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

Interview Insights:

Rail Analysis: Can you provide more details about how NBC bearings have evolved and grown since its founding in 1946, particularly in terms of production capacity, product range, and global reach?

Mr. Rohit Saboo: Over the years, our company has demonstrated a persistent commitment to excellence, innovation, and national development, aligning our objectives with the philosophy of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat.’ Since our inception, NBC Bearings has undergone a substantial expansion in production capacity.

Our state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities have been continually upgraded, incorporating cutting-edge technology and Industry 4.0 practices. These investments reflect our dedication to staying at the forefront of the industry, ensuring that we can meet the increasing demand for our products with efficiency and Precision.

Our product portfolio has also witnessed significant expansion. This encompasses ball bearings, taper roller bearings, cylindrical roller bearings, spherical roller bearings, needle bearings, large-size bearings, axle boxes, and our latest endeavors in sensor bearings and electric vehicle bearings.

This expansion not only showcases our adaptability but also positions us as a comprehensive solution provider in the bearing industry.

In the year 2015, NBC became the only bearings manufacturing company in the world to win the Deming Grand Prize for Total Quality Management awarded by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE), for achieving distinctive improvement through the application of TQM. Recently, we inaugurated our Global Technology Center (GTC) in Würzburg, Bavaria through the subsidiary NBC Global (Switzerland) for the automotive and industrial segments, which emphasizes our global focus. Additionally, our recent foray into the aerospace and defense industries further highlights our ambition to explore and serve markets beyond our national borders.



Rail Analysis: Given the dynamic nature of the automotive, industrial, railways, and aerospace sectors, how does NBC bearings stay agile and adaptable to changing market demands and emerging trends?

Mr. Rohit Saboo: To stay agile and responsive to changing market demands and emerging trends, we at NBC Bearings employ a multifaceted strategy that encompasses innovation, flexibility, and a proactive market outlook.

NBC Bearings has embarked on a transformative journey in recent years, implementing strategic changes across economic, social, and policy spheres. These initiatives have played a vital role in enhancing the quality of our offerings and services, ensuring we effectively address evolving stakeholder needs and navigate the ever-changing landscape. As a result, our growth trajectory is impressive, with projected revenue more than doubling by 2027.

NBC Bearing is working with several leading research institutes and centers in India and abroad to develop advanced design, testing, and validation capabilities, and is preparing to offer aerospace bearing solutions by establishing a world-class manufacturing facility with AS9100 certifications and the necessary NADCAP certifications. This demonstrates our commitment to aligning with the current market needs.



Rail Analysis: Given the recent collaboration between NEI and FOGTEC, Are there any joint initiatives or research projects planned between NEI and FOGTEC’s products into its existing offerings, and are there plans for customization and adaptation to suit the specific needs of the Indian Railway?

Mr. Rohit Saboo: NBC has collaborated with FOGTEC Fire Protection Pvt. Ltd, to supply the Fire Detection System and Fire Suppression System used in Indian Railways. Under this, NEI will oversee FOGTEC’s product promotion, supply, installation, commissioning, and post-sales service for the Indian Railways. Through this partnership, NEI is diversifying its product portfolio beyond bearings.

As part of its collaboration with FOGTEC, NEI will directly engage with Indian Railways through its dedicated team. This collaboration will further help Indian Railways to enhance the safety and security of its customers while bringing in new, innovative, reliable & global solutions at competitive prices.

This partnership aligns with the Indian Railways’ focus on enhancing safety and security, and NEI’s vast experience, market reach, and customer-centric approach combined with the innovative and reliable products of FOGTEC will support customer expectations.

We are actively engaging with Indian Railways to offer them bespoke solutions suitable for Indian market. Our decades of experience with them gives us an advantage over our peers to fulfil the emerging requirements of Indian Railways.



Rail Analysis: Regarding the indigenization of bearings for Railway rolling stock could you elaborate on the challenges faced and the technological advancements achieved in this process?

Mr. Rohit Saboo: NBC provides tailored solutions to meet the specific requirements of railway applications. Our bearings are meticulously engineered to endure challenging conditions, including harsh environments, shocks, variable loads, and high temperatures.

