The ongoing infrastructure development and construction projects will not only change the shape of the infrastructure in India, but also generate good business for the equipment as well as lubricant players in the country. Satyendra Debdas, General Manager - Industrial Oil Sales and Marketing, Apar Industries Ltd, shares more on the industry and the company's plans.
What is the role of lubricants in equipment productivity?
Lubricants act as a blood in case of any equipment. Any deterioration happens will eventually knock down the performance of the machine and hence hamper the productivity. Depend on the applications, we can categorise lubricants as engine oil, hydraulic oil, transmission oil and grease. All these play a significant role in terms of productivity of the equipment, e.g., with long drain interval engine oil, we can expect less machine downtime for maintenance and better filter life; with high viscosity index hydraulic oil, we can expect better delivery efficiency and low maintenance cost for filters as well as seals; with better transmission oil we can expect smooth overall movement of equipment; and finally, with better grease, we can improve the greasing interval for various wheel bearings, bush pins, leaf springs, etc.
With infrastructure construction activities gaining momentum, which are the major projects that can change the equations in infrastructure development in India?
There are four major projects which we feel is going to change the shape of the infra development, i.e., the ongoing national highway and state highway projects to better the transportation connectivity, Sagarmala project to push some of the domestic transportation through sea route, Smart City projects to build better living standards and airport development projects at various smart cities across India. This will not only change the shape of the infrastructure in India, but also generate good business for the equipment as well as lubricant players in the country. We are already working in these segments and fortunate to supply our products for various applications.
What are the product range you offer for these segments?
We have various products to offer in these segments like Power engine Super maxima plus series gives higher drainage interval of 500+ hours, Power Ultimo hydraulic oil can go up to 4,000 hours of uninterrupted usage, Power Transmission Oil can work beyond 1,000+ hours and Power Gem LC2M grease can improve the greasing interval by 4-5 times compared to any general purpose grease. All these products have been tested at clientele site and have been well appreciated by all our clients. Another factor which impact a lot in terms of equipment productivity is the periodic checking of these oils in order to predict the failure. In Apar, we have all modernised testing facilities for all kinds of oils, which definitely play a vital role is terms of giving value proposition to our clients.
What are the new developments in lubricants to meet the demands of equipment uptime?
There is a major push going to happen in the lubricants performance in 2020 when most of the engine manufacturer will shift to BS VI engine with 10 ppm sulphur content in the diesel. Obviously, with low suplhur content in the diesel, most of the engine manufacturers are going to rely heavily on the engine oil properties for smooth operation of their engines. Most of the lubricants supplier will move to CJ4 and CK4 API specification for these engines. We have a strong feeling that the market scenario for engine oil will see a dynamic change after 2020 and there will be only fewer players in the market which can be reliable by the engine manufacturer. The warranty terms will also see a robust change from the OEM manufacturers. We are already ready with new generation engine oil with API CJ4 specification and the product is already under testing at some of the equipment. Similarly, in the case of hydraulic oils, we have come up with high thermal and oxidation stability oils to meet stringent demands of customers. These products are manufactured from Gr II and Gr II+ base oils, which makes them much more robust at the application sites. We have also come out with zinc-free hydraulic oils with a TOST life of 5,000+ hours to better filter performance in hydraulic oil application.
What are the emerging challenges in this industry and what is the way forward in overcoming them?
Since the market has become extremely dynamic with the infrastructure sector opened up more robust way as well as various changes happening in the engine design laid by stringent environmental norms, the lubricant sector is also going through a rapid change in terms of product specification criteria. The engine oil has already seen a change with BS IV engines with Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) device to treat the diesel exhaust and in future, i.e., by 2020 it will see another change with BS VI engine with SCR+DPF device to treat the diesel exhaust. Though API has come out with API CJ4 specification in 2006, the testing of the same product has not taken into effect in India since we are not ready with the new engine design.
Unless the new engine will not be launched in Indian market along with low sulphur fuel, the actual testing of the engine oil in Indian atmospheric condition will not happen. Another challenge put forth by prominent infra customers is timely completion of the contract, which again ask for better supply chain management at the supplier side. Apar is having more than 30 depots including five mother warehouse at Nagpur, Mumbai, Jaipur, Bangalore and Hyderabad, which is helping us to meet the demand of the customer within the shortest possible time.