Chief Operating Officer,
SBU-Greases & Lubricants,
Balmer Lawrie spend around 1.5 percent of the turnover and 20 percent of the profit in R&D activity, says Sreejit Banerjee, Chief Operating Officer, SBU-Greases & Lubricants Balmer Lawrie
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?
As per available data from various sources, the construction Industry in India is expected to grow at around 6.5-8.5 percent in next 5 years, however a lot will also depend on how the Government is able to tackle the recent economic crisis being faced. However we are all very optimistic about the growth from this segment as otherwise the country will not achieve its targeted economic growth in next 5 years.
While the global studies are bullish about lubricant segment, how do you see the Indian market panning out in the next three years?
Overall lubricant consumption in India is projected to grow at an annual rate of 2.5 percent over the next five years. Automotive, Transport & increase in Construction & Infrastructure development will continue to drive the growth. PCMO & MCO segment will register higher growth percentage in next few years with lower viscosity grades & synthetic blends gaining more share of volume. The consumer segment is set to grow the fastest, followed by the commercial and industrial lubricant segments. Increasing drain intervals in the automotive and industrial sectors and the modest impact of electric vehicles in the future are likely to hinder the market growth in next 5-10 years horizon.
With more and more players entering the market, how tough is to retain your market share?
Balmer Lawrie has been primarily a B2B player in all these years & is well respected with its product quality & service in segments like Railways, Defense, Steel & Long Drain Interval Greases in Transport Segment. Our greases scores over our competitors in cost-performance-quality criteria. We supply our products on proprietary basis to many of our customers in selected segments where we operate including few major OEMs in Commercial Vehicle Segment. We don’t see that we will lose our markets in these segments as we continuously work on giving better value proposition to our customers with improved and new performance standards to meet their requirements.
Recently we have made foray into Retail Market with our Balmerol product range and we are quite hopeful in being able to increase our market share in this segment by increasing our distribution network & bringing in more products as per market requirement. We have been growing more than average Industry standard in last few years both in value and profitability term. The next few years will be quite exciting for us with aggressive double digit growth plan to become one of the significant player in India in Lubricant business. Economic Times has awarded us Best Brand,2019 in Feb,2019 based on a study by Nielsen Research which has identified few leading brands in India as per customer perception. Even recently we have been adjudged as Best Supplier by Tata Motors-SPD ( Spare Parts Division).
What are the new adaptations made in your product to increase efficiency?
We have the advantage of having our own Application Research Laboratory (full fledged R&D Centre with NABL accreditation) in Kolkata where we develop high performance specific products to meet customer’s requirement. We supply to a major OEM in Commercial Vehicle segment Synthplex grease which is a semi synthetic grease with drain period of over 2.0 lakh KM. We have developed Fire Resistance Grease, Synthetic Mould Oils, Bio-degradable products with Synthetic Esters developed in house. We are the only lubricant company where we produce synthetic Esters in our own facility which houses an ester manufacturing plant. We spend around 1.5 percent of our Turnover & 20 percent of our profit in our R&D activity.
Which segment do you see more demand coming from? (Mining/Construction)
We expect more demand in next few years to come from construction segment as Government has already made announcement to push for infrastructure development in the wake for economic development of the country. Mining activity will continue but will have the challenge of overcoming environmental restrictions imposed upon which will continue and government has now been able to curb lot of illegal mining done in this country.
Could you touch upon the new trends seen in grease lubricants?
There are different trends observed in different geographies and different parts of the world as far as Grease uses are concerned. In general production of Lithium Complex Greases have significantly increased due to the versatility and stable performance of this thickner. Aluminium Complex greases are also becoming popular. Poly Urea Greases are used to combat higher temperature requirement due to higher speed and load. Calcium Sulphonate Greases are being tried out but has some limitations to 100 per cent replacement of Lithium Complex Greases. As regard to future we may see usage of functional soaps (like Lithium- Bismuth) non polar thickners ( poly-non-urea), Nano particles, Liquid Crystals and Bio Greases making inroads.