A relationship of mutual benefit

Leading industrial bearings supplier SKF expects most of its sales from a new manufacturing facility in India to come from the wind sector. While the wind industry accounts for just 3% of SKF's international business, it expects over 65% of the sales from its new plant in Ahmedabad in Gujarat to come from wind turbine makers, particularly its main client, Suzlon. The Ahmedabad factory, due online in early 2009, will make bearings for turbines of 800 kW and above, it says, as well as main shafts and bearing rings for Suzlon.

"There is a 20% growth in India and no let-up in orders," says the company's Tom Johnstone. "Our order book is full and we do not expect the wind sector to slow down dramatically." SKF has a close relationship with Suzlon subsidiary SE Forge, which makes large forging and casting products, mainly for the wind industry. "We supply the raw materials, they supply us bearings," says Suzlon boss Tulsi Tanti. The agreement between the two companies covers an initial period of five years with a total contract value of EUR 303 million.

SKF also supplies seals, lubrication systems, mechatronics and services to support business development. Vestas and Enercon are already on its client list in India, says the company, and it is reportedly in discussions to carry out condition monitoring of wind turbines for RRB India and others.

"Customers are showing interest in the integrated online condition monitoring, as well as remote monitoring services that enable early diagnosis of potential failures," says Johnstone. "This can improve operational efficiency and reduce planned and unplanned downtime. Insurance companies require this in the West, though it's not a norm as yet in India."

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