Industrial lubricants play a major role in improving the operational efficiency productivity of an equipment. Currently, the demand is for thinner lubricants that provide longer oil drain intervals.
Construction and mining equipment operate under severe weather and geographic conditions. They have to work in a variety of harsh conditions, from heavy loads and high temperatures, to excessive wear, dirt, and water contamination. All these require lubricants of specialised formulation and technologies to reduce the downtime of the equipment and increase efficiency in such conditions, thus reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the equipment.
Of efficiency and productivity
Lubricants play a vital role in increasing equipment productivity and reducing total cost of ownership by reducing downtime and increasing efficiency. High performance lubricants are required to meet the demands of machines working in extreme conditions.
'Companies like ExxonMobil are bringing to India their cutting-edge technologies to meet this requirement,' comments Glen Sharkowicz, Director of Brand Strategy - Commercial marketing, South Asia Pacific, ExxonMobil, Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.
Ravi Chawla, Managing Director, Gulf Oil Lubricants India, elaborates on the importance of lubricants in machinery, 'Lubricants play the role of blood in machinery, by working on aspects like long drain interval oils, reducing downtime and increasing equipment life. This in terms have a positive impact on productivity, equipment availability, spares and consumables cost, manpower cost etc.'
Praveen Nagpal, Chief Technology Officer, Shell Lubricants India, explains the importance of lubrication management, '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.'
The Central Government's policies focusing on infrastructure development have paved way for construction activities in an aggressive way in which a lot of construction equipment are involved. This has opened new avenues of growth for lubricants. According to Chawla, this massive thrust on development of the nation's infrastructure is sure to aid in improving the prospects of the domestic lubricant players. Sharkowicz adds, 'Even as the infrastructure equipment in India is witnessing a new wave of global benchmarking, off-road equipment segments like construction and mining are areas where we expect strong demand in the coming years. This growth can be attributed to green field projects, capacity expansions and embracing of new technology in the key sectors. Today's discerning and quality conscious customer is demanding superior performing, high technology products that deliver smart results and sustainability benefits.'
According to Rajesh Nagar, Managing Director & CEO, GS Caltex India, in the next 7-10 years, there is going to be a huge requirement of technology and machinery in construction and mining activities.
He adds, 'Many traditional and new range of equipment are going to play a major role with new projects opening up. This is going to drive a healthy demand for lubricants in the coming years.'
Meeting the requirements
With the growing requirements of technologically superior lubricants, major players have geared up to develop improved quality products to meet demands. 'We at ExxonMobil aim to develop breakthrough technologies that have a positive impact on society in a manner that is safe for our employees, communities and the environment. Many of our advanced-technology lubricants lower overall traction versus mineral oils, helping to reduce the amount of fuel or energy consumed while operating, and reducing emission levels,' says Sharkowicz.
With the government's super fast move on emission norms, Shell is prepared to meet any requirements that may arise in future. Says Nagpal, '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.'
According to Sharkowicz, the lubricants market in India is robust and expected to grow consistently at a CAGR of 4.64 per cent over the next five years. 'The major factors driving this growth will be the growing industrial sector and the booming construction sector. Going into the future, we will see a new wave of synthetic lubricants, which will differ significantly in composition and performance from conventional lubricants. The new generation of lubricants will continue to raise the bar for key performance criteria, demonstrating the immense value of synthetic lubricants,' he adds.
According to Chawla, the industry has been witnessing increasing demand for process oils, industrial engine oils, and general oils across metalworking, energy, and chemicals manufacturing sectors, which indicates a positive outlook over the coming years, particularly in Eastern European and Asian markets. He observes, 'Flourishing manufacturing landscape in Asia is likely to be a key growth-driving factor for the industry in future. Additionally, high demand for lubricants has also resulted in a shift in global production landscape to the eastern hemisphere, with China and India emerging as major hubs.'
With the kind of improvements and developments happening in lubricants, India is fast becoming a market of higher grade lubricants.
Policies aiding infra growth
Higher spending on infrastructure through various road projects under the Ministry of road and NHAI and the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.
In the Union Budget 2018-19, a sum of Rs 7 trillion was allocated for the construction of national highways.
The Sagarmala program, involving investments of around Rs 8.5 trillion for development of ports and the development of 14 coastal employment zones.
Adoption of new models such as the hybrid annuity model (HAM) to propel investments in the sector.
- Ravi Chawla, Managing Director, Gulf Oil Lubricants India
Key developments enhancing lubricant demand
-Praveen Nagpal, Chief Technology Officer, Shell Lubricants India