60 second interview: Ian Peverill, Business Team Manager, SKF (U.K.) Limited

Paul Fanning speaks to Ian Peverill, Business Team Manager, Racing Unit, SKF (U.K.) Limited

How did you get into engineering? On finishing school I managed to secure a mechanical engineering apprenticeship at SKF. This was a four year programme exposing me to various engineering roles within SKF. It also included day release to a local university allowing me to obtain a mechanical engineering degree. After four years of training in various SKF departments I became an application engineer providing technical support to a wide range of customers. Twenty years after leaving school and starting with SKF, I'm still here. What does your job involve on a day to day basis? I am responsible for managing a small team of engineers supplying bearings and components to Formula One teams, other race series and niche sports car manufacturers. We are a relatively small unit within SKF overseeing everything from the design of the products, commercial aspects, quality and after sales technical support. We liaise with various SKF factories worldwide that manufacture these products. What is the biggest design driver you see in your industry? With Formula One there is a need to be more environmentally friendly and relevant to road cars. The sport also needs to be sustainable so there is a focus on cost control. Outside of Formula One we are seeing other race series and niche sports car manufacturers needing to reduce CO2 emissions. Innovation is the key to achieving these but we also have to focus on our cost. How do you see the industry changing going forward? Reduction of CO2 is the biggest challenge facing the automotive industry and we don't see this changing in the coming years. Formula One needs to be more relevant to the development of road cars and we expect to see increased focus on hybrid technology development and electric systems. What interesting projects and technologies have you worked on? Each year the majority of powertrain, wheel and suspension components within a Formula One car are redesigned. We are therefore constantly involved with new technologies and innovations. The racing industry is also a valuable test bed for emerging SKF technologies. We use this to drive internal SKF product development; this could be new materials, new manufacturing techniques, or innovative designs. Outside of racing we are working on niche sports cars that are in a preproduction development phase. What are the new technologies that you are excited about and see as being quite revolutionary to the wider world? Within racing we are working on bearings for kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS), turbochargers and hybrid powertrains. There will also be a complete new powertrain for Formula One cars in 2014, where we expect some of the technologies and innovations to be adopted by the automotive industry. Advice to younger engineers just entering the industry? Don't always be rigid in what career path you want to follow within engineering. In your early career try and experience as many different roles as you can. This will build your experience and allow you to specialise in your career later. Stay in a role long enough to achieve something, but not too long that you stop learning and miss new experiences. Don't be afraid to question things and make mistakes; it's how you learn.