The development and adoption of new bearing technologies in mature markets and increasing use of more sophisticated bearings in developing countries will be among the key drivers of growth in the $78 billion global bearings market through 2025, finds a new Freedonia Group analysis:
- While bearings are considered a mature technology, important advances continue to be made in product design, particularly in areas that improve performance and extend lifespan, or complement developments in key manufacturing sectors.
- R&D in the industry also focuses on development of application-specific bearings and bearings made of advanced materials that outperform conventional counterparts.
Smart bearings enter the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
Many leading producers are utilizing the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to manufacture so-called “smart bearings”, which can provide predictive maintenance in aerospace and defense, wind turbine, railway, automotive, and other applications with challenging requirements. For example:
- SKF offers bearings for several applications (e.g., wind turbines, rail) that feature its innovative Insight system that offers operators detailed information about bearing health, helping to improve performance and extend bearing life.
- SKF’s bearing contains an advanced sensor (that is self-powered and wireless) that transmits information about bearing health through the internet, helping to reduce risk of severe damage or bearing failure.
- Among the variables monitored by SKF’s Insight system are vibration, load, temperature, and lubrication condition. It also offers warning about dangerous operating conditions.
Developments in global manufacturing sectors steer innovation
Developments in the global manufacturing sector have a profound impact on R&D activity in the bearings industry. For example:
- Global production of hybrid and electric vehicles (HEVs) is expected to rise significantly through 2025, resulting in surging demand for bearings that promote electrical grounding.
- Similarly, surging use of robots in the automotive, electronic, pharmaceutical, and aerospace industries is driving development of specialty bearings for robotics applications, such as high-precision miniature bearings and thin-section bearings.
Bearings are also seeing increased used in other challenging environments and applications that require bearings with highly specific properties that allow them to operate for an extended period, as replacement can be an issue. Such environments include:
- corrosive environments
- both high and cryogenic temperatures
- nonmagnetic environments
- semiconductor manufacturing
- water treatment applications
Want to learn more?
Global Bearings is now available from the Freedonia Group. This study analyzes the global bearing industry by product, market, and region. Historical data (2010, 2015, 2020) and forecasts for 2025 and 2030 are provided for shipments, demand, and net exports of bearings in current US dollars at the manufacturers’ level.
Bearing products include:
- unmounted ball bearings
- unmounted roller bearings (tapered, spherical, needle, cylindrical)
- unmounted plain bearings (journal; spherical; thrust and other plain bearings)
- mounted and combined ball/roller bearings (e.g., flange, hanger, pillow block, take-up)
- separately sold bearing parts (including balls, rollers, cages, cups, rings, housing closures, seals, shields, spacers)
Bearing markets include:
- motor vehicles (e.g., automobiles; light, medium, and heavy trucks; recreational vehicles; mini-buses and shuttles; all-terrain vehicles; motor coaches and transit buses; vans)
- aerospace (e.g., airplanes, drones, helicopters, rockets, satellites, space vehicles)
- motorcycles, including internal combustion engine and electric moped, motorcycles, and scooters
- other markets (e.g., appliances; bicycles; boats, ships, and other marine equipment; electronics and electrical equipment; instruments; medical products; military hardware; railway equipment; sports equipment; wind turbines)