Bringing your knowledge to customers to help them develop is good business sense for you, and your customers, so is not a passing fad. Knowledge Engineering is important for all companies active in reasonably complex B2B environments. It is a way to continuously develop market offerings and stay ahead of competition by delivering increased customer value.
There are four important trends. Firstly, the market has become truly global say Global customers, global manufacturing, global suppliers, global labor pool and global spread of information. This means that companies really need to see the global market as their market of operation. We have talked about a global economy for a while but in recent years this has become a reality.
Partnership between different partners in the supply chain is becoming a way of doing business. Combining the different expertise of your suppliers and customers with your own as a means to develop new technologies and solutions, as well as new ways of doing business in a cost effective way is growing.
The speed of change is very rapid today. Speed in the flow of information. Speed in the development of new products. Speed in change of customer requirements with new technology. For example the way that computers and IT is not only changing how we do business but also being brought into products and solutions to make them smarter and an integral part of the customers system.
Not many Scots would have imagined reaching the top in a company named Svenska Kullagerfabriken.
The company has a history that goes back more than one hundred years and already from the start the company was present in many geographical markets. They were active in many new emerging markets such as the BRIC economies of Brazil, Russia, India and China within the first 20 years of our existence.
Today they have presence in over 130 countries worldwide. This global presence, technology platforms and experience from more than forty different customer segments forms the three dimensions of SKF Knowledge. Today the company is much more than just bearings. They have 5 technology platforms – bearings, seals, mechatronics, services and lubrication solutions. All these together form the technology part of knowledge and SKF is unique in being a leading player in all these five platforms. The company’s objective is to use their knowledge to make their customers more successful and profitable in their business. This is equally applicable in emerging markets as it is in developed markets.
They are now experiencing a global financial crisis that is starting to affect industry as well. They see this mainly in the automotive sector. At the same time several customer segments are developing very well with strong growth, for example energy, mining, agriculture, fluid power, industrial gearboxes and construction equipment.
Overall the level of growth today is less than what it had been in the last year and earlier this year, therefore they have started a number of actions to address the cost and capital structure in the Group.
SKF is a truly global company with both sales and manufacturing facilities all over the world. What they see in economies like China and India is a fast growth and therefore they are increasing their manufacturing presence in these markets to support the growth. Today they have twelve factories in China and three in India with two more under development that will open within 12-18 months. This manufacturing investment in these countries is primarily to support the fast growth in these countries.
However they are also developing suppliers in these markets to support not only the factories in the country but also to supply the SKF group worldwide. Their sourcing and manufacturing strategy is based on what they call best cost and not low cost. Best cost also takes into account other factors than just labor cost such as closeness to customers, supply base, knowledge, productivity, efficiency and increasingly importantly, the effect on the environment.