Moss does not grow on Tom Johnstone or Poul Jeppesen. On Oct. 19, Johnstone, president and CEO of SKF, and Jeppesen, president and CEO of SKF North America, attended the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama to watch Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in the SKF-sponsored No. 2 car.
Two days later, they were at the United Center in Chicago, watching the BlackHawks defeat the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-0.
In between the two sporting events, all they did was open the company’s 28th SKF Solution Factory near Birmingham, Alabama, and break ground for the Global Technical Center—Americas (GTCA), which will include the 29th Solution Factory, in Naperville, Illinois.
The Alabama facility is designed to provide customers with industry knowledge and value-added solutions. With Solution Factory facilities already in Houston and Cleveland this is the third to open in the United States and joins the growing network of five others in North America. “The SKF Solution Factory is another way for us to provide customers with the resources they need to meet machinery performance and operating efficiency goals,” said Jeppesen. “We’re pleased to bring this state-of-the-art facility and its unique portfolio of services to this region.”
The Birmingham Solution Factory, which focuses on pulp and paper, food and beverage, mining and metals industries, offers access to SKF’s technical resources for machine productivity solutions and services, including bearing application support, customized machined sealing solutions, mechanical equipment services, engineering consultancy and remote diagnostics and monitoring. It also includes training courses and seminars.
The GTCA is part of SKF’s plans for a global network of technical centers, including ones built in China in 2013 and in India in 2011. Two more are currently under construction, adjacent to the existing technology and manufacturing process research centers in the Netherlands and Sweden. You can even track the progress of the new GTCA in Naperville at www.skf.com/gtca.
When it opens, it will combine technical resources with knowledge experts in an effort to create a culture of collaboration and innovation. Over the next two years, SKF will recruit a technical staff of 40 employees to work at the facility, which is being built to LEED Gold standards. SKF also is pursuing ISO 50001 for all of its manufacturing facilities.
The GTCA will be an open laboratory for idea generation, leveraging a modular building structure that’s adaptive, open and informal. “A common refrain from even long-standing customers is ‘I didn’t know,’ when they see the full range of SKF offers across all our platforms,” said Walt Delevich, vice president of communications at SKF North America. “This new facility will be an eye-opener for our North American customers and a great opportunity for SKF to put its best technology forward to solve today’s most pressing engineering challenges, like CO2 reduction through better energy and resource efficiency.”
Driving project development and technical recruitment for the GTCA is Cengiz Shevket, director, engineering and emerging segments, renewable energy business unit, at SKF. “I’m confident that this will be a great facility, not only in which to work, but to collaborate through open visits and workshops with customers, our distributors and university researchers,” said Shekvet. The facility will include approximately 130,000 ft2 of space, open workspaces, an exhibit hall, testing capabilities for specialized industries such as aerospace, energy and automotive, training classrooms, a mezzanine viewing balcony, a wellness center and a high-bay workspace with up to 25-ton lift capacity.