SKF India at 100 – Ready To Take on Tomorrow 

This year, SKF India is celebrating a century of quality, innovation, Leadership, and Nation- Building while India celebrates 77 years of Independence and 75 years of diplomatic relations with Sweden.

SKF, a global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, and lubrication systems, started its operations in India in 1923 by establishing its first factory in Kolkata. For the last 100 years, SKF India has demonstrated an unwavering belief in developing solutions that meet the requirements of friction reduction, energy efficiency, and reliable rotation.  
 
From innovating, designing, and engineering to manufacturing and servicing, it has been striving to meet the needs of Indian customers in an ever-changing industry. This has helped them to maintain their leadership in the market. Over the years, SKF has been a trusted partner to several industries in India, including automotive, aerospace, energy, and railways, among others. It is interesting to note how SKF works towards the minimization of energy wastage by about 20% to overcome friction. 
 
My introduction to SKF began in 1997 while executing my first Sweden report with the publishers I got engaged with. Throughout my interactions with SKF business leaders in India and Sweden, it became apparent that their dedication to the Indian market was unwavering for a long. Below are some noteworthy comments from these leaders over the years that you can access in the attached printed articles.

SKF India at 100 - Ready To Take on Tomorrow

A content piece published in my first report on Sweden in 1997 mentioned, “With rapid growth envisaged in Asia, SKF is best geared to meet the growing demand for new product development and timely delivery requirements”. The present export business volume is about INR 30 Crores, and we expect it to triple by 2000. 

SKF India at 100 - Ready To Take on Tomorrow

My first visit to SKF, Gothenburg

During my first visit along with my colleague to Sweden in 1999 for a similar initiative in collaboration with the Swedish Embassy in India, I had an opportunity to experience the fully automated facility of SKF at Gothenburg before an interaction with Lars H Malmer, Sr. VP Group Communication. Malmer mentioned, “India is strengthening its position as the world player. We are showing belief in India by updating technology and investing in Indian industry”. During the discourse, he also emphasized that SKF Group India Subsidiary has maintained its technological edge as well as the dominant market position and the commitment to the Indian market in terms of future investment will remain strong. 

On similar lines Torsten Nordgren MD. SKF Bearings India Ltd. explained that “Since 1997, SKF has been implementing an extensive restructuring program called Pune 2000 to technically upgrade the plant. The total program encompasses an investment of 150 crores during 1997-2000”. However, Torsten did mention the pain points relating to the existing grey sector or unorganized bearing manufacturers, including legal brand infringements and copying. But, he believed that the growing quality awareness among Indian customers and better realization of total value quality and life cycle cost versus cheap price shall help. 

SKF India at 100 - Ready To Take on Tomorrow

“The bearing industry has been commoditized even though it is a high technology product”. said Rakesh Makhija, MD, in his interaction in 2002. He believed that the principal challenge for SKF then was to bring back the value element to the business. The outgoing Managing Director of India, Torsten Nordgren, mentioned, “The customer today is looking for solutions, not merely products, and SKF has re-oriented itself to the market through the business unit approach to deliver solutions relevant to the segment. Company is now firmly focused on Value Leadership, quality, and productivity”.

SKF India at 100 - Ready To Take on Tomorrow

In 2004, SKF in India underwent a name change from SKF Bearing India Ltd to SKF India Ltd. Rakesh Makhija mentioned, “Though on paper it seems like a minor change, underlying and very important message is that SKF has moved beyond only bearings, from being a products company to a solution and service company, focused on providing a complete portfolio of value-added services to enhance our customer’s competitive edge. Our name change is an expression of our broadened horizon where we continue to re-invent ourselves with the latest in technology, solutions, and services”.

To mark the 100-year milestone this year, SKF has unveiled the centennial logo under the theme “Towards an Intelligent and Clean Future”. The company has also undertaken a mega celebratory event for employees, supplemented with a centennial gala dinner for customers, suppliers, distributors, and other external stakeholders during March, in Pune.

Manish Bhatnagar, President – India and South East Asia (SKF India) during a media interaction over the centenary celebration, acknowledged the contribution of customers, partners, shareholders, and everyone who has been an integral part of the journey that had seen SKF grow in India over the last century. He appealed for their continued confidence and trust as they work to build the foundation for the next century and beyond.

Peeush Srivastava

Peeush is an International Media Specialist with 25+ years of experience with Indian and International Media Platforms f More »

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