US demand to rise 4.4% annually through 2017

Ball, roller, and plain bearing demand in the US is forecast to increase 4.4 percent per year to $12.9 billion in 2017. This will be a notable improvement from the growth registered during the 2007 to 2012 period. Market advances will be supported by improved conditions in motor vehicle manufacturing, the largest market for bearings. The trend toward “insourcing” US durable goods manufacturing will create opportunities in a variety of markets.

Engine, turbine & power transmission market to grow the fastest

The engine, turbine, and power transmission equipment market will experience the fastest growth, bolstered by continued growth in the wind energy segment. The automotive market will not be far behind, outpacing overall bearing demand gains. Bearing manufacturers will benefit from particularly strong growth in heavy truck and bus production, as these vehicles utilize more bearings (both in unit and dollar terms) than passenger cars.

Roller bearings to offer best growth opportunities

Roller bearing demand is expected to continue to outpace other product types, supported by sales of higher value, technologically advanced bearings. Roller bearings will continue to be the largest product segment, comprising over 40 percent of demand in 2017.

OEM bearing applications to outpace MRO uses

Demand for bearings in OEM applications will outpace the industry average, due to ongoing growth in US durable goods output. Many durable goods manufacturers are building or upgrading production facilities in the US, boosting demand for components such as bearings. Increased production of machinery will stimulate gains, since these industries are heavy users of more advanced, high value bearing products.

Bearing shipments from US plants to track demand

Bearing shipments from US plants are forecast to increase 4.3 percent annually to $12 billion in 2017, approximating demand growth. Industry output will be stimulated by growth in several key domestic bearing-using industries (e.g., motor vehicles, machinery) and by rising demand in a number of export markets. However, intense competition from bearing suppliers in lower cost countries is expected to hold back price increases. Both imports and exports will post steady gains through 2017, and the US will remain a net importer.

Company Profiles

Profiles US industry participants such as JTEKT, NSK, NTN, Schaeffler, SKF, STK, and Timken

Additional Information

This study analyzes supply of and demand for bearings in the United States. The following types of products are included: unmounted ball (precision and nonprecision radial, thrust and other), roller (cylindrical, needle, spherical, tapered, and other), and plain (journal, spherical, and other) bearings; mounted bearings; and bearing parts (balls, rollers, cages, cups, rings, etc.). The major original equipment manufacturing markets for bearings are motor vehicles; machinery; aerospace equipment; engines, turbines, and power transmission equipment; construction, mining, and oilfield machinery; and farm and garden machinery. Leading bearing aftermarkets include industrial (construction, manufacturing, mining, and utilities) maintenance/repair/operations, services (such as motor vehicle and other transportation equipment repair), and the government sector.

Because of the structure of the bearing industry, the statistics presented in this study include a certain amount of double- and triple-counting of bearing product sales. For example, cages manufactured by one company and balls made by another firm might be sold to a third enterprise, which uses these and other components fabricated internally to produce unmounted ball bearings. These ball bearings might then be sold to a fourth company, which uses them and housings purchased from a fifth firm to assemble mounted ball bearing units, which are then sold to end users. Each of the business transactions by these five enterprises is reported as a bearing product sale. As a result, final sales to bearing users are somewhat different in dollar terms than the figures presented in this report.

Excluded from the scope of the study are flexure, fluid, magnetic, and other types of bearing products, although these are discussed for their potential impact on bearing demand. Also excluded are related items like adaptor and withdrawal sleeves, lock nuts and washers, lubricators, and retaining plates.