The global bearings market is generally seen as the worldwide sales of rolling bearings, comprising ball and roller bearing assemblies of various designs, including mounted bearing units. SKF estimates that the global rolling bearing market’s size in 2016 reached a value of between SEK 340 and 360 billion.
The industrial original equipment bearing markets accounted for almost 40% of world demand and included manufacturers of light and heavy industrial machines and equipment, as well as aerospace, off-highway and railway vehicles. Sales through distributors (industrial distribution and the independent vehicle aftermarket) maintained around 30% of world bearing demand, of which around 25% is related to the vehicle service market and around 75% to the industrial market.
The automotive original equipment bearing markets, including two and fourwheelers, accounted for more than 30%. Europe accounts for 25% of the total world market with Germany alone accounting for almost 10%.
The Americas now represent slightly more than 20% of global demand, of which the USA, Canada and Mexico together account for about 80%. In South America, Brazil is the major market and makes up more than 50% of regional demand. Asia’s share of the world bearing market grew the most year-on-year and accounted for more than 50% compared with less than 30% fifteen years ago. China’s share of the total world bearing market grew heavily to about 30%. Japan’s share of the world bearing market accounts for slightly more than 10%. Other Asian markets with sizeable bearing sales account for about 10%, including India, Thailand, Indonesia, Taiwan and South Korea. The Chinese bearing market, which remains the largest of the emerging markets, is very fragmented, with the main international bearing companies accounting for about one third of the market, while the other two thirds of the market consists of a host of local manufacturers. Some of the largest include: Wafangdian (ZWZ), Luoyang (LYC), Harbin (HRB), Zhejiang Tianma (TMB), Wanxiang Qianchao, and C&U. The Indian bearing market accounts for less than 5% of the world bearing market. The players in that market include international manufacturers and several local manufacturers such as NEI, NRB, ABC and TATA.
SKF is the world leader on the bearings market with other major international companies including the Schaeffler Group, Timken, NSK, NTN, and JTEKT. SKF estimates that the top 6 world bearing manufacturers represent about 60% of the global rolling bearing market, while the group of Chinese bearing companies, including small and larger ones, represents around 20% around the world, with more than 80% of their sales in Asia, less than 10% in Europe and less than 7% in the Americas. The remaining 20% includes many smaller regional and niche bearing competitors.
Radial deep groove ball bearings are the most common rolling bearing type, accounting for almost 30% of world bearing demand. Other major ball bearing types include angular contact ball bearings, self-aligning ball bearings, thrust ball bearings and automotive wheel hub ball bearing units. Roller bearings account for less than half of worldwide rolling bearing sales. Roller bearings are named after the roller shape, such as cylindrical roller bearings, needle roller bearings, tapered roller bearings and spherical roller bearings. All of these are available for loads acting across the shaft (radial bearings) and for loads that are parallel with the shaft (thrust bearings). The largest roller bearing family is the tapered roller bearing, with almost 20% of the world bearing market.