MechChem Africa

SKF South Africa MD Mahdi Sebti explains his company’s two new value propositions: Products and Rotating Equipment Performance (REP).

Born in Morocco, Sebti moved to the US when he was 12 years old where, after completing high school, he en- rolled at Michigan State University to study mechanical engineering.

SKF Enlight QuickCollect Rotation for life“I joined SKF in 2001. I was 19 at the time and started out as an applications engineer in the automotive sector. Then SKF landed a $500-million project with GM and I went over to project management, launching the wheel hub manufacturing lines for GM’s SUVs,” Sebti tells MechChem Africa.

“When my boss was moved to Europe to run the automotive global engineering department, I moved with him to manage the Renault and Nissan accounts, first to Turin and then to Paris for three years,” he adds. By then, the renewable energy sector was beginning to boom, so Sebti returned to the US to start developing SKF’s emerging renew- able energy product lines and market – wind, wave, tidal and solar.

“I then came to manage the North, West, and Central Africa region alongside the French territories and Indian Ocean, initially from Paris but I soon moved back to Morocco, where we have established a local platform to service the region. Morocco has a 180 MW solar trough concentrated solar power (CSP) plant and it is also currently installing a 200 MW plant, which both have solar tracking systems. By 2022, up to 2 000 MW of renewable energy will be installed there,” says Mahdi. After six years in Morocco managing SKF’s business North, West, and Central Africa region alongside the French territories and Indian Ocean, Mahdi Sebti was additionally appointed managing director of SKF in South Africa.

Two value propositions

“SKF has long found itself being pinched between two easily distinguished but uniquely different customers. On the one hand, we see a discerning set of customers who seek to maximise the performance of their critical equipment. These customers understand the importance of reliability, high availability, efficiency and extended service life. They demand tailored engineering solutions that use the best possible components available.

“On the other hand, though, we have customers who simply want a bearing or component at the lowest possible price to solve an immediate problem,” Sebti explains. “These customers simply want a correctly specified, cost-effective product delivered to the right place, at the right time,” he says.

In response to this ”reality” SKF has come up with two different value propositions to enable its customers to be served in the most appropriate way.

For those looking to meet component specific needs, SKF has introduced its ‘Products value proposition’, which focuses on supplying the right product at the right cost at the right time, at the right place. “We provide thousands of products and related technologies to OEM and aftermarket customers around the world, in every major industry for every phase of an asset’s lifecycle. These products have all been developed using a thorough understanding of rotating equipment and they are readily available, competitively priced and, typically, interchangeable with components that have been in operation for many years,” Sebti points out.

SKF has long been known, however, for its unquestionable quality and high-reliability solutions that are purposely selected, designed and combined to ensure that critical machines perform at their optimal level. “When choosing such an equipment-specific solution, the price and the brand are of secondary importance to maximising reliability. This is where our second value proposition comes in, which we call REP: Rotating Equipment Performance,” he continues.

Sebti tells the story of how the REP idea came about: “SKF was called in to look at issues on a mine’s conveyor systems. The discussions took two distinct directions, price and technical merit. In response, our CEO decided not to sell the bearings at all. Instead, he decided to sell rotation to the mine.

“He offered to install SKF bearings into the conveyor systems at no cost, maintain them for free and then charge a fee directly linked to material output at the end of the conveyor line.

“If a competitor bearing lasts 1 000 hours and we are con dent ours will last 4 000 hours then, instead of trying to convince the operator of the true value of our solutions, we break the payment down based on output rotation and/or uptime. If we deliver, SKF gets paid the true value, but if we don’t, the operator pays less, so he will not have paid a premium for no reason.

“That was the starting point for REP and we are now offering these performance services for conveyor systems, mills, wind turbines, and much more,” Sebti reveals.

As well as incorporating the best possible component solutions into critical equipment, REP also involves maintenance and service packages. “Within SKF’s REP offering are two service programmes: SKF Premium and Rotation for Life …read more.

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