Home » Lokesh Agrawal | CTO | Interview of NBC Bearings Powering E-Mobility Sector

Lokesh Agrawal | CTO | Interview of NBC Bearings Powering E-Mobility Sector

NBC is fully prepared to support the auto industry's transition to electrification and stricter emission regulations.

by Aishwarya Saxena

NBC BearingsIndia’s one of the largest manufacturers and exporters of bearings, National Engineering Industries Ltd (NEI) is a part of CK Birla Group and manufacturer of NBC brand of bearings.

Known for its production of 200 Mn bearings annually in over 2300+ variants, NEI provides a wide portfolio of solutions that has its application across automotive, railways, aerospace and industrial segments to serve customers in more than 30 countries.

In a recent interaction with Aishwarya, Dr. Lokesh Agrawal, Chief Technology Officer, National Engineering Industries Ltd. (NBC Bearings) shares his thought on the current landscape of electric mobility.

  • Kindly mention your key offering and portfolio focused on the Electric Mobility space.

NBC provides bearing solutions across all applications in Electric Mobility space. Our offerings focused on the major applications are:

Motor applications –

  • EMB Series high speed Bearings
  • SIB series speed and direction sensor integrated bearings
  • Electric insulated bearings – Ceramic balls or Ceramic coated rings

Transmission –

  • High speed ball and roller bearings
  • Power dense bearings (Higher service life under severe application condition like high load, high contamination, impact loads etc.)
  • Low torque bearings
  • Thin series bearings

Wheel end

  • Unitized taper roller bearings
  • Double row angular contact ball bearings
  • Gen3 type wheel hub bearings
  • Bearings with integrated speed sensor

Steering column

  • Oil impregnated ball cage assembly (full complement type)
  • Polyamide ball cage assembly
  • Thrust bearing races
  • Four point contact bearings
  • Conductive bearings
  • As an automotive components manufacturer, the EV industry is witnessing major demand in the auto sector currently, what makes your e-mobility products superior?

Bearings have gained increased importance with the advent of vehicle electrification, as the complexities in electric vehicle (EV) transmission surpass those of conventional transmissions. We have collaborated closely with both domestic and international EV manufacturers in the 2/3-wheeler, passenger vehicle, and commercial vehicle sectors right from the early stages. This early involvement has given us an advantage and enabled us to create tailored products for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Key requirements for bearings used in electrical applications include:

  • High speed capabilities to drive optimal motor performance.
  • Reduced frictional losses for enhanced efficiency.
  • Compact design for improved energy efficiency.
  • Minimal noise, vibration, and harshness.
  • Electric current insulation.
  • Integration of onboard diagnostics and sensors.

In response to the ever-evolving demands of the automotive industry, we introduced bearings that address various needs such as enhanced reliability, sealing solutions, sensor integration, power-dense solutions, and application-specific customization. These solutions effectively tackle all fundamental challenges.

  • With the switch towards a greener and sustainable auto industry, how is the company eyeing this space?

Bearings play a vital role in various automotive applications, including electric and hybrid vehicles. NBC is fully prepared to support the auto industry’s transition to electrification and stricter emission regulations. In the past, NBC has successfully developed bearings that facilitated the adoption of BSVI norms in the auto industry. Currently, NBC offers a comprehensive product portfolio for hybrid and battery electric vehicles. Our focus is on enhancing energy efficiency through friction reduction, lightweight design, and innovative solutions like sensor integration, advanced sealing techniques, and application-specific designs.

Considering the industry’s experience with the transition from BS4 to BS6 norms and the introduction of Real Driving Emissions (RDE) standards, changes in bearings were necessary to meet compactness requirements, fuel efficiency demands, electrification needs (such as onboard diagnostics), and the shift towards xEVs. Going forward, a similar approach of timely development and adaptation will be followed. Additionally, NBC is actively evaluating material and bearing modifications for upcoming hydrogen fuel cell/ICE powered vehicles.

  • Are your products customizable according to the client’s requirements or has general specifications?

In line with NBC tag line of flexible solution, we approach each inquiry as unique and conduct a comprehensive evaluation based on specific application conditions. Our engineering team partners with customers to define requirements and employs advanced simulation tools in our state-of-the-art testing facility to analyze bearings, ultimately determining the optimal product specifications. While some bearing requirements can be fulfilled with general specifications or existing products from our portfolio, the majority of cases involve customization to meet customer needs. NBC develops approximately 150 new products annually to cater to these customer requirements.

  • Mention your expansion plans and any upcoming projects.

NBC Bearings has undergone significant changes in recent years, encompassing economic, social, and policy aspects, all aimed at enhancing product quality and services to meet stakeholder needs and stay current with the evolving landscape. Anticipating continuous expansion, we project a significant sales increase over the years.

In pursuit of advanced design, testing, and validation capabilities, NBC Bearings is collaborating with renowned research institutes and centers in India and abroad.  NBC is establishing a world-class manufacturing facility with AS9100 and NADCAP certifications for aerospace bearings. To further strengthen our production capabilities, we are expanding our production footprint in Bagru, near Jaipur, over the next four years.

In 2020, we acquired Kinex Bearings in Europe, a strategic move to fortify and diversify our offerings for existing and potential customers, as well as to establish closer proximity to international clientele. Our commitment to expanding our reach and delivering sustainable solutions extends to exploring other merger and acquisition opportunities.

We constantly adapt our processes to identify more agile and intelligent methods of scaling up production, thereby delivering increased value to our clients.

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