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Shell Lubricants strengthening its market position

“Our position in the industry has been growing every year and becoming stronger. Going forward, the company expects to see much greater availability of Shell Lubricants and faster growth in the market,” says Akhil Jha, Vice President Technical, Lubricants, Shell India Markets Pvt Ltd.
 Taking one step further to provide value to its customers, Shell Lubricants has started Technical Webinar series. In an interaction with OEM Update, Mr Jha describes the ongoing industry trends and Shell’s recent initiatives.     How do you look at the current trends in Indian lubricants market? Indian lubricants industry is one of the fastest growing lubricant industries in the world. The key growth trends shaping the lubricant industry in India are: • Oil marketing companies are shifting focus to the untapped rural market  Hence most of the lubricant companies will continue to focus strongly in rural markets. As there is a strong push in farm mechanisation and evolving sophistication of customers in new Agri equipment, increasing performance required from lubricant/ increase attention to lubrication is considered as critical factor for effective equipment management. Shell Lubricants will continue to focus in Agri markets by working closely with OEMs in enhancing operational efficiency by meeting challenges of higher ODI, better fuel economy etc.• Growing opportunities for  synthetic lubricants  Indian lubricant market is the fifth largest in the world in terms of consumption after the US, China, Russia and Germany. Further, the growing demand for sophisticated passenger cars and high-tech trucks and buses, and with the entry of multinational car manufacturers, the Indian lubricant industry is poised to grow in the coming years. Also there is a gradual shift towards high quality lubricants with longer drain intervals. Rapid industrialisation and challenge for reduced emission norms also lead to emergence in opportunities for synthetic lubricants• Changes in engine technology (reduced emissions)  Stronger emission norms and demand for fuel efficiency are driving OEMs to keep developing new engine technology at a faster pace. One of the external causes for technological changes and new emerging technology coming in is emission norms. As emission norms are becoming tighter and India catches up with global emission norms in line with Euro norms, there is a need to make a lubricant which is able to cope with stringent emission norms• OEMs introducing own brands  Most of the equipment manufacturers and OEMs aspire to service their customers directly. It has now become an acceptable trend that OEMs have their own branded lubricants offering to their end customers as a part of the warranty programme• Focus on energy efficiency  Energy efficiency is often linked to higher productivity, lower costs, and continuous operation and thereby contributing to lower TCO. Focusing on energy efficiency and total cost of ownership leading to adoption of more leading edge products and solutions is a key trend today. Efficiency improvements will vary based on operating conditions and application.
How do you see your position today?Shell Lubricants is excelling global lubricants market. We have 10 to 15 per cent market share in what we call an accessible market in India. Globally, we are the largest with about 12 to 13 per cent market share and in India too we plan to continue growing at double digit rate over the next three to five years. Also we have plans to increase and intensify the adoption of leading edge energy and total cost of ownership efficient technology.
Our position in the industry has been growing every year and becoming stronger. Going forward, the company expects to see much greater availability of Shell Lubricants and faster growth in the market as it wins new customers. We believe in delivering best quality to our customers for which we carry intensive research for designing our products in our R&D centre based in Bangalore. A number of capabilities which we are now bringing to the marketplace have been developed in the past seven years and are well received by our customers.
What are Shell’s initiatives toward collaboration with OEMs? Shell Lubricants engages with the customers at the initial stage itself and work together towards co-engineering the best lubricant and services suiting their requirements so that optimal performance can be obtained. When a new equipment is launched either due to or environmental norms or technological changes it enforces the equipment requirements to change and Shell Lubricants works with OEMs to develop lubricants to address these.
Could you mention some of your successful collaborative approaches for the OEMs in India? Few of our key Auto OEM partnerships in India are Tata Motors, Volvo-Eicher, Daimler Passenger Car: Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, Ford, General Motors etc.
To quote an example around achieving more efficiency for our OEM partner, we developed a lubricant technology for a Daimler truck, which set a Guinness Book of world record for drainage interval. In such case, we take the entire driveline and chassis into our lab and based on many samples and measurements we design the oil specifically for the engine.
In India, we have done a co-engineering project with Tata Motors on next generation platform particularly on fuel economy, which is launched in India Market as Rimula T5 10W-30 with benefits on fuel economy. We have also developed a synthetic technology for our partner Daimler India. We helped them to break the records of fuel economy trucks using our technology. In addition, we have technical collaboration with TAFE where our focus is in extending oil drain interval for the engine oil to achieve reduction in total cost of ownership.
What are the major difficulties you face dealing with Indian OEMs? Some are technical, some are cultural. India is moving extremely quickly in terms of adopting new technologies into the market. The rate of change witnessed in Europe and USA over the 40 years; India is going through the same phase in much smaller period. But still there is a natural perception to be on a way some technical advantage whether appropriate for the market.
Some OEMs and customers still perceive that thicker lubricants are better as they have grown with this old perception. So, there have been big cultural challenges. We can have some very big discussion with engineers, very much rationalised and scientific approach. OEMs can be very large, complex organisation with thousands of people working. However much we do, we only deal with the small number. So, influencing a very large organisation is a challenge.
Shell has recently organised a Webinar. What is the purpose of such events and how is it going to help the OEMs? At Shell Lubricants, our OEM partnerships are one of the most important pillars. We collaborate with leading companies and manufacturers that have some of the most exciting technology challenges, gaining expertise in lubricant technology and then applying it in a way that benefits customers. Taking one step further to provide value to our customers, we are the first company in India to start Technical Webinar series.
The purpose of these webinars is to educate customers including OEMs, distributors and partners on specific applications via technical experts who can share sector specific experiences and what Shell can offer to overcome their challenges. It also provides customers, a platform to gain knowledge of the latest trends in the industry with relevant references. The USP of the webinar format is Conversing with various customers at multiple locations in a click. The response from the OEMs who attended the webinars was positive.

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