The expected robust demand for construction equipment and machinery is going to generate a concomitant demand for industrial and construction machinery lubricants in India. Akhil Jha, Chief Technology Officer, Shell Lubricants India, explains more on the new trends and product innovations in lubricants.
What are the current technology trends in lubricants?
Technology trends in lubricants for construction and mining equipment are purely dependent on the technology upgradation from OEMs end because of market demand and legislation related to hardware changes. Today, end-users are keen to maximise the existing resources by enhancing efficiency and do more with the existing equipment. Customers are looking to enhance productivity and reduce the total cost of ownership. Energy consumption is a major driver besides component reliability. In this context, Shell is offering a complete end-to-end offering of all range of lubricants for the most challenging applications and clearly demonstrate the benefit to end-users.
At Shell, we believe there are mainly five key drivers in the HDDEO market. The five market drivers are: Reduced emission, Reduced fuel consumption, Increased power output, Extended equipment life, and Extended service intervals. Each market driver has significant influence on lubricant specifications. Even though the off-highway emission norms are a bit slow in implementation with respect to the on-highway, many OEMs including tractor OEMs are already moved to EGR engines. Few OEMs started using the API CJ4 Spec with low SAP technology in HDDEO to meet Euro standards for their export model. The competitive world is asking higher productivity and higher efficiency from the hydraulic systems to improve the bottom line. OEMs like Bosch Rexroth and Eaton Vickers are replying to these demands by new systems that are operating at higher pressures and systems are more compact to meet the energy efficiency demand. Bosch Rexroth had already listed the lubricants which meet most advanced standard of RDE 90245; this standard increases the oil stress factor by 13 times compared to standard oil stress. OEMs are targeting more operation and maintenance (O&M) contracts with large mining and construction groups, which forced them to have a good reliable oil monitoring system for health check of oil and equipment. Shell Lube Analyst services has been well acknowledged by OEMs and end-customers in identifying the issue related to lubrication. We have already demonstrated value at end-customers through LubeAnalyst and Lube Video Check services. We have been also sharing a monthly or quarterly summary through BI Dashboard on oil analysis report, which is becoming a ready reckoner for O&M team to address the failures issue.
In India, many mining sites are remotely located and sending timely samples to the lab is a difficult task. To address this delay in turnaround time for each sample, we are now offering Lube Analyst Lite testing equipment which can be installed at any site and the testing can be handled by anybody as the process is simple and customer will get a report based on the onsite automated analysis. We are also ready with Lube Analyst Sensor, which is going to be the next level of service, where we can monitor the performance of the oil on time. In total value-added services are the key expectations from OEMs and end-customers for ensuring the equipment protection by frequent monitoring support.
With sulphur level in diesel fuel decreasing, what is the role of engine lubricants to increase the lubricity of fuel to save parts from wear and tear?
Ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel is an essential requirement as per emission regulations in many countries with the aim of reducing diesel engine's harmful emissions and improving air quality. As a result, research on the production of ultra-low sulphur diesel has gained enormous interest in the scientific community worldwide. It's established that extraction processes with selective solvents decrease sulphur content in different degrees.
With the adoption of the hydro-desulphurisation (HDS) process, the diesel fuel loses its inherent lubricity. However, a certain amount of lubricity of diesel fuel is needed to save several engine components from wear and failure. Though the loss of lubricity of the diesel fuel is observed with the removal of sulphur, it is mainly due to the loss of nitrogen and oxygen-based polar trace compounds which are also removed in the HDS process. Unrefined biodiesels having a little amount of monoglycerides (<0.8 per cent) and free fatty acids show better lubricity and fuel properties to be used as fuel lubricant. The use of biodegradable fuel lubricant has set away the threat of environment pollution by the diesel additives which are derived chemically. It can be concluded that the use of biodiesel with the diesel fuel can be an appropriate option for effective engine lubrication system where only the fuel provides the required lubricity.
Is there a technology gap in the market to meet the new emission norms?
There is a growing concern globally on CO2 emissions. Emission norms are one of the major external causes for technological changes and new emerging technology coming into the market. Stronger emission norms and demand for fuel efficiency are driving OEMs to keep developing new engine technology at a faster pace. India has also become an export hub for many global players who are demanding higher specification engines and engine oils to meet those specifications. These changing needs put a lot of stress on lubricants and many conventional technology lubricants fail to meet these standards. As industry faces the challenges of lowering cost of production, stringent emission and environmental norms, we expect a more rapid adoption of leading edge lubricants that provide energy efficiency benefits and lower the total cost of ownership. Different changes in the vehicle system should go hand-in-hand in working towards reducing CO2 emissions, hence a co-engineering approach with both lubricants and hardware change will help together as a comprehensive approach towards reduction in CO2 emissions. It is expected that these factors will result in demand for higher quality lubricants, leading the industry towards wider acceptance of synthetic lubricants.
We welcome the government's decision to shift from BS-IV to BS-VI to drive a change in reducing emissions. However, it will be difficult and will require large investments. This is just another example of India's ability to leapfrog technologies. Even though this will be applicable on-highway fleets and off-highway fleets, there is still a lag in the emission standard. We feel stronger legislation would help close this gap considerably. Off-highway emission standard also move up even though there is no clear plan stated from either government or ARAI.
What is the importance of selecting the right lubricant for the right application?
