It’s an exciting week for industry. Market data from the Institute for Supply Management showed that U.S. manufacturing grew at its fastest pace in more than 13 years in September. That’s promising news on a broad scale.
At a more micro level, our data shows that one of the product categories helping to drive that growth is bearings. In fact, over the past eight weeks, sourcing for bearings in the Thomas Network at Thomasnet.com is up seventeen percent over its historical average; it’s up thirty-eight percent in the past three weeks alone.
This increase in activity has not been limited to a specific region, as is sometimes the case in certain product categories. Our data shows the highest concentrations of sourcing activity by buyers in the southern states of Texas and Georgia, out west in California, in the Midwest states of Ohio and Michigan, and in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Ontario.
As all types of bearings are used in everything from fidget spinners to dishwashers to massive wind turbines, there could be many factors driving this trend.
In a recent Thomas Index, we took a look at the rise in automation and robotics throughout the industry. As factories, warehouses and distribution centers automate more and more processes, they’re buying and installing a tremendous amount of machines and equipment – virtually all of which needs precision motion control that requires bearings. According to a study by Research & Markets, this increase includes the demand for precision bearings specifically to reduce noise. As the number of machines in the workplace increases – acoustical noise can easily surpass the decibel limit set by OSHA. For many employers, this makes reducing the noise an immediate requirement for both existing and new machine equipment.
Another emerging market that we see driving demand for bearings is the electric car industry, where new and innovative bearings are being used to do things like reduce in-vehicle noise, and maximize energy efficiency. This is definitely a market to keep an eye on. In addition to category leaders such as Tesla, virtually every major auto manufacturer is involved with this technology.
In fact, just this week, GM announced that it’s moving toward an all-electric future for its automobiles. They’ll be rolling out two new, fully electric models next year, and at least eighteen more by 2023.
We expect this steady upward trend in sourcing for bearings to continue, and we’re not alone. According to the research firm Stratistics MRC, the global bearings market is expected to grow by more than seven percent over the next six years.
Now, as global demand increases, unfortunately the issue of sub-standard, counterfeit bearings in the marketplace will be something that needs to be watched. Illegitimate shops in places like China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have developed the ability to produce counterfeit parts that look virtually indistinguishable from the genuine item – right down to packaging, logos, serial numbers, and even UPCs.
One of our clients, SKF USA, says that even large-sized counterfeit bearings are being discovered in industrial applications, such as manufacturing equipment and large generators.
So clearly, thoroughly vetting your supplier to ensure they’re a legitimate manufacturer, or an authorized distributor, is vital when sourcing bearings. You can do that through the Thomas Network at Thomasnet.com.
Well, that’s what we’re seeing this week.
To stay up to date on the latest sourcing and industry trends from the Thomas Index, subscribe to our newsletter, “Your Industrial Daily.”
And to learn more about the Thomas Index and how it works, click here for an explanatory video.
Thanks for watching!