Global demand for ball, roller and plain bearings is expected to increase 8.5 percent per year through 2014 to $76 billion. Market gains will be supported by ongoing economic growth and improved fixed investment environments in many of the world’s developed countries. In addition, manufacturing output and motor vehicle production will both improve from the performance registered during the 2004-2009 period, as countries around the world rebound from the economic downturn of 2009. Advances in aftermarket sales will be restrained to some degree as improved product designs, better-quality materials and better lubricants lead to longer lasting bearing products. This trend will be counterbalanced by growing demand for more expensive, technologically advanced bearing products, such as custom manufactured, large-diameter bearings used in wind turbines.
Asia/Pacific region to post strongest sales growth
The Asia/Pacific region will post the strongest sales growth in the world through 2014, led by healthy 12.0 percent yearly demand increases in China. Gains will be supported by the country’s ongoing industrialization and growing manufacturing output. China became the world’s largest manufacturer of motor vehicles in 2009, which will certainly provide bearing producers with important new sales opportunities as output continues to climb. China will account for nearly one-half of all additional bearing demand through 2014, and by 2019 the country is forecast to have a bearing market larger than that of North America, Western Europe and Japan combined.
Historically, advances in bearing demand in the developed areas of the US, Western Europe and Japan have been much slower than in the developing world. However, this will not be the case through 2014, as bearing demand in developed countries bounces back following the slump in durables manufacturing that hit between 2007 and 2009. Growth will be supported largely by solid recovery in motor vehicle manufacturing and accelerating growth in durable goods manufacturing output. Furthermore, manufacturers in developed countries are generally more likely to possess the technological expertise to produce high-value, technologically advanced bearing products than developing world suppliers. In addition, the large numbers of bearing-containing equipment in use will help bolster aftermarket bearing demand.
Unmounted roller bearings to record strongest gains
In 2009, unmounted roller bearings surpassed unmounted ball bearings to become the largest segment of the world bearing market in value terms (ball bearings continue to account for the largest share of sales in unit terms). Unmounted roller bearings will also record the strongest gains of any product through 2014, driven by performance advantages and increased output of motor vehicles, construction and mining machinery, conveyors, machine tools and wind turbines. Growth in demand for other types of bearing products -- which include ball bearings, plain bearings, mounted or combined bearings and bearing parts -- will not be far behind the pace expected for roller bearings. The slowest advances through 2014 will be registered by ball bearings, sales of which are still forecast to increase 7.8 percent annually.