High-Performance Industrial Lube Demand Rises

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SINGAPORE – The demand for high-performance industrial lubricants will continue to grow in Asia, and lubricant blenders will need to provide services and not just products, industry insiders said at the first ICIS Asian Industrial Lubricants Conference held here.

Last year, China recorded double digit growth in high performance industrial lubricants demand, Alfonso Jesena, regional product manager for Indian and Southeast Asia at Fuchs Petrolub, told attendees earlier this month at the conference, which was held Nov. 14-15. Jesensa also said the companys internal study suggested Asias potential for such lubricant demand growth is really good and that the regions demographics have changed.

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The share of industrial high performance lubricants in China will grow from 11 percent in 2015 to 16 percent in 2020, based on consultancy Kline & Co.s estimate, said Niko Dimopoulos, BP Singapore Pte Ltd.s technical manager of high performance lubricants for Asia and Pacific.

In 10 years or so, industrial lubricant consumption may decline due to technological advancements – with new machines requiring less maintenance – while high performance industrial fluids could eventually account for up to 20 percent of industrial lubricants demand in China, according to Castrols Carlos Barrasa, regional vice president of lubricants for China.

At the same time, regulations and new smart technologies like robotics and artificial intelligence are changing the landscape of the manufacturing industry. Manufacturers will want to minimize maintenance and optimize operations while adhering to stringent standards and regulations.

Creating value for manufacturers is key. According to Castrols estimates, lubricants only account for up 3 percent of typical maintenance costs for a manufacturer, while maintenance labor accounts for 45 percent and spare parts 40 percent. However, costs incurred due to inappropriate lubrication can reach 43 percent, while lubrication optimization can lead to savings of 30 percent, explained Dimopoulos.

The cost of lubricants is a small percentage of maintenance expenditure, but if selected and used effectively, can contribute to much larger savings, he said.

Lubricant blenders can create value in other areas.Flushing and inspection of equipment services are things customers expect from the lubricant supplier. They expect technical leadership and expertise, Dimopoulos asserted.

Jesena concurs, saying, Fluid management is a developing trend. As companies in Europe move to Asia, and bring in specifications and chemical process management, it can influence companies in Asia.

Although overall lubricant demand volumes may drop, explained Dimopoulos, there will be an increase in more specialized and high margin lubricants.

Many U.S. companies are entering the region and bringing in their lubricant requirements into the country, said Jesena.

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