Modest bearing demand growth in Canada projectedWritten by Mike Edwards Tuesday, 16 October 2012 10:58
The motor vehicle and machinery markets accounted for over 70% of all global bearing demand in 2011. However, sales of bearings used in aerospace and other markets will rise faster, boosted by increased output of aircraft, rail equipment, motorcycles, electronic devices, and medical equipment in developing nations, as well as by more moderate gains in these same markets in the rest of the world.
These and other trends are presented in World Bearings, a new study from The Freedonia Group, Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.
While faster than the 2006-2011 period in Canada, advances in bearing sales here will be the slowest in the region. Increasing production of machinery – combined with a rising number of motor vehicles in use – will drive bearing sales. A number of variables will temper gains going forward.
Prices for raw materials are expected to moderate, and buyers are switching to longer life bearings, which will slow replacement rates. Further, overall motor vehicle output in Canada is expected to decline while the aerospace manufacturing industry faces increasing competition from around the world.
Shipments of bearings from Canadian suppliers are forecast to increase 1.4% per year to US$600 million in 2016, continuing to lag domestic demand. The trade deficit will increase to the equivalent of 56% of demand in 2016; up from 52% in 2011.
Very little investment in new bearing manufacturing capacity is expected in the 2011-2016 period in Canada, and some firms have already announced plans to shut down excess capacity. For example, Timken’s St. Thomas plant is slated to close in 2013.
Export markets are important to many Canadian bearing manufacturers, as their products are used primarily in the automotive, machinery, aerospace, and shipbuilding industries. For instance, FAG (Schaeffler) manufactures precision aerospace bearings in Stratford, while Thordon provides propeller shaft bearings to navies across the world.
The majority of Canada’s bearing manufacturing output is produced by foreign firms such as NSK, NTN, Schaeffler (via FAG), SKF and Timken. Locally based bearing manufacturers include Anson Industrial Manufacturing, DRIE-D Americas, Igus, Kilian, Norwest Precision and Thordon Bearings.
Elsewhere, the Asia/Pacific region will post the fastest gains of any region between 2011 and 2016 – climbing an average of 10% per year to US$54 billion in bearing sales and accounting for more than half of the world total. Demand in China will rise fastest among the major markets in the region, stimulated by rapidly expanding motor vehicle and machinery production, combined with a strong aftermarket in industrial equipment and motor vehicle repair.
In 2016, bearing sales to customers in China will account for one-third of the world total, and by 2021 the market will exceed those in North America and Western Europe combined.
Demand for bearings in Japan, the nations of Western Europe, and the US – the largest mature markets – will expand faster than it did during the 2006-2011 period. In most of these countries, manufacturing activity – especially motor vehicle output – plummeted between 2007 and 2009, before strengthening in 2010 and 2011.
Bearing demand followed the same pattern, falling between 2007 and 2009 before turning upward in 2010 and 2011. As manufacturing output continues to recover, gains in bearing demand will be well above those posted during the 2001-2011 period, due partially to the modest levels of sales in 2011.
Growing needs for industrial products and a variety of durable goods in the developing world will aid in the rapid acceleration of bearing sales to original equipment manufacturers operating in Japan, North America and Western Europe.
Editorial Director: Ryerson Polytechnical Institute electronic engineering technologist with over a decade of manufacturing experience and 20-plus years in technical publishing, is also trained in hydraulics, electro-pneumatics, bearings, mechanical CAD software, sensors, motor drives and electric motors.Website: www.dpncanada.com