Sahin Engine Bearings which is one of the pioneers in the automotive spare parts industry, began to produce its own raw material which is used in the production of main bearings, con-rod bearings, thrustwashers and bushes. Besides, many projects were completed in the recent years. Erol Aysu, who is the Chairman of the Board of Sahin Engine Bearings gave general information about the company at the raw materials facility in Izmir.
Q: What are your products and which industries are they used in? Could you give information about area of activity of your company, your manufacturing plants and your capacity?
A: Our product range involves engine bearings related to the vehicles used generally in the Automotive industry, National Defense Industry, State Railway Carrier, Ship Building and construction sector. Cast engine bearings, steel coated thin wall engine bearings, steel coated thick wall engine bearings, flanged bearings, thrust washers, cam shaft bearings and bushes are products in our field of activity. Our engine bearing product plant is in Cayırova, Gebze. Our new raw material plant is set up in Izmir. Currently, Sahin Engine Bearings has 24-27 million pieces engine bearing capacity per year (main and con-rod bearings) in 3 shifts and is capable of designing its own machines and equipment.
Q: What is your approach to quality as a company producing a technical product in the automotive spare parts industry?
A: Referring to our quality approach, we of course carry the major certificates related with our line of business which include ISO/TS 1649, ISO 14001 and ISO 9001. However, our perception of quality goes beyond the quality department and has become a part our management policy and our day to day operations.
The product that we produce is one of the most sensitive parts on the engine. We must carry out production in the 4-6 micron tolerances. Hence, the quality is an indispensable element for us. We made an extra effort to establish a quality philosophy in all our departments and to become a company with corporate identity. The Board of Directors has made it all units goal to work towards achieving "Zero Defect" product. Intensive effort is needed to review, to correct and to achieve the corrected results, in all processes, raw material input, all production units and packaging. As you know, one of the most important factors in order to achieve high quality products is to procure quality raw material. As an ultimate solution, we decided to produce the raw material ourselves that had to be supplied from abroad until now. This is an important indicator that shows how much we are willing to improve and maintain a high quality level. Our claim and our hearts are to take place within the first 5 companies that produce the top quality engine bearing in the world in the next 10 years.
Q: Can you give us some information about your export activities? Is there a plan to open up new markets?
A: With globalization, it is our goal to expand to all markets around the world. So far, our products are sold in nearly 50 countries. Our biggest goal is to enter the markets that we didn't enter before in the next five to ten years, to strengthen the brand recognition of Sahin Engine Bearings in these markets and to present brand reliability to them too. Our aim is to increase the level of exports to 50% of total sales.
Q: What kind of projects have you implemented in the last 4-5 years? What are the short and medium term goals and projects of your company and what is your perspective on R&D activities?
A: As a result of restructuring and development activities that we have carried out since 2002, I can list the important developments that took place as follows; The establishment of the R&D Directorate, designing and manufacturing of our own machines by our know-how, development of the bearing testing unit, renovation of the flanged bearing line, upgrade and automation of the plating unit, foundation of a plating lab to test and add new plating recipes and the establishment of our own raw material plant.
Our short term goals are to complete the steel coated thick -wall engine bearing production line machines, to establish a new modernized casting line, to set up a bush line that is highly automated, to build bimetal aluminum raw material plant, to get the quality certificate of 18001 Occupational Health and Safety and to become an original designer company and add it to our ISO/TS 1649 certificate. This last project is more important than all else and it excites me the most. With the finalization of this project, we will be able to design all kinds of engine bearings with the machines we design and the raw material we produce and we will be able to supply bearings to all engine producers in the world.
Our studies continue in our R&D Department, to research different kinds of plating that are required for new type of engines. Besides, we added to our time plan the research of Polimer Based Coating and Sputter Coating applied on High-Tech engines. More importantly, we started the works for lead-free sinter raw material and lead free coating.
In our philosophy, R&D is indispensable for industrial corporations. R&D studies that we began as a little unit, converted to the R&D Directorate that we have today. The raw material used in the production of steel coated thin wall engine bearings is obtained from bimetal products. Depending on the requirements of the engine, these raw materials differ such as bimetal bronze; cast bronze raw materials and aluminum bimetal. As there is no raw material supplier in Turkey for the production of Engine Bearings, for a long time we had to import all required raw material from abroad. For this reason we had to plan our production programs 5 or 6 months before production. As Sahin Engine Bearings, to shorten the raw material supply period, to adapt more quickly to changes in demand and to decrease the production costs, we decided to activate our own raw material plant. In these regards, we launched a bimetal bronze raw material plant and we started test productions. In our new plant, firstly Lead Copper raw material is going to be produced; afterwards production of Steel Aluminum raw material is going to be started.
Q: What is the strategy that is followed by Sahin in terms of counterfeit goods?
A: As is known, the complaints related to imitated products is a big issue for the automotive industry all over the world. Turkey is greatly affected too because it is one of the most important markets in the world about engine reconditioning. Counterfeit is a crime in accordance with international and local regulations and there are major sanctions. Nevertheless, the use of these products continues. The technical problems that an imitated technical part will create, will come back to haunt the consumer as high repair and maintenance costs or it can be large enough to threaten the safety of life.
As a 57 years old company, our products have been imitated for years. We make traceability markings on the product so that it is harder to imitate and so that we can follow-up on the production dates of the part. In an effort to further enhance this; our latest project is laser coding which will be applied directly on the bearings. In this way, our products will be absolutely separated from its imitations.
Q: What is your perspective on after-sales services?
A: Our target market is generally engine builders and service shops because we produce a highly technical piece of product. For many years, we have been in very good relations with each of these two groups in Turkey. From time to time, we carry out trainings and seminars for the use of our products.
We decided that the unit that we describe as after-sales services will spare more time to visit related companies, will determine the complaints originating from the user or environmental conditions. So as to inform both the users and the repairman and services, we began to publish bulletins and technical magazines. We decided to help the community with informative brochures in order to decrease the user mistakes originating from the product sensitivity. Due to the important reasons explained above, we place special importance on our after-sales services unit. Because now, the most important value which is accepted all over the world is the customer satisfaction. With our after-sales service team, we will analyze the engine defects we are going to enhance our solution oriented approach.
Q: Can you tell us about your sales and marketing organization?
A: Our Marketing Directorate consists of Domestic Market, Export and After-Sales Service Departments. Our domestic customers consist of OEM Companies, OES Companies and Dealers. Besides, we have sales to government agencies via tenders too. We have studies for diffrent customer groups in the export department. In the last years, engine builders, service shops and retailers who are the end users of our product, increased in importance. In 2012, our After-Sales Organization was completely renewed to establish closer relationships with these firms. All our Sales and Marketing functions are conducted from our Marketing and Sales Office which is in Kavacık, where we work as a team of 11 members.