Enhancing productivity & profitability with cutting edge lubricant technology

Enhancing productivity & profitability with cutting edge lubricant technology

10:28 AM, 29th September 2016
Enhancing productivity & profitability with cutting edge lubricant technology
Shankar Karnik, general manager (industrial), ExxonMobil Lubricants Pvt Ltd.

Shankar Karnik, general manager (industrial), ExxonMobil Lubricants Pvt Ltd with Chemical Today magazine talks at length about the dramatic change that the lubricants industry is undergoing and how the choice of the right lubricant for various applications can make a difference to the overall productivity.

By Debarati Das

Tell us about the growth of the lubricants industry in India?

According to a recent industry statistic published in a leading financial daily, India’s growing economy and emerging middle class continue to contribute to a ro­bust automotive market growth. As a result, India is now the world’s third-largest lubricants market, be­hind America and China. Indian lubricant industry caters to the need of automotive and industrial seg­ments- both constituted in almost equal proportions. The estimated size of the domestic industry is more than $1.67 billion. Industrial lubricants comprise the bigger market segment with power generation, chem­icals, railways, marine, metals and other manufactur­ing leading end-user industries, accounting for nearly 80 percent of industrial lubricant consumptions.

Unlike other major countries where the demand of lubri­cants has witnessed stagnation, the Indian lubricant market has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.6 percent over the last six years. In 2017, it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.5 percent to $7.71 billion.

Which are the various types of businesses that you cater to?

Being the largest publicly traded international oil and gas company, ExxonMobil holds an industry-leading inventory of global oil and gas resources and are the world’s largest refiner, marketer of petroleum products. We apply science and innovation to find better, safer and cleaner ways to deliver the energy the world needs.

  • Our upstream business involves oil and gas explo­ration, development, research, production and gas & power marketing companies
  • Our global chemicals business represents manufac­turing, basic chemicals & intermediates and polymers.
  • Our downstream business includes refining and ­supply, supply and transportation as well as the mar­keting and sales of fuels, lubricants and liquefied nat­ural gas. As part of the value chain, we import base oils, blend lubricant oils, pack and distribute, as well as market Mobil’s range of lubricants, specialities and technical services.
  • With the growing energy demand in the Asia Pa­cific region, our integrated refinery and petrochemical complex in Singapore is ExxonMobil’s largest in the world.

What are the major markets for the company and the market share that you capture?

Over the last 125 years, ExxonMobil has evolved from a regional marketer of kerosene to the largest public­ly traded energy company in the world. Marketed in nearly 200 countries and territories worldwide, Exx­onMobil products stand for performance, innovation and expertise.

We offer a full range of products for applications across passenger vehicles, commercial vehicles, industrial, marine and aviation businesses; catering to both B2C and B2B sectors.

Mobil-branded passenger and commercial vehicle lu­bricants meet or exceed the latest standards of the oil industry and vehicle manufacturers — providing ex­ceptional protection against engine wear, even under some of the most extreme conditions. On the other hand, Mobil industrial lubricants focus on key sectors like energy, manufacturing, metals, process, paper which offer a high growth potential for our brand. As part of industrial lubricant product portfolio, we of­fer technology leading Mobil SHC and Mobil Grease brands that offer Advancing Productivity benefits to our customers in the markets we operate. Further, Mo­bil Industrial Lubricants offer sector based solutions to help our customers achieve operational safety, envi­ronmental protection and enhanced productivity goals that cater to large as well as small and medium enter­prises (SMEs).

Our reach across a geographically large market such as India is well addressed, leveraging a robust distributor network that spreads to the industrial clusters includ­ing some of the remote locations across the country. This, in turn, helps us consistently deliver our commit­ment of high-quality products and application exper­tise to customers across a wide spectrum of geography and sectors.

How is the lubrication technology changing in the Indian automotive industry to meet the global parameters?

Increased urbanisation is one of the largest contrib­utors to change in vehicle design and hence, lubrica­tion technology. From a technology perspective, sus­tainability will continue to drive substantial market change over the next decade. More stringent regulato­ry and environmental standards, as well as air-quality controls, will drive fleet owners to rely on newer engine designs and alternative fuels, such as natural gas. For instance, OEMs have been introducing heavy-duty en­gines that deliver greater fuel economies and offer the potential to reduce emissions, typically through the incorporation of aftermarket treatment devices. Large commercial fleets are also beginning to adopt natural gas vehicles and we see the global trend toward natu­ral-gas engines continuing to grow for many years.

The passenger vehicle segment is operating in a com­petitive environment with the entry of most global major present in the region. ExxonMobil has been present in the market since 1993, with the first Exxon­Mobil Lubricants subsidiary set up here. We are well equipped to cater to the growing needs of the custom­ers through our robust distributor and dealer network, which is supported by our regular training and devel­opment initiatives. Our lubricants and oils have been tried and tested in different environments across the world. The products are used in more than 156 coun­tries and territories around the globe in many differ­ent conditions – hot, cold and tropical. A combination of our technology leadership and regional strengths make us stand apart in a crowded marketplace.

Are the technology and products in the Indian lubricant industry at par with the global standards?

