Exclusive Interview with Mr. Rohit Saboo, President and CEO, National Engineering Industries Limited

Interview Insights:

Rail Analysis: How has the market performed for your organisation post multiple lockdowns? How do you see the recovery post opening of all sectors as a business opportunity, and can you tell us your strategies you are adopting to address them?

Mr. Rohit Saboo: Indian industries, particularly the automotive industry is eventually working towards its recovery path, although it hasn’t yet reached the heights of the pre-Covid period. Currently, most Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) have started building up inventories looking at an increased demand for vehicles-a positive sign for the entire ecosystem. We are now experiencing stabilisation due to recent developments and government support towards EV industry largely.

We have also started looking for new business prospects in the industrial and rail sectors while concentrating on enhancing our own efficiencies as a plan to de-risk the automobile industry. We aim to increase our exports share from 20 percent to 30 percent over next three years to lower the risk of concentration in the domestic automotive industry. We have recently started working with aerospace companies and have discovered that there is a plenty of room for a local player like us to collaborate with them actively from design to manufacturing.

As a strategy, we focused on investing in enhancing our product quality, expanding employee welfare, and technology to keep ourselves aligned with current industry needs. Based on the constant changing environment, we continue making constant strides towards growing and advancing our range. We acquired Kinex Bearings in Europe in early 2020 to expand and diversify, so that we could offer top-notch products to our current and future customers. We will set up new lines to produce bearings over the next four years, as we continue to grow our manufacturing footprint In Bagru, close to Jaipur. We are always looking for more innovative and agile ways to increase output and provide benefit to our clients.



Rail Analysis: As you know the railway sector is increasing rapidly in terms of new technology, can you share with any new technologies which can be adopted for bearings and other products?

Mr. Rohit Saboo: Since 1952, NBC Bearings has been working with the Indian Railways to create and provide them with customized bearing solutions. We have collaborated with other well-known international brands, including Brenco Inc. (US), to create a product range for railways. Our recent acquisition, Kinex bearings, Is also a supplier to European Railways.

We are working towards bringing new technology related to AINI for onboard condition monitoring of bearing, track, wheel and traction motors. Our selection of bearings for railways comprises axle boxes for locomotives, traction motor bearings, including insulated bearings, cartridge taper roller bearings, and cylindrical roller bearings for railway carriages.

We have also entered a JV with Amsted Seals to manufacture railway bearing seals in India. With installed capacity of two million units per year, we will be supplying products in India as well as to international markets. The JV will be a big step towards supporting the vision of self-reliant India to set up best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure in the country.



Rail Analysis: As you know the government is giving a lot of emphasis on Make in India initiatives so what is the strategy that you are implementing in your products regarding Make in India? Are you also exporting your products to overseas countries?

Mr. Rohit Saboo: Being a pioneer in India, we have always worked relentlessly towards supplying locally made bearings for Industries and railways and ensuring we are able to meet our customers’ needs. We are dedicated to ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and seek to attain self-reliance by utilizing local manufacturing and technology.

We now have five manufacturing plants in India that serve clients not just in our country, but also in more than 30 other countries including Germany, Japan, and China. Our focus has always been to provide domestically developed bearings to local industries by understanding their challenges. Aligned to self-reliance, we plan to leverage the technology through tier-2 local manufacturers also.

We are developing all major bearings indigenously to curb the imports. For Railways, we have developed some specific bearings, which were earlier Imported.

Our joint venture with Amsted Seals to produce railway seals Is already up and running, and It will serve both our domestic and foreign clients needs. We export our products like bearings and seals to several countries.



Rail Analysis: Many new metro and high speed projects are under discussion and execution, what are your future plans to come up with new products to meet the demand and compete with the other manufacturers?

Mr. Rohit Saboo: We are continuously increasing our product portfolio by developing products for new technology being introduced by Indian Railways in mobility segment for both metro and high speed Regional Rapid Transport System (RRTS).

To compete in the global market, innovation is essential. Our state-of-art the R&D facility in Jaipur is furnished with top-notch hardware for designing, testing, and internal validation. We ensure that R&D teams are prepared for various developments that are constantly occurring in the industry. Over 130 trained engineers work as part of our committed R&D team, which focuses on conducting research in specific fields such as new materials and processes, product design, tribology and lubrication, virtual simulation, and testing. This ensures that we are always on top of developments and are in position to develop products for our customers that are sustainable and give an edge to our customers.



Rail Analysis: When we manufacture products, it harms the ecosystem in same way or the other. There is a lot of focus now on ESG and Social Impact of the business and the CSR initiatives of major companies. Which types of measures are you adopting to improve the ecosystem and your contribution to the society?

Mr. Rohit Saboo: Climate change and sustainable development are global challenges. To reduce carbon impact, NBC has gone above and beyond in putting sustainability measures into place. By 2039, we intend to be carbon neutral. We are developing the procedures and organizational framework necessary to fulfill this commitment in collaboration with our suppliers and other stakeholders. Our 75-year-old manufacturing facility in Jaipur has received the Green Factory Platinum Certification. Environmentally friendly products, waste management, reusable packaging, and environmentally friendly structures are some of the strategies that we have implemented to achieve this vision.

On the CSR front, The CK Birla group is steadfastly devoted to making a positive effect that will last. As a member of the organization, NBC Bearings has been supporting the local community through heritage preservation, the upkeep of green spaces, and skill development. We collaborated closely with the local government during the pandemic to supply meals, masks, ventilators, and face shields to frontline personnel. Along with providing beds to the community hearth center, we provided oxygen cylinders and oxygen concentrators to nearby hospitals. In Jaipur, we also assisted SMS Hospital by establishing a PSA oxygen producing facility.



Rail Analysis: Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Mr. Rohit Saboo: The industry is moving quickly toward electric and digital solutions in the future. Digital transformation will play a key role in the sustainability of business and improve resilience to future crises. With this changing environment, we are aiming to Integrate technology into our daily operations to accelerate our growth and improve quality and sustainability for our stakeholders. The company’s move on bolstering digital capabilities is in tandem with its vision to empower customers and enable them with easy access to better, relevant information.

Our supply chain network is also being enhanced by using Industry 4.0. With these initiatives, we only hope to further scale up and take a bigger leap leveraging a stronger digital presence.

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