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The major grease-consuming industries are general engineering and automotive manufacturing, metals, mining, power generation, chemicals, and cement and so on, writes Jini Job

The recent developmental projects and initiatives introduced by the Indian Government has paved way for manifold opportunities to the construction and mining industry and the subsequent dependant industry such as the equipment segment the oil and lubricant segment and so on and hence, have predicted a growth surge for the oil and lubricant segment by 2024.           

Lubricants are products that are produced by combining proper thickening agents with lubrication grade oils and have solid and semi-fluid characteristics. Lubricants, also known as greases are introduced to reduce introduced to reduce friction between surfaces in mutual contact, which eventually decreases the heat generated when the surfaces move. It also has the function of transmitting forces, transporting foreign particles, or heating or cooling the surfaces.  They have different application and manufacturing procedure from fluid lubricants, grease is considered as a specialty product and is also known to be thickened oil rather than a thick oil.

In India the industrial segment is taken as the largest buyer of grease lubricants with a share of 40-50 percent in total grease consumption in the year of 2018. The major grease-consuming industries are general engineering and automotive manufacturing, metals, mining, power generation, chemicals, and cement and so on.    

Lubricants are used prominently in the industrial segment for the smooth functioning of machines. These greases are available in liquid, semi-fluid, or solid state, and possess various properties, like high viscosity index, high level of thermal stability, high boiling point and low freezing point. These characteristics help to reduce friction between surfaces of machine parts and the degree of wear and tear without compromising functioning efficiency.   

It is expected that the Indian oil and grease market shall register a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.64 per cent, in the period forecast of 2018-2023. The major growth drivers of the market are the increasing automobile production, alongside the growing industrial segment. Indian industrial lubricant market has stood at US$ 1.28 billion in the year, 2017 and is predicted to grow to US$ 1.67 billion by 2023, with a strong basis of growth in mining as well as construction segment across the country.        

The government initiatives towards infrastructure development and growing focus of manufacturers on expanding their production capacities, adding to it the growing demand for cutting-edge lubricants, is expected to fuel the country’s industrial lubricant market.         

In the budget  for FY19, the Indian government declared an investment of US$ 61 billion for upgradation of infrastructure facilities across the country. Furthermore, the government is also planning new seaports and airports. These factors mentioned are projected to have a positive impact on the industrial lubricant market in India during prediction period. 

These ongoing and upcoming developmental projects have boosted the ECE market exponentially. India’s ECE market is expected to grow at a strong CAGR of 20-24 per cent in the coming few years, taking the market to between US$16 billion and US$ 21 billion by 2020. There will be an associated rise based on this with respect to the demand for heavy duty lubricants and engine oils in India. The market size of the Indian lubricants is expected to witness a growth of over 11 per cent, in term of revenue with the major demand growth drivers being the will be the construction and mining sectors, and the new trend is demand for branded products.              

The grease market in India is attended to by a variety of dealers. Some of the major players operating in India industrial lubricant market are Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, Indian Oil Corporation Limited, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Shell India Markets Private Limited, Gulf Petrochem Petroleum Limited, ExxonMobil Lubricants Pvt Ltd, Castrol India Limited, Gulf Oil Lubricants India Limited, Tide Water Oil Co. (India) Ltd, Total Oil India Private Limited. In addition to these players, small and medium-sized lubricant suppliers, specialty grease suppliers, private-label blenders and OEMs serve the market.

In the current market status India has now surpassed Japan to be the 4th biggest lubricants market in the world, with demand for industrial lubricants surging expressively.

Key Market Trends

High-performance lubricants, also referred to as synthetic lubricants, are gaining traction today, due to their excellent properties over mineral oil lubricants, such as low-traction coefficient to lessen power consumption, reduce gear wear, increased service life, and reduced flammability to intensify safety, among others, as a result, makes them most suitable for extreme high-temperature applications, and complex and specific applications.        

The synthetic lubricant segment is continually gaining market share due to the demand for high-performance lubricants increasing rapidly from the industrial sector. The characteristics of these lubricants, of reducing friction and wear, resistance to caustic chemicals, oxygen compatibility, longevity, and extended lubrication intervals, have led to the increase in the demand for grease globally.       

Constant need for technological upgrade

The quick technological development and constant upgradation in the manufacture of machinery and automobiles is escalating the need for an environment-friendly and high-performing lubricants and its additives. Consequently, the lubricant producers must constantly upgrade their production aptitudes and portfolio to keep up with the revised necessities.       

Even though this would mean an emergence of value-added products in the market, it would certainly have a severe impact on the turnover margins of lubricant manufacturers. Not counting the additional costs of revised formulations, suppliers also incur the principal costs of the related technology and upgradation in the infrastructure. Noncompliance with the revised requirements also calls for regulatory attention and further results in drop in market shares.             

Some key companies prefer to outsource grease production. This is based on the study done by Kline and mentioned in their report titled ‘Opportunities in Lubricants: India Market Analysis’. They further analyse the cause to be that, because grease forms a very small constituent of their complete product portfolio and as it cannot be manufactured in blending plants that are used to produce liquid lubricants.  Besides, companies would need to invest substantial resources to maintain their status in market.

Future of lubricants market

What was earlier a basic single component lubricant, in the last century of petroleum,  today’s lubricants are multifaceted and contain large number of components, which should be deeply symbiotic to each other by themselves, and should be in combination with the operating setting of that equipment, that can have very high distinctions of temperature, loading, contaminants, etc. The upgradation and variety in the components of lubricants and its nature have increased the competition in the market with companies rolling out new varieties with respect to the current trends and related requirements. To keep up with the market and maintain their position in this race, manufacturers are today offering more well-defined aftermarket amenities.     

Conclusion

Though the Indian lubricant segment did not get a great start and had a slow growth, it had picked itself back with the much needed boost that it received in the form of Government developmental projects that increased its scope and ambit in relation to the construction machinery and equipment industry.              

Further upgradation in technology and trends have brought in new components and much more variants in the market allowing the consumers a vast array of choices to choose from. Today companies are involved in the market right from production till the after services. Their role in maintaining the durability and the functionality of any machine or product by dropping friction has been a revolutionary move for every sector.           

The forecast for the Indian Lubricant market is that it s set to soar as the demand shall to increase exponentially globally.

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