Paul Mitchell, managing director of Bowman International, says the ongoing battle between engineers and procurement departments to balance cost, performance and availability of components is forcing suppliers to innovate – which will deliver additional benefits for manufacturers.
He said: “We often speak to engineers who are being put under pressure to change specification by their purchasing department because the bearing they need is too expensive or apparently no longer available. In many cases, of course, the redesign can be even more expensive.
“Increasingly, engineers are turning to specialist suppliers to find suitable components such as bearings, which is why I believe availability will be such an important word in 2016. Manufacturers and suppliers that can guarantee availability – however specialist the requirement – will be the most valuable to their customers. We are also seeing the importance of rapid prototyping to reduce start-up costs and time to market.”
Paul Mitchell adds: “Bearings manufacturers have put a lot of investment into research and develpment in recent years and we are really starting to see the benefit as an industry. New alloys have been introduced, along with new techniques for manufacturing, testing and fault analysis.
“This level of innovation can help to minimise cost and maximise safety – both of which will remain critical for any manufacturer of course. Our new BowMet® range is a perfect example, manufactured from the unique ToughMet® alloy developed in USA to provide enhanced capabilities and reduced wastage.”
He concludes: “It used to be a requirement of the mass-market car manufacturing industry that a component manufacturer could ensure quality control and just-in-time delivery alongside the parts. Now we are seeing a growing demand for this level of service from other manufacturing industries including construction equipment, commercial vehicles and marine, amongst others. It is not unusual for components to be tested, packed, delivered and unloaded straight into the factory, driving significant cost efficiencies for the OEM.”