The railway product range includes axle boxes and various bearing types designed for use on both conventional and new-generation rolling stocks. Our primary focus is to facilitate import substitution through the delivery of cost-effective, high-quality products with improved lead times.

High-Speed Three-Phase Electric Locomotives: NBC offers comprehensive solutions for locomotive bearings, encompassing wheel bearings and axle boxes. These cylindrical roller bearings feature a labyrinth-type sealing arrangement, ideal for high-speed operations with no field lubrication requirements. Additionally, we have developed critical insulated bearings specifically designed for traction motor applications, with the electric insulation coating (ceramic coating) being a pivotal component in the manufacturing process.

LHB Passenger Coaches: For LHB coaches capable of speeds up to 200 kmph, we have developed wheel bearings with a low torque seal design. Freight Wagons: In the realm of freight wagons, NBC stands as a pioneer in Cartridge Taper Roller Bearings (CTRB). Our upgraded Class E CTRB, suitable for a 22.9-ton axle load, and Class K for a 25-ton axle load, equipped with a polyamide cage and low torque labyrinth seal design, has proven successful across Indian Railways. NBC’s CTRB range further includes Class C, Class D, and Class G types of bearings.

Since 1952, NBC has been at the forefront of manufacturing Axle Boxes for railways. Currently, over a million NBC bearings and axle boxes actively serve the Indian Railways. A significant testament to NBC’s design prowess is the development of fully indigenous axle boxes and bearings tailored for the high-speed Rajdhani Locomotive.

Cylindrical roller bearings, integral to both Diesel and Electric locomotives, play a pivotal role in wheel and traction motor applications. These bearings work in conjunction with axle box housing and end fittings, showcasing NBC’s longstanding commitment to quality and innovation in the railway sector.



Rail Analysis: In the context of updating product development and system infrastructure for industry 4.0, what specific technologies or practices has NBC Bearings adopted, and how have these changes improved the efficiency and speed of product development?

Mr. Rohit Saboo: In the pursuit of global competitiveness, innovation stands as the cornerstone of our strategy. NBC Bearings has a cutting-edge Research and Development center in Jaipur, equipped with top-notch infrastructure encompassing design, testing, and in-house validation.

Our dedicated R&D team, consisting of over 1 30 qualified engineers, spearheads research in specialized domains such as advanced materials, processes, product design, tribology and lubrication, virtual simulation, and testing.

Additionally, NBC Bearings have a dedicated department committed to studying and developing optimal material solutions, extending beyond production to encompass product validation, whether conducted in-house or at the customer’s end. Our technological center focuses on key aspects such as product development, application engineering, and manufacturing technologies.

The advent of Industry 4.0 has enabled the firm to transform a traditional brownfield factory into a connected smart factory. This transition involves the deployment of an IoT platform on the shop floor and the implementation of advanced machine learning models on the Edge and Cloud combination.

In our Jaipur plant, our legacy machines have been upgraded and currently connected to give us valuable data, and we aim to extend this momentum to all other factories. NBC Bearings has actively embraced technology, incorporating digital integration backward into its supply chain with a strategic emphasis on change management.



Rail Analysis: Looking ahead, what strategic priorities and initiatives does NBC bearings have for the coming years, and how does the company plan to navigate potential challenges in the rapidly evolving railway landscape?

Mr. Rohit Saboo: The market for Indian Railways is experiencing consistent growth, and NBC is well- prepared to address this surge in demand. Our relentless pursuit of excellence in manufacturing and customer-centric practices remains unwavering.

To accommodate the expanding requirements of the Railway market, we are enhancing our production capacity.Simultaneously, NBC is innovating by developing novel bearing types tailored for contemporary rolling stocks, including Vande Bharat trains and high-power locomotives.

Additionally, we are diversifying our portfolio by venturing into non-bearing sectors such as Track Inspection, lubrication, and Fire Detection & Suppression systems through strategic collaborations with global OEMs.We have also collaborated with Amsted Rail to manufacture seals in India by the brand name ‘NBC Brenco’.

Our manufacturing footprint is expanding in Bagru, near Jaipur, where we plan to establish new lines for bearing production over the next four years, adopting agile and intelligent approaches to ramp up production and deliver value to our customers.

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