May 21, 2019
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I strongly believe that the level of technical support we offer really does differentiate us from the competitor. Our engineers and material specialists are only too happy to work with the customer to design in the right solution.
Derek joined GGB 15 years ago as manager of polymer bearing research & development in their technical center, Scotland. Since 2004, he is based in Annecy, France as senior manager of the Technology Group.
What are your main responsibilities as senior manager?
For many years I managed the local R&D team here in Annecy. More recently however, as one of 5 global managers responsible for overseeing ‘Technology Management’ within GGB, I help develop our culture and implement improved processes that ensure effective and innovative product development. In this current role, one of my most recent assignments has been to implement and manage Project Portfolio Management (PPM), a recognized best practice for ensuring the company works on the right projects. Throughout my career with GGB, I have always worked closely with the customer giving technical support, helping to solve problems or introducing new products. This experience proves invaluable in my new role.
How do you identify opportunities for product development?
The PPM process is designed to capture ideas, needs and opportunities from anyone in the organization. However, GGB’s sales engineers, product managers, scientists and application engineers are constantly on the lookout for emerging trends or new product opportunities. We don’t develop products for technology’s sake; there is a market pull that says, “We need this”. However, we do encourage exploration and creativity through our innovation program that supports projects that permit our scientists to think out the box and look at new technologies.
Do you still have direct contact with customers?
I am one of several experienced engineers from the Technology Group who can visit the customer to better understand and help solve their problem. Often this may result in a development partnership where our engineers work closely with their engineers to find solutions that bring value to their application. Working closely with the customer also provides valuable insight into the products we should be developing for the future.
What advantages can GGB offer customers?
Having been so customer focused in the past, visiting and technically supporting them, I strongly believe that the level of technical support we offer really does differentiate us from the competitor. Our engineers and material specialists are only too happy to work with the customer to design in the right solution. This offers a win-win situation as our engineers learn while the customer gets an optimized solution. GGB strives to be a product leader that offers a wide range of bearing materials and products.
You’ve been working in the bearing industry for 15 years. What kind of changes have you seen over your career?
We are seeing more and more customers recognize the benefits of polymer bearings over the traditional metallic bearing. In recent years, I have seen the environment take a higher level of importance in the market and as such, we are more environmentally conscious in our development and have worked hard to develop products and processes that are more environmental friendly.
There is also an ever increasing demand for lower friction, increased wear or erosion resistance or higher load capacity, as customers continually strive to downsize, increase mechanical efficiency or seek longer warranty periods in their machines.
What are the best aspects of working at GGB?
There are several reasons why I have remained with GGB for so long. Firstly, the work is rewarding. I take great satisfaction in contributing to the success of new products. Furthermore, the people are great and fun to work with. There is a real sense of community in GGB. It has been a great place to work, but I am even more excited about the future with all the recent changes aimed at making this company a world class organization such as EnPro’s ‘Dual Bottom line’ initiative, where people development is regarded equally important as revenue.