Off-road Transmission Fluids Sag


Asian demand for transmission fluids used in mining and construction equipment is poised to stagnate against a backdrop of slower sales in China, an industry insider said at a recent conference.

The Asia-Pacific region is the worlds largest market for TO-4, Caterpillars transmission lubricant benchmark specification, Alexandre Gendron, of French Chevron Oronite, told RPIs Lubricants Russia conference in Moscow last month. The regions main countries – such as China, India, Japan, Australia and Indonesia – consumed 375 million liters of these fluids in 2014. They were followed by North America with 349 million liters consumed in the same year, he said. Africa and Europe consumed similar volumes of around 100 million liters each, while Latin American demand for TO-4 amounted to 40 million liters.

Gendron, who is a product line specialist at the French additive makers office in Paris, cited data from Kline & Co. consultancy.

TO-4 lubricants are used in drive cases to lubricate equipment transmissions and in driveline systems. Also, these oils can be used in construction equipment hydraulic systems.

In Asia, the benchmark specifications for lubricants for this type of equipment are developed by original equipment manufacturers Komatsu and Caterpillar, which are based in Japan and the United States, respectively. The name of Komatsu’s own transmission powertrain oil specification is KES 07.868.1, Gendron said. Specification-setters in the regions such as Europe and North America are Caterpillar and ZF, the latter a German maker of driveline, transmission and steering systems.

Chevron found that around a 30 percent share of the global finished oils supply in construction and mining equipment is supplied either by OEMs or by the lubricant marketers. The main-tier segment occupies a 50 percent market share and is set by the TO-04 or ZF 03C/07F specifications. The rest, or 20 market share, are entry-tier lubricants [meeting] TO-4 and TO-2 specs, produced with the use of Group I base oils only, Gendron said.

The additive company also found that global sales of construction equipment have seen volatility in the past couple years with Chinese sales plunging due to the countrys slower economy. Chinese construction equipment sales dropped 25 percent in 2014, compared to the year before. These sales depend on the immediate economic activity – for example, North American and European construction equipment sales have shown a growth of 25 percent and 9 percent respectively in 2014, Gendron said, citing data from the Committee for European Construction Equipment.

Five of the ten largest construction equipment makers in the world are Asian, according to Chevron.

The worlds major construction and mining OEMs in 2014 were Caterpillar and Komatsu, which held 18 and 11 percent of the market, respectively, according to the International Construction 2015 Yellow Table, cited by Gendron. Many other smaller players such as German Liebherr, American John Deere, Japanese Hitachi, as well as Chinese XCMG and Swedish Volvo, each held around 4 percent of the market. Two more OEMs, Chinese Sany and Korean Doosan, each held a 3 percent share.

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