One of the attributes that our customers appreciate most about our lubricants is that they are globally con­sistent. From the outset, we factor in widest possible application and relevance, so what we offer in the mar­ket is a globally standardised product. Products are not formulated for the regions at ExxonMobil, so, if a steel manufacturer wants to use our popular Mobil grease XHP greases for a site in India and a site in China, as well as other parts of the world where their company has operations, it can have the peace of mind to know that our products have global consistency and quality.

Mention some of the trends in the lubricants industry?

Sustainability is a necessary part of meeting the needs of today, and the needs of tomorrow - lubricants and greases play a necessary role in meeting these needs. By minimising downtime (through shutdowns or maintenance), our lubricants help businesses produce their goods and service more efficiently and help to re­duce the energy needed in the various processes.

Also, addressing health and safety concerns have be­come increasingly important in the manufacturing industry, in particular, the food processing sector. Lu­bricating oils and greases are becoming integral to the smooth running of food machinery, mixers and conveyors. Using appropriate food registered machin­ery lubricants can help effective quality management process can help reduce risks such as accidental and/ or routine leakage into or onto the food. The science of tribology is also growing and will become more im­portant in the future. The lubricants of the future have to be more environmentally adapted with a higher lev­el of performance and lower cost of lubrication than commonly used lubricants today.

Discuss the challenges faced by this industry?

As part of the team behind Mobil Industrial Lubricants, we are committed to our investments in research and technology to best address our customers’ needs, see how key trends will impact the industrial landscape, what lubricant technologies and services will be need­ed in the future, and how we can continue to differen­tiate ourselves and offer more value to our customers. Our close partnerships with our customers, including equipment builders, allow us to closely monitor the trend of technology development on the equipment side so that we are ready to deliver the right products.

The economic growth in India is opening up great potential for development of renewable resources. Technological advancement in this sector is essential for meeting the ever increasing energy demand of the country. We have introduced energy-efficient lu­bricants range in the country, which has received ex­tremely good response—whether it is plastic injection moulding machines, gearboxes, bearings or other high output hydraulic packs etc.

We continuously develop and introduce new products in the market when they are ready for commercializa­tion. We have in our portfolio Mobil SHC products– Mobil SHC 600 series, Mobil SHC Gear series and Mobil SHC Gear OH series for off-highway applica­tion. In addition to that, in the greasing line, we have introduced the Mobil SHC Polyrex 462, which is a food grade product, enhanced Mobil SHC range of Ci­bus food grade products which are NSF H1 registered, certified under halal and kosher dietary laws and the manufacturing system has ISO 22000 certification, which is important in the food industry. As a part of the mining offer, there is a specific product series called Mobil XHP Mine Series, which addresses heavily load­ed, slow moving, off-highway equipment requirement. Hence, we have specialised products available for ap­plications which are different from the regular, along with conventional products which cater to the specific industrial requirements of the equipment.

What are the R&D and innovation happening at ExxonMobil?

For more than 100 years, our innovative products have defined lubrication technology throughout the world. As a company, we place enormous emphasis on on-going investment R&D, working side-by-side with the world’s leading OEMs to develop the most effec­tive products and maintenance solutions. We work in partnership with customers to address concerns and drive developments to help them make their opera­tions more efficient and profitable.

Innovation, technological leadership and application expertise lie at the core of our product portfolio of ad­vanced lubricants solutions for companies across all sectors. Our innovations continue today with new ad­vances in “energy efficient” products - creating lubri­cants that not only keep machines at top performance but at the same time help improve energy output and reduce carbon emissions. We have a propriety logo that gives the customer the peace of mind of using an en­ergy efficient product.

What are the environmental hazards faced by various types of lubricants and how is ‘green’ lubricants saving the day?

At ExxonMobil, we consider enhancing energy effi­ciency, a core component of our comprehensive sus­tainability strategy, which we refer to as “Advancing Productivity”. This strategy defines how we apply our lubricant technologies, engineering services and ap­plication expertise to help companies enhance safety, achieve their environmental care-related goals and maximise productivity.

  • Safety –Innovations in product formulations and services can deliver long lubricant life, which can help minimise employee-equipment interaction and miti­gate the potential risk of employee injury
  • Environmental Care – With a commitment to min­imize environmental impact, we develop technologi­cally advanced products and services to help optimise oil drain intervals; reduce worn equipment disposal and maintenance-related waste and energy efficiency benefits. Many of our advanced-technology lubricants lower overall traction versus mineral oils, helping re­duce the amount of fuel or energy consumed while op­erating, and have potential to reduce energy costs and associated emission
  • Productivity –Our products and services are de­signed to protect equipment’s lubricated components from wear and corrosion, which can help minimise unexpected downtime and maximise uptime, helping increase productivity

Explain the growth strategy of Exxon Mobil lubricants in India?

At Mobil Industrial Lubricants, we will continue to expand our footprint commensurate with growth that this market offers, which we are excited about. We will also continue to grow and invest in programmes to ensure that our technology and application expertise can deliver the Advancing Productivity benefits to our customers.

We expect the demand for synthetic oil-based lubri­cants to increase as the industry is more aware of new technologies and is keen to reap energy efficiency and productivity gains.

© Chemical Today Magazine

See the Interview Coverage in Chemical Today magazine (Pg 24)


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