Bearing Review – July-Sept 22

Interview with Mr. Jatin Shah, MD, Knowell International, Kolkata – Questionnaire

1.You claim to be one of the largest bearing distributors in India. How do you substantiate this?

I started Knowell International in 1984 with one goal in mind – to provide customers with the right quality bearing solutions at the right price. We are proud to say that over the last 32 years we represent a portfolio of leading global bearing brands that use constant innovation to create long-lasting, quality conscious and efficient bearings. Today, Knowell’s name is synonymous with reliability and quality assurance across the bearing market in India. This reputation has been built on the foundations of quality consistency, dependable customer service and stock availability. At any given time, we have more than 5000 different types of bearing part numbers in our stock. Due to this extensive inventory we are able to service a wide range of OEM customers and MRO customers across different industries pan-India.

2.Which are the brands you represent and what are your differentiated offerings?

We are the sole and exclusive distributors of 4 brands in India – FYH, KHK, IJK and RHB; and authorized distributors for brands like NACHI, NMB, Samick and ISC. We have a full product range, that consists of ball and roller bearings, pillow block units and linear bushings, which makes us a one-stop shop for bearing solutions. Our brands invest heavily in R&D to provide their customer with guaranteed quality and best possible solutions. For example, FYH recently introduced spherical roller bearing units, that can be a replacement for conventional tapered bore spherical roller bearings. Through meticulous design, patented technological enhancements and the use of highest quality of materials available, this heavy duty mounted spherical roller series promises not only to increase bearing life by 300% and provides 360-degree shaft contact but also to work in extra tough conditions (including environments with high content of particulate matter). It’s solutions like these that extend asset life and cut down overall maintenance costs for users.

3.Tell us something about your infrastructure.

Knowell’s biggest asset is its employees – we have a staff strength of 50+ people, including sales engineers and customer service professionals. They are trained to understand the customer’s requirement at a granular level and provide assistance that best benefits the customer. Our sales engineers are present across different regions in India to provide immediate service.Additionally, for localized support, we have an established network of 60 distributors and dealers in major big cities as well as industrial hubs and towns. Our distributors provide local assistance and help Knowell in providing the best hands-on service possible to its clients across India.

4.With such a vast range of products, how do you manage inventory?

Inventory management does play a key role in our business given the type of products we stock. We have a warehouse storage capacity of 2000 sq. mt. which is used for effective storage and easy retrieval of goods. Additionally, given the age we live in it becomes essential to incorporate technology to bring efficiency. So, we also use a comprehensive software to manage our inventory planning, helping us provide JIT delivery to our customers.

5. Are you geared to provide technical support to your clients?

Yes, we have a team trained sales engineers who have been in the business for decades. They are equipped to handle technical queries and provide guidance in choosing the right bearing for your machines. In addition to our team, our principals are also available to provide technical assistance when required.

6. How crucial is service in your business? And what’s your service set-up?

Knowell International’s motto is “Service without Compromise”, which exemplifies that we put great emphasis on providing personalized service to our customers. Our aim is to provide our customers with a solution that helps them grow through cost and operational efficiencies and to build a long-lasting partnership with them. Our sales staff, along with our distribution network are essential in providing immediate service to all our customers across India.

7.What’s your corporate philosophy?

Since our inception, we have always strived to provide the right product to the customer at the right price. Some of the major reasons why our customers come back to us are our standardized pricing policy and our ability to meet their expectation through the service we provide. We truly believe that it is our responsibility to guide customers in the right direction to avoid machine failure due to bearings and we aim to provide them with innovative products to ensure the same.

8.What are the challenges you face in today’s highly competitive environment?

Operating in the Bearing Industry comes with its own set of challenges. First is the competition from inferior quality products. This industry is a crowded space with multiple brands offering different price and quality ranges co-existing. In India, consumers tend to be more price sensitive than quality conscious, sometimes not realizing that the higher quality products help bring long-term cost reduction and longer operational times. Second is the disruptions in supply chain. This problem has aggravated further due to the Covid-19 pandemic, causing unpredictability in delivery time-lines and supply schedules.

9.What are your growth strategies?

India as an economy is at an interesting inflection point where various government initiatives like Make in India are providing a boost to the manufacturing sector and increasing overall industrial activity. We want to effectively position ourselves to ensure that we can support clients through this. We intend to do this by introducing new technologically advanced products by our suppliers, investing heavily in warehousing capabilities and inventory management and improving our supply chain to provide better availability to our customers across different industrial segments. We are always looking to learn, adapt to change and improve wherever we can.

10.What’s the way forward for Knowell?

We look forward to building on everything we have learned in the last 30 years and to finding new ways to service our customers better. As the next generation takes on the mantle, we will be incorporating various strategic and technological changes in order to grow the business both organically and inorganically. However, the one thing we look forward to keeping constant is providing our customers with service without compromise.