India’s Bearing Pioneer Turns to Global Expansion – interview


Bearing News had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Mr. Rohit Saboo, President & CEO of National Engineering Industries Ltd. (NEI), manufacturer of NBC Bearings, India’s first bearing brand. In this interview Mr. Saboo, a highly credentialed and experienced professional, provides a candid overview of NEI’s history, its expansive infrastructure, versatile capabilities, and plans for future growth.

Can you tell us more about your background and the story of National Engineering Industries?

I am an Engineering graduate from Birla Institute of Technology, MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology, NY and also participated in Senior Executive Program from Columbia University, NY. My journey with CK Birla Group is more than 25 years with experience in corporate strategy, business planning, operations management, operational excellence, manufacturing and R&D. Currently I hold the position of President & CEO of National Engineering Industries Ltd. (NEI), manufacturer of NBC Bearings, India’s first bearing brand.

Founded in 1946, NEI is a part of the US$ 2.4 bn CK Birla group and is India’s leading bearings manufacturer and exporter, recognized for excellence in quality and delivery. With production of more than 200 Mn bearings annually in over 2300+ variants for application across automotive, railways, aerospace and industrial segments, NBC Bearings are exported to more than 30 countries. NBC Bearings has grown from a pioneer in India, to become a global supplier of bearings and flexible engineering solutions, renowned for its superior quality, precision and durability.

Which type, and range of bearings do you mainly produce?

We produce a comprehensive range of bearings for sectors like automotive, industrial, and railway applications. Our product range includes ball bearings, taper roller bearings, cylindrical roller bearings, spherical roller bearings and needle bearings. Large size bearings and axle boxes are among other major products. Apart from this, we have developed electric vehicle (EV) bearings.

In EV industry, our current offerings include EMB series (for electric motor) and SIB series (sensor integrated). These have features like high rpm capable, reduced noise and friction, power-dense and improved life compared to traditional bearings. We are already supplying these to some of the EV OEMs in the space of 2W, 3W and passenger cars and are engaged with global OEMs in commercial vehicle space. Apart from the bearings for EV, we are also focussing on expanding our portfolio into other critical sectors like aerospace and defence industries in order to reduce import dependency for the country.

Is it possible to share with us your’ manufacturing infrastructure and R&D capabilities?

Headquartered in Jaipur, India – NEI is the only bearings manufacturer in the world to win the prestigious Deming Grand Prize (2015). With an employee strength of over 2,800 and five manufacturing plants in Jaipur, Newai (Rajasthan), Manesar (Haryana) and Vadodara (Gujarat), NEI is equipped with global manufacturing and process technology and one of the best R&D centres in India. Apart from being technologically advanced, we practice methods of sustainability by using alternate sources of energy and increasing the efficiency of the manufacturing process by leveraging on the power of digitisation.

We are further expanding our manufacturing footprint in Bagru, near Jaipur where we will setup new lines for manufacturing bearings over the next four years. We have also entered a JV with Amsted Seals to manufacture railway bearing seals in India. With installed capacity of two million units per year, we will be supplying products in India as well as to international markets. Our Global Technology Centre based out of Germany is staffed with application engineers who collaborate with our global customers to better understand business needs and provide the most appropriate solutions.

To which countries is National Engineering Industries actively exporting it’s products?

Over the years, NBC has become a global bearing manufacturer and exporter out of India, with 20% of our revenue coming from exports. Our customers are based in 30+ countries including Germany, Japan and China. We have partnered with prestigious brands like Brenco (US) and NTN Corporation to expand our product portfolio. In 2020, NBC also acquired Kinex bearings in Europe to enhance and diversify in order to provide best-in-class products to our existing and potential customers and to be close to the international customers. We also have our sales offices in US, Europe and Asian countries to cater to our international customers. We are building our design and research capabilities in Europe to further strengthen our existing setup.

Apart from the OEMs we service in Americas and Europe, we also cater to the replacement business in SAARC and Middle East countries.

Can you share some of your main industries and applications served?

NBC Bearings are widely used by 2 and 3 Wheelers, Cars, Trucks, Tractors, Electric Motors, Railway Wagons, Coaches & Locomotives, Steel Mills, Heavy Engineering Plants, Cement, Mining and Thermal Power Plants. The automotive and railway industries form the two largest client segments for us.

Do you have any future expansion and investment plans which you would like to share with the Bearing News magazine readers?

We have undergone multiple economic, social, and policy changes, with a view to enhance the quality of our products and services, thereby addressing the needs of the stakeholders, keeping pace with the changing times. We are growing rapidly and will more than double our revenue by 2026.

NBC Bearing is working with several leading research institutes and centers in India and abroad to develop the advanced design, testing, and validation capabilities, and is preparing to offer aerospace bearing solutions by establishing a world-class manufacturing facility with AS9100 certifications and the necessary NADCAP certifications. Our subsidiary, Kinex also has vast experience in aerospace bearing design and manufacturing.

How do you foresee the future of the bearing industry further developing?

Bearing industry is growing at a decent pace across the world with new automobiles being introduced and rising industrial production. There are several developments that are happening to the size, quality and speed of the bearings due to numerous new applications in different segments. The developments in the electric vehicle segment will also fuel the demand. Besides this, the new generation bearings are lighter, faster and sustainable which are the emerging requirement from the industry. The new- age bearings with sensors enable users to take data-based decisions which make the processes even more efficient. All this will propel the growth in the coming years.

More information about National Engineering Industries can be found at the link.


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