Interview with Michael Preinerstorfer, NSK Europe

NSK Europe set to restructure with greater focus on niche markets


Michael Preinerstorfer, the Managing Director of NSK’s European Industrial Business Unit – EIBU, who is also a qualified Engineer, outlines his plans to make NSK the European market leader in 15 to 20 niche markets. In this frank interview he also states what changes lay ahead for customers, employees and products.


Michael Preinerstorfer, Managing Director of NSK’s EIBU: “Our new strategy is ‘select and focus’. We will define 15 to 20 niches in which we are able to deliver special added value to customers on account of our experience and know-how.”

Mr Preinerstorfer, please describe the organisational structure until now?

Our organisation is structured to serve the needs of approximately 50 countries in three core segments: sector/OEM, aftermarket and electrical. In the sector/OEM area we cover applications that include pumps and compressors, wind turbines, machine tools, rail technology, agriculture, mining and the steel industry. Each individual sector is co-ordinated by a sector manager appointed on a regional basis.

Why is there a need to change this structure?

To serve our customers in a more targeted and individual manner we want to further optimise our services. With this in mind we have conceived a new strategy called ‘select and focus’, which will be used to define 15-20 niches markets, such as rolling mills or petrochemicals for example, where we are able to deliver special added value to customers as a result of our experience and know-how. This will allow us to generate considerably more customer-specific solutions, quicker, using our existing standard products, while simultaneously offering the potential to develop a bespoke product strategy for each niche.

Will the structure of your country organisations change?

Yes, these will be replaced by organisations for three regions: central Europe, western Europe and emerging markets. In the future, each region will be serving end customers and dealers separately. I believe that emerging markets, which encompasses eastern Europe, Russia, Turkey, south Asia and Africa, offers particular potential as we already enjoy good market position in these areas.

What will change with respect to the aftermarket area?

This will be divided into two parts: the industrial aftermarket and automotive aftermarket areas. The key account management for industrial aftermarket will be strengthened, and the teams expanded for MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul) and NSK’s AIP – Added Value Programme. With regard to automotive aftermarket, we intend to generate significant sales growth in the coming few years with the introduction of a new marketing concept.

NSK Europe is expanding its AIP with aftermarket accessories. Are these available now?

We already have 15 trained condition monitoring experts in the industrial aftermarket area who are able to support customers in the event of problems. By the end of 2015 we will be offering tools for fitting and removing bearings, along with a laser alignment tool that aids shaft and pulley alignment.

What effect will the new structure have on AIP?

AIP is an established and proven tool that, to date, has seen NSK provide sustainable and successful support to all sectors, allowing customers to save anywhere from €50,000 to more than €1 million a year. Moving forward, consultations with clients will be far more focused as we have the potential to offer our expertise in the 15 to 20 identified niches much more effectively. Of course, AIP will continue in all other areas too.

What changes are planned for OEMs?

Previously, OEM customers were the responsibility of the sector/OEM area, while distribution experts in the aftermarket area looked after MRO. Looking ahead, a dedicated sector manager will ensure uniform support for MRO, OEM and AIP projects. This specialist expert will offer comprehensive knowledge of the sector that will be passed on to the engineering team. As a consequence, we will be able to develop bespoke customer solutions.

How will important customers be served in future?

The plan is to implement a very sector-oriented procedure where an account manager will have responsibility for key customers across national boundaries as a Europe-wide contact – completely underpinning the principle of ‘one face to the customer’.

Will end user training programmes also be expanded?

Yes, 15 training centres are being established in Europe, so that by 2017 NSK will be training 10,000 users per annum. We will be paying particular attention to emerging markets, where there are specific demands for training. Engaging on a practical level with our products helps connect customers even more closely with the NSK brand.

What industrial sectors in Europe offer the most promise for the future?

As a market leader in Europe, NSK already commands a strong market position for wind turbine gearboxes, where our efforts will continue to intensify. There is also potential in the rail technology sector. For instance, NSK leads in the Japanese market and this expertise is being transferred to the European market, where trains capable of speeds up to 320 km/h are currently undergoing field tests at SNCF, the French railway operator. Medical technology also has a bright future, particularly the dental sector, where miniature 3 mm diameter NSK drill bearings can rotate at speeds of up to 40,000 rpm.

You are planning a great deal; when will the new structure be in place?

Everything will be in place by the end of 2015, ready to coincide with our centenary celebrations next year. With the new structure in place, the EIBU will be well positioned to help achieve the goal for 2016 set by NSK President, Norio Otsuka, of generating €7 billion.


Michael Preinerstorfer, who was born in Austria in 1970, studied metallurgy at the University of Leoben, near Graz before commencing work at IMI Group in 1998. In just a few years Mr Preinerstorfer progressed from sales manager to executive. Prior to joining NSK, he was the sole director of IMI Hydronic Engineering Deutschland GmbH (previously TA Heimeier GmbH) in Erwitte, Germany.

About NSK

Established almost 100 years ago, NSK (Nippon Seiko Kabushiki Kaisha) is a Japanese-listed company that has evolved from a regional ball bearing supplier to a roller bearing specialist and automotive supplier with a global market presence. Today, NSK employs more than 31,000 employees in 30 countries. As per March 2015 NSK achieved a turnover of 975 billion Yen. This result has been driven by ever-increasing investment in research & development, enabling the company to continuously improve the quality of its products and services. This investment supports NSK’s objective of “No. 1 in Total Quality”. In addition to a complete rolling bearing portfolio, NSK develops and manufactures precision components and mechatronic products, as well as systems and components for the automotive industry, including wheel bearing units and electric power-steering systems.

In 1963, NSK’s first European subsidiary, Düsseldorf, Germany, was opened and in 1976, the first European production facility in Peterlee, England. Today, NSK Europe supports pan-European sales with production locations in England, Poland and Germany, logistics centres in the Netherlands, Germany and England and technology centres in Germany, England and Poland. In 1990, NSK purchased the UPI Group including the renowned European bearing manufacturer RHP, with its factory in Newark (UK). Additionally, NSK has developed a comprehensive network of authorised sales distributors. NSK Europe is divided into application-based business divisions: Industry rolling bearing technologies & linear and precision technology (EIBU) as well as bearing modules and steering systems for the automotive industry (EABU & ESBU). In this organisation, NSK Europe’s 3,500 employees achieved a turnover of over 1,000 million Euros as per March 2015.

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