Lubricants are a crucial component of achieving significant business value by helping reduce costs and improve equipment productivity. Praveen Nagpal, Chief Technology Officer, Shell Lubricants India, shares more on his company's major activities towards this.
What is the role of lubricants in reducing total cost of ownership of an equipment?
We, at Shell Lubricants define Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) as the total amount spent on industrial equipment, including cost of acquisition and operation over its entire working life, as well as costs of lost production during equipment downtime. Equipment breakdown, fast wear and tear, overheating, corrosion, contamination control and other difficulties in troubleshooting, may seem day-to-day maintenance issues, but they can contribute massively to increased costs, excessive time and manpower investment. Many industrial ventures are battling with the problem of increased TCO that these issues bring. TCO is therefore one of the most significant metrics to be addressed to enhance both efficiency and savings.
Lubricants are a crucial component of achieving significant business value by helping reduce costs and improve equipment productivity. Companies underestimate potential savings from effective equipment lubrication. And, even the best lubricant or grease cannot perform if it is not managed correctly. Unlocking TCO savings hinges not just on selecting the right product but also ensuring that it is managed properly. Hence, effective lubrication management can help deliver value from improved productivity, reductions in lubricant consumption, and lower maintenance costs. Optimising lubrication can have a significant impact on component life, maintenance costs, and unplanned downtime, so can contribute to cost savings far higher than the price of the lubricant itself.
What are the key products and solutions from Shell for construction and mining machinery?
We understand that equipment breakdown at a construction or mining site can severely compromise project schedules and have damaging impacts on businesses. At Shell Lubricants, we appreciate that being competitive in these industries means meeting deadlines, reducing operational costs and maximising equipment availability. Choosing the right lubricants and services related to specific needs can help make a real difference to project bottom lines.
Every machine has diverse, specific and unique demands and we offer various products and solutions catering to individual needs. During a scheduled maintenance visit, a construction company reported wear in its cranes' main-boom-hoist gearboxes. We inspected the gears and recommended using Shell Omala S4 WE gear oil, which offers greater wear protection and extended oil life. In another instance, during a dam construction project, one company had to frequently replace excavator bucket pins and bushes. Our experts assessed the situation and recommended using Shell Gadus S3 V460D 2 grease, which performs well in water-contaminated environments. Similarly, many mining operations have the potential to cut costs by improving maintenance and lubrication practices.
Our primary product range to support construction and mining machinery include:
What are the emerging technology trends in oil and lubricants industry?
Lubricant technology is always driven by the changing needs of customers and OEMs. As the industry faces the challenges of improving energy efficiency and lowering the cost of production, a key requirement is to lower operating costs and total maintenance costs with newer technologies. With a change in customer preferences towards energy-efficient and performance machinery, the oil and lubricants industry is becoming more dynamic and demanding towards newer leapfrogging technologies. According to several research reports and surveys conducted in the past, the top three emerging technology trends in the oil and lubricants industry include a growing usage of synthetic oils, a shift towards thinner oils and a constant need for technological updates.
Also, the government's decision of switching from BS IV emission norms to BS VI is preempting a substantial technological overhaul in lubricants. We are already equipped with product offerings to meet the 2020 emission norms in India. However, considering the Indian OEMs' requirements, we will ensure to use our global expertise and local experience to offer appropriate products meeting the OEM's requirements of BS VI emission norms. Our unique Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) technology for instance, allows us to have the flexibility to achieve fuel economy needs, all along meeting the emission norms.
How are lubricant players preparing themselves to handle new emission levels?
With the Indian government's initiative to accelerate the implementation of the emission norms across cities, the industry players have upped their games and are proactive towards the requisite changes. Several leading car and commercial vehicle manufacturers have already started working on new models compliant with the new policy. This is a huge step in a positive direction as to how fast the Indian auto industry is adapting to the changing norms and policies.
However, for lubricant companies in India, the shift to BS VI and its smooth implementation needs them to be at par in supplying technologically advanced lubricant products when the demand is on a rise. We see lubricant players adopting these with a positive vigour.
The leap from BS IV to BS VI has offered great opportunity for Shell to leverage our strong R&D lineage and patented GTL technology, which gives us a portfolio of emission reducing products that are already in accordance to the new policy norms and hence, gives us the advantage to address the demand surge better.
What customers look for in their lubricants? How are you fulfilling the customer demand?
Achieving optimum benefit from lubrication and maximising equipment uptime is more than just the correct lube application and monitoring. While these are essential, getting the correct lubricant is the first step. However, automotive and industrial lubricants come in many varieties and formulations, and many industries require lubricants that adhere to specific regulations and standards. Some of the customer considerations for the same include general operational requirements like reduction of friction and wear, protection against corrosion, dissipation of heat and sealing. But, depending on the requirement, lubricants may also be expected to provide a host of additional properties.
We, at Shell Lubricants provide a wide variety of lubricants to meet customer needs across a range of applications such as consumer motoring, heavy-duty transport, mining, power generation, general engineering, etc. Additionally, we also provide many other services to enhance customer experiences.
Lastly, we also have a host of offerings to enhance after-sales services for our customers. A key focus of our long-standing partnership with Hyundai is to offer outstanding aftersales experiences to Hyundai customers and foster this strong and trusted association in future times as well. The portfolio of after sales services is quite diverse including used oil condition monitoring on site and off site, Lube Service Experts, Lubes Training, Lubes Management Program, Thermal Imaging and Vibrations monitoring to provide excellent customer experience. For e.g. we have recently used thermal imaging in a mining equipment that helps in identifying the appropriate viscosity of lubricants to improve the performance of equipment. New concepts like Lube Management Program helps customers in optimising their cost of ownership.
Where do you see the industrial lubricants market in the next five years?
The industry is growing in a steady manner and across various sectors. As per a recent report by Global Market Insights, the global lubricants market is expected to collect a revenue of over US$ 74 billion by 2022. In addition, shifting trends towards green products will also influence the share of bio-based lubricants industry noticeably. Some of the key developments that are enhancing the potential of this industry are:
High demand from automotive, industrial machinery and construction are expected to drive industry growth over the next 5-6 years
Increasing demand for lightweight passenger cars and heavy-duty commercial vehicles has fostered global automotive production, which in turn is conducive to the development of lubricants for application in this field
Rapid industrialisation in China, India, Brazil, and Mexico has encouraged applications in industrial machinery maintenance
Rising construction spending in Asia Pacific and Latin America have also been key drivers for the global industry
Shell has a robust portfolio of lubricants, from engine oils to transmission oils to greases that can be used in today's existing technology. We are also continuously working with leading OEMs and industry associations to ensure that we develop the right type of lubrication solutions for whatever engine technologies will be introduced for years to come.