Ball, roller and plain bearing demand in the United States is projected to expand 3.0 percent per year through 2013 to $10.6 billion, according to a study by the Freedonia Group (www.freedoniagroup.com). Sales increases for ball and roller bearings, including both mounted and unmounted types and associated parts, are expected to outpace those of plain bearings, reaching $8.5 billion in 2013.

Freedonia predicts advances will be supported by sales of high-value, large-diameter bearings as the wind energy and heavy equipment markets expand.Continued, albeit moderating, growth in the production of aerospace equipment and machinery will also support gains, while recovery in motor vehicle production from the low levels of 2008, particularly in heavy truck and bus manufacturing, will also benefit bearing suppliers. Market gains will be dampened, however, as U.S. companies in a variety of bearing-using industries continue to move manufacturing operations to offshore areas where labor costs are lower, according to Freedonia.

The strongest market gains through 2013 will be posted by roller bearings, benefitting from renewed strength in U.S. production of motor vehicles and from sales of advanced, high-value products for applications such as wind turbines and heavy machinery. Demand for mounted bearings and bearing parts will also outperform bearing demand overall.Mounted bearing demand increases will be spurred by original equipment manufacturers’ (OEM) desires to simplify their production processes and reduce future maintenance requirements.

OEM bearing applications, which currently account for 78 percent of all demand, will approximate the performance of maintenance/repair/operations (MRO) applications through 2013.Sales conditions will be particularly strong in the automotive and engine, turbine and power transmission equipment manufacturing markets. MRO bearing demand will be bolstered by growing maintenance expenditures for aerospace equipment and construction machinery, according to Freedonia.

U.S. BEARING DEMAND

(million dollars)

% Annual Growth

Item

2003

2008

2013

03-08

03-08

Bearing Demand

7386

9160

10600

4.4

3.0

Ball

2296

2475

2580

1.5

0.8

Roller

2323

3350

4190

7.6

4.6

Plain

1376

1640

1840

3.6

2.3

Mounted

544

630

740

3.0

3.3

Parts

847

1065

1250

4.7

3.3

© 2009 by The Freedonia Group, Inc.