation that most of the car repairs are done at OES or with OE parts only. Relatively, big numbers of counterfeit spare parts don’t help either. Currently, some of the independent garages are focused on servicing only inexpensive, old cars using very low quality spare parts. SKF is trying to change this trend.
Given the extreme weather conditions in the Middle East, how do you ensure that your products will function as intended for vehicles in this region?
All our products continue to meet the highest expectations of car producers. In SKF, before launching any massive OE production, we always run the series of demanding tests to make sure our products will work and last regardless of severe conditions: snow, rain, sand, dust, high or low temperatures, road conditions etc.
What do you consider as SKF’s best marketing strategy for the Middle East market?
Simply, the promotion of OE quality products below OES prices.
What factors affect the distribution of automotive bearings in the Middle East?
The uncontrolled flow of spare parts “in transit”. These are the bearings from different sources, different brands, often counterfeit parts that reach Dubai—an automotive regional hub in the Middle East and East Africa. This affects the stability of the regular distribution network.
Another issue is the distribution pattern. The Middle East now faces the shift from “exclusive distribution” to multi distribution. That includes our range, and we strongly support this direction by selecting and appointing new automotive aftermarket distributors.
Could you share with us your future plans for the Middle East bearing market?
We have very clearly defined goals for this region’s automotive aftermarket:
• To focus on increasing the number of unique references sold – enriching the range of existing lines
• To increase availability of our products by strengthening our distribution network
• To introduce new product lines that we successfully run in other parts of the world.
What sets your company apart from the other bearing companies today?
The automotive industry is a highly competitive arena. SKF has, with its long experience, skilled employees and a global footprint that provides a strong position for us to continue developing innovative solutions and services to meet the demands of our customers. SKF’s strong brand represents trust and reliability. SKF has been receiving awards as suppliers from lot of Automotive market trading groups. The last award we received was from GROUPAUTO in Oct 2016, the “Supplier of the year award” for product as well as service quality and our smoothness of working with GAI affiliates. SKF is strategic supplier to a lot of International trading groups like TEMOT, NEXUS, ATR, GAI etc.
Manju Mathew, an MBA in marketing, completed publisher training courses from the Oxford Brookes University and New York University. She started with marketing and PR roles before moving on to her current position as a full time writer. Currently living in Dubai, her life as an expat has sharpened her observation skills and flair for writing. She enjoys writing about luxury cars like Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc even if she can only dream of owning them.
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