SKF’s continued commitment to technology development is important for maintaining and strengthening the company’s technological leadership. In 2015, SKF recorded 520 (646) invention disclosures and successfully registered 461 (488) first filings of patent applications.
Technology research and development
R&D expenditure in 2015, excluding developing IT solutions, was SEK 2, 372 million (2,078), corresponding to 3.1% (2.9) of annual sales. SKF’s R&D spending, in local currencies, rose by 7,6 (8)% in 2015 compared with 2014.
The Group is increasing its activities in the R&D arena by focusing more on new products and services that have a positive impact on the environment. In addition there has been a greater concentration on strengthening core technologies, launching new products, increasing R&D activities in rapidly developing regions and further strengthening links with universities and technical colleges.
SKF Technology Development’s challenges can only be met by people who are skilled, passionate and able to work in multicultural environments, within a global network. One example of a very challenging environment is the Engineering and Research Centre in Nieuwegein (NL), where more than 120 scientists, engineers and technicians, made up of more than 20 nationalities, work together daily with their colleagues around the globe.
Expertise is key to the success for R&D and major efforts have been made in recruiting and developing the right expertise via a global trainee programme for Group Technology Development. The programme develops the new recruits through an extensive training portfolio and rotations abroad to SKF units and factories. Job rotation is individually tailored to prepare the trainees for the specific role they will have at the end of the programme
Global Technical Centres
Global Technical Centres are the backbone of SKF’s global technical footprint. The aim of the centres is to assume a global and regional development role, matching innovation and technical knowledge with local customer requirements.
These Global Technical Centres allow SKF to exploit economies of scale, bringing together expertise with critical mass from different technical areas and product platforms.
Relationships with academic community
SKF collaborates with the academic community and with renowned universities for establishing SKF University Technology Centres (UTCs). These complement SKF’s in-house research, establishing long-term relationship for creating fundamental support and bringing new ideas in technical areas of strategic interest for SKF.
The research programmes at the UTCs are defined to meet the needs of SKF technology developments, so that the results of the work carried out at the UTC is directly integrated into SKF’s R&D programs. SKF has six UTCs: University of Cambridge for Steel technology, Imperial College London, Great Britain for Tribology, Chalmers, Göteborg, Sweden for Sustainability, Luleå, Sweden for Condition Monitoring, Tsinghua, China for Polymers and Singapore for manufacturing technologies. SKF actively involves strategic customers and suppliers in the UTCs, joining forces in areas of common interest. This ability to bridge Academia and Industry in common R&D networks allows SKF to access significant governmental R&D funding, increasing the leverage of R&D investment.