Power the Future Report: Powering the future

2015 February 04, 09:05 CEST

Gothenburg, Sweden, 3 February 2015: Over 100 years ago, Sven Wingvist invented the self-aligning ball bearing and founded SKF. Since then, we have played our role in helping to reduce friction in the mechanised world, and as a result our business has grown quickly and globally to become a leader in industry. Today, we operate in 130 countries around the world, employ some 48,000 people and have an annual turnover of SEK 6.7 billion. All of this can be attributed in part to our focus on powering innovation: progressing our products and services, empowering our people and challenging ourselves to constantly push the boundaries of what’s possible.

Our business value across all segments in which we operate is to make sure that we keep machine shafts rotating and equipment moving over their expected lifetime. At SKF, we always continue to fine tune products and solutions to bring higher value to our customers and to make them more competitive. This emphasis on developing complete and innovative solutions helps to make machines more reliable, more energy efficient and to also reduce the total cost of ownership for our customers. However, it is also important that we focus with our customers on Asset Life Cycle Management, right from the early design phase through to remanufacturing, and finally, replacement. Therefore, we place an equally vital emphasis throughout our business on assisting our customers after installation and during operation.

Indeed, it is this emphasis on Asset Life Cycle Management that has led to some of our most ground-breaking developments. More than 30 years ago, for example, we made history by developing the bearing sub surface fatigue life calculation, which subsequently became the ISO standard throughout industry. However, as time has moved on and we have gained deeper understanding of the reasons behind bearing failure, we have applied this knowledge and technical experience to further develop this important model. The results of this development will be showcased at Hannover Messe 2015, the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology, however the notion of continuous improvement that this development demonstrates is evidenced throughout this report.

As technology continues to evolve at an increasingly rapid pace throughout the world of engineering and beyond, it is vital that engineering businesses, including SKF, consider the implications that this will have on their products, services and business models as well as their customers at all levels: factory, machinery and workforce.

All of SKF’s new product and service development projects are based on a number of important factors, including extensive experience gathered over many years, a dedicated and efficiently trained workforce that has industry leading knowledge, and a specific intention of where and how a new product is to be used.

The forward thinking culture that we pride ourselves on is essential to remaining a market leader. This is especially true in the engineering sector, where one ground-breaking idea can change the face of a whole product market. Recognising and keeping ahead of industry trends is as much a part of successful development as anything else, which is why we have put together this report, which outlines our vision of the future for the sectors we work in.

So, why this report? Well, we have drawn on our many years of experience to paint a detailed picture of areas within production and manufacturing that we think will experience significant evolution in the near future. We have also combined our efforts with a carefully chosen selection of independent academic and objective industry experts, who have specifically contributed their expertise through a number of fascinating articles.

Through this report, readers will develop a greater knowledge of three main areas of interest that we predict will continue to grow in importance and become more prevalent in the day to day operations of industry. These topics include: The evolution of the factory; the future of intelligent machine design; and the power of knowledge engineering.

The evolution of the factory is a common topic among the engineering sector. Already, although on a tiny scale, we have begun to see the influence of technological advances - such as in the utilisation of smart devices - on factory processes. In this chapter, the factory of the future is discussed, with specific focus on how it will look, what it will do and how the technology that powers it will work.

Further to the use of smart technology, the role of the Internet of Things is potentially one of the biggest changes that the factory will experience since the introduction of automatic control of machinery. This is why in the second chapter of the report we take an in-depth look at the future of intelligent machine design and the influence of the Internet of Things and concepts such as Industry 4.0.

Last, but certainly not least, the third chapter in the report discusses the impact that the increasing reliance on IT, and the resulting data produced, will have on engineering companies and their workforces. It will also highlight the continuing need for innovation to keep up with an ever changing industry by discussing how to capture and deliver value.

By creating an environment that actively encourages improvement and development, through specific management procedures and analysis, SKF continues to lead the market in terms of innovation. Through continuing to nurture industrial activity and development, we in SKF believe we can power the future and unlock the next industrial revolution.


Bernd is Senior Vice President of Group Technology Development at SKF. He joined SKF in 1994 and has almost fifteen years’ experience of leading business units within both SKF’s industrial and automotive businesses and most recently held the position of Director of the Group’s renewable energy business unit. Bernd is experienced in engineering as well as product and manufacturing process development and holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Essen.

Bernd Stephan, Senior Vice President, SKF Group Technology Development

Aktiebolaget SKF

SKF is a leading global supplier of bearings, seals, mechatronics, lubrication systems, and services which include technical support, maintenance and reliability services, engineering consulting and training. SKF is represented in more than 130 countries and has around 15,000 distributor locations worldwide. Annual sales in 2013 were SEK 63,597 million and the number of employees was 48,401. www.skf.com

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