NSK Deutschland GmbH joined the German Association of Car Part Distributors - GVA on 1 January 2015.
The decision to join the GVA was based on a strategic business decision, explains Martin Farnschläder, Automotive Aftermarket Account Manager: ‘NSK does not want to limit its automotive activities to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM). The company intends to increase its activities in the aftermarket, especially in the market for independent spare parts. First of all, we need to strengthen brand presence and awareness. We hope that membership of the GVA will serve as our first step towards establishing a good partnership with independent car part suppliers.’ Farnschläder also emphasises that the company would like to transfer its extensive, tried and tested OEM experience to the aftermarket. One of the key reasons for developing the ‘new’ aftermarket unit is the fact that the spare parts business is generally comparatively non-cyclical, making it readily plannable. This was clearly illustrated during the automotive industry’s notorious global crisis of 2009: while many suppliers saw their OEM business slump during this time, the aftermarket segment often proved comparatively stable. NSK is currently concentrating primarily on building up its aftermarket activities in Germany and France. Later on, the company also hopes to operate successfully in other countries in the continent out of its German headquarters Ratingen, near Düsseldorf. NSK has been a TecDoc data supplier since last year. TecDoc is an electronic tool utilised by European automotive aftermarket partners to assist in identifying vehicle and model applications. This is an important step towards raising the profile of NSK's product range in the independent car parts wholesale trade.
Every day, each of the company’s 30,000 employees around the world strives to deliver on its pledge of No. 1 in Total Quality. NSK says that it aims to achieve quality leadership in the field of ‘Motion & Control’ in line with its characteristically Japanese mentality of ‘Total Quality’. It also attaches special importance to ensuring that use of its products complies with sustainability considerations. For instance, it is committed to reducing energy consumption and the resulting environmental impact. On top of all this, NSK ensures that its sites around the world fulfil their social responsibility.
The company generates turnover of approximately €6.74 billion a year, with some €900 million of this being produced in Europe. NSK supplies ball bearings, roller bearings, plummer blocks and linear systems for a range of sectors such as the primary industry, the processing industries, the machine-building industry and the consumer goods segment. However, automotive components are its core line of business, accounting for over two thirds of its turnover. In this segment, the company offers wheel bearings, transmission bearings, bearings for engines and ancillary units, electric power steering systems, manually adjustable steering columns, steering gears, electromechanical actuators and – of course – spare parts. NSK primarily manufactures components for cars, but its products can also be found in light commercial vehicles with a total permissible weight of up to 3.5 tonnes. It distributes throughout Europe from its logistics centre in the Dutch city of Tilburg.
Research and development (R & D) is extremely important to NSK, and is another core business area. The company has 14 research centres in nine countries plus three of its own European Technology Centres. More than 2,000 employees work at these facilities, developing and designing products as well as analysing bearings and supporting components in detail. At these centres, NSK tests applications, completes joint development work with steel suppliers and offers technical support for customers, sales partners and manufacturers. It is particularly proud of its research and development achievements in four core technologies: tribology (lubrication), material engineering, analysis technology and mechatronics.
In Europe, NSK has manufacturing facilities in England, Poland and Germany, all of which are ISO-certified. Its successes to date prove that the company is on the right track. As well as having a lot of OEM references in the car industry, NSK supplies gear components to a host of other top names in the spare parts industry. Over the last few years, its efforts have been rewarded with a string of customer awards in Europe. No 1 in Total Quality not only shapes NSK’s R & D activities and production, but also defines the standard to which all parts of the business operate. All areas are subject to strict internal management covering everything from consultancy and training to technical tools.
A visit to the German headquarters in Ratingen offers a glimpse of how much concentration and dedication NSK is ploughing into pursuing its own goals with its 300 employees at the site. The company is the latest in a line of OE suppliers to enter the market for independent spare parts. They all have one thing in common: they are serious about penetrating the Independent Aftermarket (IAM) and see it as a priority. Membership of the GVA is just the first step in a process which is only just beginning, as representatives of the company indicated in our interview.