Lubricants industry in India is considered a catalyst for the growth of many industries such as the automobile industry, the textile industry, oil & gas industry, and glass industry to name a few. Although under the effect of the pandemic, the lubricants industry
is facing a temporary setback, industry experts say that the industry is going to make progress in the near future. Statistics corroborate their opinion as the market is projected to register a CAGR of more than 1.5 per cent up to 2026. Automotive grease
is in demand in the current trend as the engine oil business
is seeking a revival like many other industries.
Let us look at the topmost trends that are boosting the growth of the lubricants industry.
Halting Contaminant Invasion
The quality of oil is essential in order to provide long lasting lifetime for the products that they are used upon. In order to prevent the headspace contamination, new methods have been introduced in recent times. The high space above the lubricant oil in the tanks, reservoirs and lubrication needs to be enclosed and the contaminants need to be excluded from entering the tanks. This is achieved by making the air pass through desiccant breathers that remove dirt and water. The usage of check valves and quick exhaust manifold on the desiccant breathers are also encouraged.
Although there are many other contaminants other than dirt and water, it is easy to overlook the consequences of dirt and water as they form emulsified water which makes the oil to release entrained air. Another concern when the air fails to detrain is oil oxidation and adiabatic thermal failure among many more.
The power of an educated and certified workforce
High quality oil is the most essential thing in the lubricants industry and in order to provide the quality that is expected by the customers in order to use it for their products, educated, qualified and certified people are required in order to maintain the quality of the lubricants. In the current trend, many companies are providing excellent training such as oil analysis report interpretation, food processing equipment lubrication, task based training for workforce development, oil analysis level 1, level 2, level 3, machinery lubrication level 1 and level 2 training for the people.
Another trend that is prevalent is the availability of online training and onsite training. The ICML (International Council for Machinery Lubrication) has certified thousands of lubrication and oil analysis professionals through ISO-compliant standardized testing.
With the growing usage of electric vehicles in our society, the need for E–Fluids is also growing. E-transmission fluids are used in plug–in hybrids (PHEVs), battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and fuel cell EVs (FCEVs) whereas e–greases are designed and used in order to manage noise, vibration and harness (NVH) levels within the electric vehicles.
One of the leading Oil and Gas Company is offering high quality e-fluids based on its proprietary gas to liquid (GTL) technology, starting with natural gas molecules and then converting them into base oils. There is no sulphur in them and is pure paraffin based, exceptionally pure base oils.
“Once added to the sealed environments of BEV or FCEV commercial vehicles, the fluids need to perform at optimum levels over the vehicle’s lifetime; this is why first fill is so important for electric vehicles,” said Carlos Maurer, executive vice president of global commercial at Shell.
Akin to every industry segment, the lubricants industry has its own set of challenges such as to lowering emissions, and the impact of the covid-19 pandemic.
Lubricant developers are under ceaseless pressure in order to improve the fuel efficiency and also reduce the emissions that occur.
“The first immediate task for all parts of the industry is reducing the environmental footprint of their own operations,” Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency said. “As of today, around 15 per cent of global energy-related greenhouse gas emissions come from the process of getting oil and gas out of the ground and to consumers. A large part of these emissions can be brought down relatively quickly and easily.”
Some oil and gas companies are adapting to renewables and other low carbon technologies. Reducing methane leaks to the atmosphere is considered as one of the most important and cost effective way for the industry to reduce emissions.
“Also, with their extensive know-how and deep pockets, oil and gas companies can play a crucial role in accelerating deployment of key renewable options such as offshore wind, while also enabling some key capital-intensive clean energy technologies – such as carbon capture, utilization and storage and hydrogen – to reach maturity,” Dr Birol added.
Impact of the Covid 19 pandemic
Raw material suppliers, lubricant players, contract/toll manufacturers, channel partners and customers has seen a significant impact of the Covid 19 pandemic as the transportation and industrial activities have slowed down. This has created a temporary setback for the industry as it has lost valuable time and finances in the lack of proper supply chain.
“It kind of depends on how this plays out.
With the growing usage of electric vehicles in our society, the need for E–Fluids is growing.
Mostly what it has to do with is the timing and the manner and the speed at which the economy can be reopened, which means a return in the demand for energy. Something approaching like what we’ve had before,” said Karr Ingham, economist.
Notwithstanding all the challenges, there is a lot for the lubricants industry to look forward to. The innovations and future trends that are expected in the lubricants industry are synthetic lubricants, PTFE, and condition based maintenance.
PTFE is a synthetic fluoropolymer of tetrafluoroethylene that has numerous applications. It is a fluorocarbon solid and has one of the lowest coefficients of friction of any solid. When used as a lubricant, PTFE reduces friction, wear and energy consumption of machinery.
In order to meet consumer expectations, manufacturers are adopting synthetic lubricants. Many new vehicles with different oil needs for service have given rise to the need for variations in the synthetic lubricants.
“Some of the manufacturers have designed their individual oil needs, instead of using industry-wide standards. So, we need to carry lots of different types of synthetic oil. In the past, we only needed two or three oils to service all the vehicles; now it’s more like ten variations to cover high-performance vehicles, diesel cars, light commercials, standard smaller cars and SUVs,” Ross Hallett, an independent workshop operator based in Melbourne.
Multiple technologies in condition based maintenance (CBM)
Vibration analysis, infrared thermography and other technologies are combined with oil analysis in order to enhance the CBM toolbox. The combining of new technologies for oil analysis is to progress the efficiency and quality of the lubricants. This is the future trend and there are many innovations that are seen in the CBM.
With the future for the lubricants industry looking positive, the current challenges that are present in the industry are to be addressed with the innovations that are being made with each passing day.