They safeguard industry with smart bearings

SKF is one of the truly stable pillars of Swedish industry. The global leader in ball and roller bearings for over a century, it is also a company that is investing heavily in digitalisation and new technology. This year SKF is a chosen ambassador for Elmia Subcontractor.

Per Wilhelmsson, Head of SKF’s Industrial Sales in Sweden and Norway

“There’s a lot of talk in industry today about visions for the future but we’re going a step farther and turning them into reality,” says Per Wilhelmsson, Head of SKF’s Industrial Sales in Sweden and Norway. He is referring to SKF’s centre of expertise, Rotating Equipment Performance Center, which opened in Gothenburg in March as the first of its kind in the world.


Detects the least deviation

The Center is connected over the internet directly to industry via sensors mounted on roller bearings in machines on the premises of various companies – ranging from huge paper mills and mining machinery manufacturers to bakeries. The sensors register the tiniest distortion or vibration, and SKF’s specialists at the Center then analyse and process the data for the customer in question.

“We can detect with great precision how the machine is behaving and say at an early stage if anything needs to be calibrated or inspected. Then we can develop the best solution in good time so that the customer can optimise their production and get a better-quality product,”

Wilhelmsson explains.


Great opportunities for OEMs

Because SKF first supplies roller bearings to machinery manufacturers and then supplies sensors and monitoring services to the companies using the machines, SKF is highly aware of the machines’ entire lifecycle and the end customers’ requirements. It is therefore surprising that many original equipment manufacturers still choose to sell their machines without pre-installed sensors, Wilhelmsson believes.

“The end customer wants sensors but usually we go there and install them after the fact, which of course is expensive for the customer. Instead, OEM manufacturers should be able to take control of their product and the after-market completely by using digitalisation. They should realise the competitive advantages in offering sensors as standard or as an option at the initial sales stage,” he says. He adds that Swedish suppliers need to cooperate to secure the position of Swedish industry and avoid being overtaken by other countries.

“We encounter many customers who are the world leaders in their field today but that doesn’t mean they’ll still be so tomorrow. Swedish industry must ensure it is technologically the best and that it offers innovative advantages.”

“When the system emits a warning signal or if an unplanned equipment failure happens, we can bring in the roller bearing for a root cause analysis and find the underlying causes, which helps us develop a solution so the problem doesn’t happen again,” explains Per Wilhelmsson, here with smart bearing expert analyst Michael Kjeldsen.
Per Wilhelmsson checks the situation with Carl-Fredrik Gustafson, Business Partner Controller, in SKF’s new REP Center. Here data from customers’ monitored machines is analysed to optimise their production process.