Q1: What’s the positioning of RKB in the bearing industry?
A1: The RKB Group holds a leading position in delivering premium rolling bearing solutions to empower the global industry.
RKB is headquartered in Switzerland and its origins date back to 1936, when we started as a local bushing maker.
At present, we manufacture a wide assortment of industrial rolling bearings, with a catalogue that boasts over 12.000 part numbers, from miniature ball bearings to standard and application-optimized technological products up to over 2.000 mm outer diameter.
RKB serves a full range of industries all around the world, having developed specific knowledge and expertise in each of them, and operating one of the largest stocks in Europe.
Besides product availability, RKB also offers a wide array of technical services to support customers over the entire life cycle of their assets, from early consulting projects to after-sales maintenance.
Unlike the other major brands, that adopt a global top-down approach and cover every inch of a territory, RKB is more customer-based and segment-oriented. This bottom-up style of RKB is based on focused actions and delivers equivalent and comparable results for the customer.
Q2: What are the most important markets for RKB?
A2: From a geographical point of view, Europe is RKB’s main market. Within Europe, Italy, followed by Germany, France and Spain, play the most important role.
In the last two decades, we recorded a very positive and organic sales trend in America (North, Central and Latin), middle East, Africa, CIS and Asia-Pacific.
In terms of segments, the most relevant markets for RKB are represented by the following industries:
- mines and mineral
- power transmission
Other significant sectors for RKB are:
- marine and shipyard
- pulp and paper, converting and printing
- traditional and renewable energy
- electric motors
- fluid power
- chemical, plastics and rubber
Q3: Is RKB able to supply its bearings worldwide?
A3: RKB believes that stock availability is a crucial function for the consistency, market presence and brand awareness of a world-class bearing manufacturer. For this reason, we can rely on a network of modern hubs and local branches in the world’s most strategic areas.
We operate in over 50 countries and a strong logistics organization is strictly necessary to efficiently serve the global market.
RKB stock strategy also features a special form of consignment stock to ease the customer’s financial position and ensure availability of requisite spare parts based on a partnership approach.
Q4: What’s the origin of RKB bearings?
A4: The topic of origin is a quite complex issue from a legal and customs point of view.
RKB is headquartered in Switzerland and therefore follows the Swiss regulations to determine the country of origin of its products.
Most of our bearings can be considered of “Swiss origin” according to the criterion B of the applicable Swiss laws. This criterion implies that more than 50% of the costs to produce the bearings are generated in Switzerland. If this condition is not satisfied, the origin must be considered as “non preferential” (criterion E).
Beyond these technical aspects, the important thing is that our bearings are all made to the same specifications and always within our properties and under our control and authority, irrespective the geographical location of the plant.
To achieve the optimization of resource allocation, all the global bearing makers, including RKB, have processing plants also in China. These plants exclusively produce for us, respecting the high-quality European standards we impose, and the best practices developed in the bearing industry worldwide.
Keep in mind that RKB is a genuine manufacturer and not an intermediary or a trader.
Q5: There are many bearing suppliers and brands on the market, why should we choose RKB?
A5: Like all the major brands do, also RKB meets the fundamental characteristics of a leading bearing maker:
- cutting-edge production technology
- technical know-how and expertise
- full range assortment of top-quality industrial rolling bearings
- corporate stability and tradition
- R&D and well-equipped laboratories for metrological, metallographic and metallurgical analyses
At the same time, the compact size of RKB generates remarkable advantages in terms of:
- flexibility and quick decision-making
- privileged relationship with customers
- capital-intensive stock of products (valued around $120 million)
- comprehensive technical assistance in a single place, from early consulting to RCFA
- excellent value for money
- product liability insurance
Q6: How does RKB stand towards the cheap products, especially when it comes to approaching the price-oriented customers?
A6: RKB business model was not intended to compete with the manufacturers of poor bearings, many of which are merely traders of sub-standard products.
The shortcomings of these cheap manufacturers are especially noticeable in terms of design, raw material, finishing, performance and safety.
Based on our experience, a price-oriented choice is synonymous with a series of hidden additional costs for the customer.
RKB aims to create a long-term relationship with its customers and this can only be achieved by providing high-quality bearings and services over time.
Q7: How are we supposed to convince our technical department to install RKB bearings in high-criticality applications if they don’t have any previous experience with this brand?
A7: RKB has always had a strong focus on the heavy machinery for the steel, mining and power transmission industries. Since our founding, we have constantly worked to provide valuable solutions for the most demanding applications.
We daily cooperate with OEM and MRO customers to design and select the most appropriate technological bearings for their equipment.
Over the decades, RKB has established a long track record of successful cases in many different applications and markets: this is the basis to gain the confidence and trust of skeptical technicians.
RKB is also available to submit its own products to a testing and homologation process by the customer to assure that they meet all the relevant standards. The performance and outcome will be monitored and evaluated together with the client.
Q8: What kind of technical support is RKB able to provide to its customers?
A8: RKB offers to its customers assistance and advisory services at each phase of the asset life cycle, from bearing design and selection to technical recommendations for equipment already in operation.
We can provide support in terms of:
- 2D and 3D bearing design and modeling
- FEM and SAM analysis
- co-engineering and co-design with customer’s technical office
- reverse engineering
- bearing selection
- bearing advanced calculations
- recommendations for lubrication, handling and maintenance
- bearing mounting supervision
- condition monitoring, including visual, shock and vibration analysis
- highly specialized laboratories for technical expertise and RCFA
- training with customer’s maintenance and technical staff
Q9: The RKB brand is not widely present in the market. What actions are you going to take to increase your brand awareness?
A9: The topic of brand awareness and reputation is very important to us, especially in those markets where RKB doesn’t have a long history of being present.
We are strongly committed to investing important resources to increase our brand awareness across the world, in particular through:
- participation in local exhibitions worldwide
- creation of a corporate website full of useful tools and information
- constant production and rollout of paper and digital marketing literature
- distribution of branded gadgets and banners, flags, stickers etc. within the sales network
- international advertising campaigns on digital media and industry magazines
- development of a corporate application for mobiles (iOS and Android) to keep our network up-to-date about the latest news of the Group