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Rolling out the right solution

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SKF’s Solution Factory is dedicated to solving a customer’s operating challenges completely | By Team MT | With rising energy and material input costs, today, the manufacturing and core industries in India are facing a challenge of keeping the operating costs under check. Understanding these needs, SKF India has been closely associated with diverse industries to provide long term solutions. To meet these needs of the industry, the company came up with a concept called “Solution Factory”, an extension of the services that SKF offers. By combining multiple areas of product expertise, SKF’s Solution Factory is able to provide integrated, value-added solutions, whether customers are trying to solve a chronic equipment failure, or trying to reduce overall maintenance costs. “Whatever the operating challenges may be, the Solution Factory will provide a solution to it,” asserts Sudhir Rege, director, South Asia, SKF India.

“The solutions factory is where people and technology come together to create greater asset performance. We apply SKF knowledge and services to design, create and deliver custom solutions to our customer’s toughest productivity challenges. The solution factory is the single point of access to SKF’s entire industrial and application know-how,” says Rege. Catering 100% to what the customer wants, the solutions factory depicts how the company customises its processes to work with the customer better. “The aim is to improve reliability, reduce unplanned downtime, increase uptime, reduce business cost, reduce waste, energy use and of course in the end develop a competent product,” affirms Rege.

The company also lays emphasis on training. Situated in a lush green campus in the SKF premises, the training classroom has an information display arena and a knowledge centre. The training centre also doubles up as a residential facility with a recreation centre. British institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT) has approved SKF India as an approved training organisation. BINDT is an accredited certification body offering personal certification against criteria set by international European standards through internationally recognised PCN Certification Scheme.

Talking on the training facilities, Rege says, “The programmes could range from a day, certain months to a year depending on the requirement. We have tie ups with some of the leading PSUs in steel for an annual training programme and also with engineering institutes to train students. The training can be onsite or offsite depending on the requirement. We also have self-learning tools, which are computer based programs for students so that they can learn at their own convenience.

The solutions factory, essentially, does three critical functions that of spindle repair, remanufacturing of bearings and condition and monitoring. Elaborating Rege avers, “The spindle determines the final product quality and affects machine tool productivity, efficiency and maintenance requirements. We offer capabilities for reconditioning and optimisation of machine tool spindles with unmatched global support, providing services for spindles with different – designs, technologies, brands, defects, problems and applications.”

The spindle service centre follows a defined reconditioning process of disassembly and condition evaluation, determining corrective actions, dynamic balancing, motor and sensors validation, testing and run-in and service reporting. When returning a spindle to its original operating condition, SKF can also provide spindle upgrades and improvements such as: alternative super-precision bearings, re-design of bearing, seal and lubrication arrangements, sensors for speed, temperature, vibration, shock and humidity.

Bearings remanufacturing is another interesting concept and the company uses its new bearings manufacturing standard, processes, equipment, quality assurance, knowledge and competences as the basis for its bearings remanufacturing service. Certain application conditions – like contamination or sporadic metal–to-metal contact in the rolling contact zone – can cause all sorts of damage to bearings.

As a result, the service life of a bearing is often shorter than the calculated rating life. The alternative is to apply a controlled remanufacturing process before any major damage or bearing failure occurs. This can substantially prolong the service life of the bearing, reducing costs and lead times. And since it requires less energy than manufacturing a new bearing, it is better for the environment as well.

Explaining further benefits, Rege says, “The full benefits of adopting the remanufacturing program can be achieved when you also utilise SKF’s predictive maintenance expertise to ensure that you know the status of your plant machinery at all times.” All Predictive Maintenance (PdM) and condition monitoring programs try to detect machine conditions that will lead to failure and estimate the amount of time before that failure occurs. In addition to these PdM basics, the organisation’s program also includes a determination of which proactive tasks can help extend machine life. The factory also has a unique machine for sealing where it’s done in a matter of mere minutes. While this machine is imported the technology is their own.

“Thus, the solutions factory addresses two essential aspects. “One, when we look at spindle repair we are looking at a holistic approach of reconditioning and upgrading it. Two, for remanufacturing services we want to increase the service life of the bearing to reduce costs, downtime and environmental impact,” says Rege. Condition and monitoring is another business service that is available as portable and online. Portable is basically using handy instruments to collect data on a periodical or schedule basis. Here, a technical expert will take the instrument in hand and go to the machine, collect the data, remove the sensors and come back and analyse the software. With online, the sensors are permanently fixed on the machine and it is not removable. There is a software placed in the control room and thus the data can be monitored and analysed 24/7. Usually, the online process is used to monitor critical machines like in the cement industry.

“Our customers across almost every industry ask us for solutions to improve their productivity and reduce costs in a sustainable way. When they face new problems or challenges, or need help with a specific machine or require a life cycle management programme for operational assets, the solution factory can create customised solutions to solve their issues,” informs Rege. Although SKF has been producing products and solutions with a focus on energy and resource efficiency for more than 100 years, early in 2004, SKF realised that it could make a unique and significant contribution to reducing climate change with a new strategy. Hence, they launched BeyondZero with two goals – one, to reduce the negative environmental impact deriving from SKF operations and second, to increase the positive environmental impact delivered by SKF solutions. “The motto was to innovate and offer new technologies, products and services with enhanced environmental performance characteristics to customers,” asserts Rege.

The first goal of BeyondZero relates to reducing the environmental impact derived from SKF’s operations, such as the carbon dioxide emissions from their manufacturing or other emissions, such as those from suppliers. The second goal recognises that customers in all segments and industries are increasingly driven to reduce environmental impact from their products, services and processes. Rege adds, “Whether it is manufacturing, sales or logistics, the aim is to reduce the carbon footprint to the maximum. This also in turn helps our customers as they get products with lesser carbon footprints and helps them to be sustainable as well.”

SKF is dedicated to serve their customers and over the years have initiated ways to meet their needs. The solution factory is one of such ventures with the mission to provide value to customers through industry leading services and innovative products combined into engineered solutions for asset efficiency optimisation. It now plans to set up more solution factories in India, based on the customer’s requirements moving further closer to the customer.

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