General Manager – Industrial Lubricants,
In a conversation with Renjini Liza Varghese, ExxonMobil’s General Manager – Industrial Lubricants Shankar Karnik spoke in length on the opportunities arising from construction and mining
The construction equipment segment is set to see a spike in growth in the wake of significant announcements for infrastructure development. What kind of growth are you expecting?
Infrastructure in India is seeing a period of fast growth and in the recent Union Budget 2019-20, the Government of India has provided the sector an immense boost by allocating Rs. 4.56 lakh crore (US$ 63.20 billion) for it. We are confident that the government, with its stable mandate, will provide support for policies to be executed and help to boost investments. We at Mobil see India as one of our high-growth regions. We are excited about this upswing in infrastructure development and believe a positive market scenario will augment our growth. Our deep expertise with the construction segment has led us to formulate lubricants tailored to its specific needs, helping businesses reduce wastage, improve productivity, and protect the health of equipment while reducing downtime. We have a wide range of performance-oriented products ranging from the Mobil DTE 10 ExcelSeries of hydraulic oils, to engine oils such as the Mobil DelvacMX PLUS 15W-40, and greases like Mobilgrease XHP 220 Series. We are confident that the suitability of our products would continue to fit aptly into the growth mindset and exuberant development plans in India.
While the global reports are bullish about lubricant segment, how do you see the Indian market panning out in the next three years?
Currently, India is the third-largest lubricant market worldwide, behind only USA and China. What is really interesting is that the Indian lubricant market is the fastest-growing in the world. Even as the lubricant markets in other countries are starting to plateau, the growth in India’s lubricant consumption is averaging between 3-4 per cent per year.
This promising trend in India is thanks to the general expansion of the Indian economy which in turn is being driven by the growth of key sectors like construction and mining – and this is ripe with further potential. These are sectors where Mobil has strong expertise and sophisticated, high-tech products, such as, for instance, the Mobilgrease XHP Mine Series and Mobil SHC Gear OH for mobile mining equipment.
Today, the lubricant market is witnessing several changes as a result of advances in equipment technology and in how lubricants are made or formulated. That the demand is growing in all segments in India is obviously very encouraging for us considering the fact that Mobil manufactures lubricants for all segments. We foresee continuing steady growth in the coming years.
What is your current market share and with more and more players entering the market, how tough is it to retain your market share?
Worldwide, we have a market-leading position as one of the top players in the lubricants space. To grow our market share in India, we are broadening our penetration into the “heart of the market.” This is a strategic approach, backed by research we conducted a few years ago. We are expanding geographically into regions where we have not operated so far and we have widened our spectrum to play into every single sector. We now have lubricants for every single industry and type of operations. Our approach has been showing results – in the last two years we have been growing in double digits.
The market will always be competitive, but our long legacy gives us a substantial advantage. We have a very long-standing heritage in India, with the earliest lubricants in India – in pre-Independence times – being introduced by Mobil. Today, various product categories are being upgraded for evolving norms and policies. For businesses to keep up with such changes, the products they use will also need to improve. Infrastructure equipment in India is the site of a new, advanced global benchmarking; so too is India’s lubricant sector. This shift towards high-tech lubricant products augers well for us as technology is our core strength. We have always been heavily invested in developing advanced products, therefore, our offerings exceed the demands of the industry. With this strategic edge, we are confident of capturing and retaining a bigger share of the growth in the times to come.
What are the new adaptations made in your product to increase efficiency?
Mobil has a rich 150-year legacy, and the most enduring pillar of our journey has been our innovation. Our emphasis on cutting-edge research and development has enabled us to develop a wide range of lubricants that address the needs of every industry. We are driven to bring new technology to our customers – developing lubricants that address evolving business challenges, returning to the drawing board every time new demands are made on an industry. We conduct extensive research, lubricant analysis, and have developed new formulations and additives to ensure optimum performance parameters and higher uptime; our formulations include mineral, semi-synthetic, and synthetic lubricants.
For instance, after assessing the particular need in India, we recently launched the Mobil DTE 20 Ultra Series, a technologically advanced series of hydraulic oils. It is an advanced formulation that significantly reduces the consumption of hydraulic oil. We understand that hydraulic systems operate under a very high-pressure, high-output environment – and this takes a toll on equipment, demanding increased maintenance activity. The Mobil DTE20 Ultra Series helps industries address their performance and efficiency challenges as it offers better wear protection, thus prolonging the component life, and also provides up to 89.2 per cent better deposit control for maintaining precision operations.
Which segment do you see more demand coming from Mining/Construction?
Mining and Construction constitute the biggest priority sectors for us at Mobil. Many new government initiatives have been announced, such as the ‘Smart City Project’, ‘Housing For All’ and more. With these, there is robust demand, steady growth, and a strong influx of investments. This is driving equally strong demand from both sectors for Mobil lubricants. We will continue to train our focus on addressing the evolving needs of the construction and mining industries.
At present our other priority sectors in addition to these, are manufacturing, steel, and cement. We understand that these are steadily developing sectors, with exciting propellers for growth. Our wide range of lubricants has been designed to address very real, industry-specific challenges in each of these sectors.
Touch upon the new trends seen in grease lubricants?
Mobil’s range of grease lubricants has been designed to not just maximize productivity and improve performance, but also go a step further and help the sustainability goals of businesses by minimizing the impact on the environment. We have developed greases that provide extended service life, good water resistance and excellent protection against wear, rust and corrosion to help reduce consumption, workplace contamination, as well as maintenance and replacement costs. Our synthetic greases provide outstanding protection at high and low temperatures, and can potentially help to improve energy efficiency. Some of our high-performance greases include the Mobilith SHC Series, Mobilgrease XHP 220 Series, and the Mobilux EP Series.