Expanding Digital Tools to Meet Customers’ Evolving Needs

It can be overwhelming for the average person to keep up with the latest technology advancements. From artificial intelligence and machine learning to cloud computing and augmented reality, we’re constantly confronted with leaps in digital capabilities and asked to make choices about if, how and when to incorporate them into our lives.

As vice president of technology for Timken, Doug Smith guides these types of decisions for the company every day. While Timken has tracked and tested new technologies for most of its existence, the last few years have seen the pace of digital innovation accelerate dramatically.

The pandemic supercharged that trend. “We expect everything to be at our fingertips now,” he says. “Digital self-service is no longer expected. It’s demanded.”

As Smith eyes the road ahead, he looks forward to developing and launching a range of digital tools and innovative systems that will increase customer access to Timken products and open new pathways for them to engage with the company digitally.

Digital innovation at Timken

To identify new digital value propositions at Timken, Smith’s team begins with a thorough understanding of how digital data is created, managed, transformed and consumed throughout the enterprise.

“We use technology every day, in every corner of the organization, from executing business processes and designing new products to planning production and supply chain activities and automating manufacturing processes,” he says. “We build value by creating new ways of using our digital assets to serve customers better, whether those customers are internal or external.”

Today, you can see the results of digital advancements throughout Timken:

  • Custom software, married to Timken’s vast engineering database, quickly and accurately simulates noise, vibration and harshness parameters to help engineers troubleshoot customer applications or achieve precise performance requirements.
  • Self-service Microsoft Power BI reports, fueled by corporate dataflows, put real-time data and analytics at the fingertips of Timken employees, so they can make faster, higher-quality decisions.
  • Machine tools and shop floor robotics at Timken factories rely on a steady feed of digital shop packets to make sure setup and run conditions deliver the quality products that customers expect.
  • Machine vision systems reach deep into product design databases to inform ‘round-the-clock part inspection tasks, freeing employees to focus on more complex activities.

“Timken products have always stood for quality, dependability and performance. We’re excited to help our customers design that reliability into the applications of tomorrow.”

Doug Smith
Vice President, Technology

While you won’t see many Timken employees sporting virtual reality goggles yet, Smith’s team is exploring related technology that superimposes real-time data, machine parameters, instructions or safety reminders over a worker’s field of vision. The technology could assist with troubleshooting, setup, changeover, training and performance optimization — all of which have the potential to improve productivity and uptime while enhancing safety.

Meeting the demand for digital self-service

Smith says customers have a lot to look forward to, as Timken technical teams prepare for a series of digital self-service product launches later this year. Soon, Timken customers and partners will have broader access to Syber, Timken’s bearing system analysis engine, along with leveled-up bearing calculators and other technical tools.

“Timken products have always stood for quality, dependability and performance,” says Smith. “We’re excited to help our customers design that reliability into the applications of tomorrow.”

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