Bearings in a test tube would be one way of describing SKF’s extensive collaboration with leading universities and research institutions. The overall goal is to improve understanding of rolling bearings in a way that can lead to better performance in products and real customer applications.
Although SKF has extensive R&D operations of its own, collaborating with universities and academic institutions brings not only resources, talent and unique expertise but also fresh perspectives on complicated issues.
“University cooperation gives us valuable access to research networks and direct links to top international researchers,” explains Dr Kenred Stadler, who is responsible for University Collaboration Management at SKF. “They can contribute with long-term thinking and are objective in their views, and they have the time and the skills to think outside the box, more than we can in-house.”
University cooperation gives us valuable access to research networks and direct links to top international researchers.
Dr Kenred Stadler, responsible for University Collaboration Management at SKF
Industrial-academic cooperation is nothing new to SKF, which has engaged with the academic world for several decades. Today, the company has 13 active project programmes with university technology centres, or UTCs. Imperial College in London, UK, and Luleå University of Technology in northern Sweden are good examples, as is INSA in Lyon, France, where SKF sponsors a chair in tribology.
At these university centres, SKF draws on academic expertise in areas such as tribology, sensor technology and product life cycles. Tribology deals with the relationship between surfaces in motion and their design, lubrication, friction and wear.
While product development is in the hands of SKF’s own departments, universities contribute with modelling, experiments, test rigs and many specific projects aimed at solving problems or expanding the scope of bearings.