Technology Lifts Grease Sales

Frost & Sullivan estimated the global industrial grease market will reach U.S. $1.8 billion (RMB 11.2 billion) revenue in 2019, up from $1.2 billion in 2012, with technological improvements and customized grease systems creating opportunities for market participants in a wider range of industries.

The international market research firm in April published, Analysis of Industrial Greases Market and Opportunities for Bio-based Materials. The analysis is presented in terms of sales in dollars.

Anna Jarosik, Frost & Sullivans industry analyst for chemicals, materials and the food industry, told Lube Report the two top industrial grease applications in 2012 were manufacturing (including industries such as oil and gas, pulp and paper, textiles and electronics) at 22.5 percent of global sales revenue and infrastructure at 16.4 percent. Steel milling was third at 14.1 percent and automotive followed at 12 percent.

Revenues were highest in North America and in Asia-Pacific, Jarosik said. The top two applications in North America by revenue were manufacturing with 32 percent and the steel industry at 18.4 percent. In Asia-Pacific, the top two applications in industrial grease were mining with 36 percent of sales revenue and manufacturing at 17.4 percent.

Continuous technological improvements and innovative solutions in industrial greases will attract business from new industry sectors, Jarosik said in a news release. Further, close and active cooperation among grease designers, manufacturers and end users will support the production of highly customized grease systems, creating opportunities for market participants in a wider range of industries.

Jarosik explained that customized grease systems typically refer to products that are not commercially available but designed especially for the needs of a certain client. Customized greases strongly depend on requirements and their composition [and] viscosity, and hence thickeners and additives are adjusted to the working conditions and environment.

As a result of continuous research and development, changes will likely occur in the base oil types used in production of industrial greases, Frost & Sullivan forecasts. These, in turn, are expected to result in various formulation changes that will be beneficial to some additive families, such as those used as oxidation and rust inhibitors, she said.

These changes in base oil type are mainly related to the fact that vegetable oils - such as soybean, rapeseed and sunflower oils - are gaining in popularity in the industrial grease market worldwide, she continued. This is supported by increasing crude oil prices as the most popular mineral oils are distilled from petroleum, [for example] naphthenic, paraffinic oils, other mixtures of hydrocarbons as well as aromatic base oils. Apart from changes in base oil types, we will notice changes in additives used to manufacture industrial greases.

The firm said stricter regulations and environmental standards, engine hardware changes and extension of lube change intervals will place additional pressure on industrial grease manufacturers to improve product performance, durability and robustness.

Frost & Sullivan said environmentally-friendly industrial greases have considerable potential due to growing ecological consciousness around the world.

The advantages of biolubricants are anticipated to tilt customer preferences toward industrial greases instead of lubricating oils or alternative products, noted Jarosik. Therefore, increasing legislative pressure will go a long way in aiding the growth of the industrial greases market.