Demand for bearings worldwide is projected to grow by nearly 5% annually, reaching 80 billion Euro within the next 5 years. This accelerated growth follows the downturn in the Covid-19 pandemic and the reversal of the post-Covid policies/limitations. Disrupting current events continue to leave elements of uncertainty; including the Russia/Ukraine War, shortage of raw materials, inflation and the current Macroeconomic policies. Still, an increase in consumer spending is leading to positive growth in the global economy. Foreign investment in heavily concentrated manufacturing sectors, such as Asia/Pacific is trending upward. And finally, new bearing technology and development are being driven forward along with growing environmental concerns and a push for more ecological and carbon-neutral products.
Global Bearing Industry is Rebounding from the Pandemic
Pandemic restrictions are easing increasing the activity of people and businesses. Consumer spending and the demand for durable goods are increasing in most countries. Supply chains are leveling out and there is a reduction in the financial limitations derived from fluctuations in the value of currencies and loan availability. These factors along with others have helped the world economy, and thus the global bearing industry recovers from a double- digit drop in demand for tangible products not intended for immediate consumption.
Since this decline, more bearings are now needed around the world in all major industries. Price sensitivity experienced by both manufacturers and consumers is becoming less impactful which reinvigorates the strategic investment and R&D spending. New product rollouts are no longer widely being delayed. Finally, with an increase in the use of machinery, including the use of automobiles, bearing replacements are once again vastly needed, driving improvement in aftermarket sales.
Regional Demand and Supply
In the next 5 years, the Asia Pacific Region will account for the largest percentage of growth with China and India leading the way. The Asia/Pacific countries are ideal for bearing growth due to the focus on exports and competitive costing. The global marketplace is dominated by large multinational bearing corporations. Most major bearing producers will strategically concentrate manufacturing facilities in countries with large domestic markets. Today, China has one of the largest domestic markets and has become a hotspot for almost every major bearing producer. The country continues to drive the region in growth, and also continues to consolidate. The most advanced bearing manufacturing industries remain in Japan, the United States, Sweden, and Germany. These countries are home to several of the world’s top bearings producers. The companies serving these large developed markets focus on highly technical, high-value bearings. While these countries maintain strong domestic bearing producers, they rely on imports from lower-cost countries to meet the basic needs of their domestic markets.
It is expected that the demand and the production for bearings will continue to increase in Europe, together with the reshoring initiatives and the general increase of manufacturing activities. The main challenge remains on the mid- and long term the supply and diversification of energy resources, which will be needed for a sustainable output. The key drivers for the coming years will be the investments in the durable products industries and the recovery of the aftermarkets.
With over 60% of the global production and demand; the Asia / Pacific is expected to benefit the most from the economic growth in the coming period. Japan, China and India will be the driving force behind the increasing production and exports of bearings. The growing population and increase of the general income will boost the economic growth further in this region.
The demand is expected to be one of the fastest growing in this region till 2030, with the increase of foreign investments, manufacturing capabilities, big infrastructure projects and the demand fueled by the population boom.
The demand for bearings is expected to grow by an average of 3% a year in the coming 5 years in this region, which includes Mexico, US and Canada. Japan and China are currently the main suppliers for the North American industries and the expectation is that this trend will remain.
The demand in Central & South America is expected to be higher than 6% a year till 2030. The countries within the region recovered rapidly with the industrial output post-Covid-19, and the sales of bearings recovered sharply. Brazil is creating the largest demand and supply in the region.
Rapid Growth for Bearings
Large manufacturing industries account for a high percentage of the bearing demand. These include but are not limited to automobiles, aerospace applications, heavy machinery, industrial equipment, engines, and other power transmission mechanisms. Each of these individual markets experiences recurrent trends. Most original equipment manufacturers maintain safety stock in anticipation of higher demand. In financially trying times, such as the one experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, manufacturers will delimit inventory and reduce on-hand materials. When demand returns and inventories need to be replenished, manufacturers will intensify production levels and demand for bearings will increase. For the next 5 years, global bearing sales are expected to grow substantially, with motors and automotive driving well over 1/3 of new product demand.
Beyond the Covid-19 pandemic, the most impactful current event that will disrupt future economic gains is the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Uncertainty in global markets is leading to hesitancy by investors, inflation, and further disruption of global supply chains. Energy + food production sectors are the most sensitive and of particular concern, however, redirection of resources and adjustments to supply chains are driving demand into other regions.
Most bearing producers and suppliers are insulated from downturns in specific regions and/or countries. This is because bearings are critical components heavily relied upon across the world. Demand can vary by market, being high in one region, while remaining low in others.
Environmental concerns are likely to play a role in the future of the global bearing market, as the focus on sustainability and energy efficiency continues to grow. As consumers and governments become increasingly aware of the environmental impact of products and production processes, there will be a shift towards more energy-efficient and environmentally- friendly (carbon neutral) bearings.
Another area of focus in the bearing market is the use of renewable and recycled materials. There is growing interest in the use of recycled materials in the production of bearings, as these materials can help to reduce the environmental impact of the manufacturing process. In addition, the use of renewable energy sources in the production of bearings is likely to become more important, as companies look to reduce their carbon footprint and meet increasingly stringent environmental regulations.
Overall, following the downturn in the Covid-19 pandemic, and the still ongoing war situation, the bearing industry is still running and rolling. the future of the global bearing market full of exciting opportunities and challenges on the horizon. The increasing demand from emerging markets are likely to play a significant role, driving further growth and innovation in the industry. As many regions and countries continue to develop and industrialize, the demand for bearings and other mechanical components is likely to increase, presenting exciting opportunities for manufacturers.