To select the right lubricant for the right application, it is important to understand how equipment operates, ambient conditions and expected output that the equipment needs to achieve to ensure production goals are met consistently. There is no doubt that selection of right viscosity is the most important parameter while there are several additional elements to consider when selecting an appropriate lubricant. These include operating speed (variable or fixed), type of friction (such as sliding or rolling), load and environmental conditions, and industry standards. Depending on the machine, component or application, user should look at different fluid properties. Factors to consider include the load, speed, ambient etc.
What are the emerging technology trends in lubricants?
The trends in the industry are directly linked to the requirements and demands from OEMs. As far as mining, construction and material handling equipment OEMs are concerned, they are now in the process of designing their equipment to get more performance output at the lowest energy consumption. This is where lubricants can play a vital role.
The concept is changing day-by-day and year-after-year. With the change in designs of various equipment, varying climate conditions and the regular upgradation of emission norms, lubricants have undergone a drastic change in formulation and functional parameters. Last but not the least, the thrust on reduced emission, reduced fuel consumption, increased power output, extended equipment life, extended service intervals and overall increase in productivity, has made lubricant experts busy in their jobs to meet the demanding expectations from the user industry.
Across the mining, material handling and construction segments, the innovation and sophistication required in the equipment is immense, which demands more advanced lubricants. The latest products and machinery that we see on the block for the construction sector carry much more sophisticated technology, and thus require more advanced lubricants.
As the industry faces the challenges of improving the lube-for-fuel ratio and lowering the cost of production, a key requirement is to lower the operating costs and total maintenance costs. Hence, we see a more rapid adoption of leading-edge lubricants that provide energy efficiency, productivity benefits and lower the total cost of ownership. In lubricants, oil and grease are classified for their applications. With the growth in industrial revolution along with new technology, operating temperatures have become wider. Our focus in these two segments is to create a strong value proposition through our products and services.
Many OEMs have implemented Telematics in their systems to ensure proper working of their equipment. More and more electronic controlled check points are there in equipment for better reliability which need quick responsive hydraulic oil across operating temperatures, and systems are extremely sensitive to contamination and need better filterability properties and should cop up with extra fine filtration.
Where do you see the market for lubricants in five years?
With the recessionary tide turning around on the back of India's trillion-dollar budget to modernise its infrastructure, there is going to be robust demand for construction equipment and machinery. This is going to generate a concomitant demand for industrial and construction machinery lubricants in India. In a market that was depressed in the last few years, expected demand is good news. However, the rise in demand this time will not just be in volumes but also for new high-end speciality products required to service sophisticated construction machinery. There is also going to be substantial demand for automotive lubricants from the off-highway vehicles' segment. Apart from this OEM market, the MRO segment will also generate significant demand.
In short, the lubricants market in India is getting more lucrative as demand turns robust in the near future. Consequently, global majors are setting shops in India, and the entrenched ones are consolidating their position by expanding their market reach across the country and resorting to branded products to increase their market share. These emerging trends, of intense competition and branding are resulting in better quality at reasonable prices, to the benefit of India's construction sector.
Shell lubricants for construction and mining
Shell India has an entire lubricants portfolio to support mining and construction sector. Through our tailor-made sector approach, we were successful in delivering value to the end-customer with our technologically advanced products and services. Heavy-duty diesel engine oils - Shell Rimula truck and heavy-duty engine oils (Shell Rimula T5E, Shell Rimula R6, Shell Rimula R4 L and Shell Rimula R4): We have generated a couple of off-highway case studies on value delivery of fuel efficiency, where we received excellent results of more than 4 per cent fuel efficiency in JCB, Kobelco excavators and Tata trucks with Shell Rimula T5E 10W30 CI4 Plus oil. We have a few more projects ongoing at various mining sites. We had launched Rimula R4 L last year to meet Volvo requirement for VDS4 and API CJ4 engine oil as there was demand from OEM and end-customer.
Axle and transmission oils - Shell Spirax (Shell Spirax S6 and Spirax S4 CX 30): Shell Spirax oils are designed to help keep transmission components protected so that they can go on working efficiently. For e.g., Shell Spirax S6 AXME and Shell Spirax S6 GXME have special frictional properties and high fluidity that reduce power loss, lower the operating temperature and offer higher mechanical efficiency.
Greases - Shell Gadus (Shell Gadus S3V 460 D2): We have a specialised product suited for the harsh conditions for both the sectors - Gadus S3 V 460 D2. This grease is specialised for Pin/Bush application and can help in reduction in grease consumption by at least 50 per cent with increase in pin/bush life by minimum 50 per cent.
Hydraulic Fluids - Shell Tellus (Shell Tellus S4, Shell Tellus S2MX/VX and Shell Tellus S2M/V): To meet the challenges of a wide range of hydraulic equipment and applications, Shell has designed a portfolio of fluids that enables one to choose a product to best match his needs. It includes extra-long-life synthetic technologies capable of up to four times standard life compared with other oils in the Shell range, to cost-effective, reliable products for less-demanding applications. These exceed all the performance parameters defined by OEM and industrial bodies in terms of wear protection, thermal and oxidation stability. Shell Tellus S2MX is one of the few products approved by Rexroth new specification - RDE 90245. The new Bosch Rexroth test (RDE 90245) evaluates the oil under 13 times higher stress than the previous generation tests. Hence, oil passing this test, demonstrates higher protection to equipment.
Gear Oils - Shell Omala (Shell Omala S2 G and Shell Omala S4 GX): The longer an oil's life, the less fluid maintenance one's equipment requires, so it can continue to operate without interruption.