Plugging Benefits of Digitalization

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Plugging Benefits of Digitalization
Gray oil drums on pallet stacking in front of an industrial warehouse. © Mr. Amarin Jitnathum

Digitalization of sales and supply activities can help lubricant companies to manage their businesses more efficiently and effectively, according to a speaker at a recent online conference for the industry in Nigeria.

Addressing the International Lubricant Conference in late April, Openspace Services Pvt Director Niket Shah said digitalization enables automization and integration of functions such as sales, inventory management and communications with customers.

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Shah said that in order to achieve value chain optimization, organizations need a decent level of data analytics and data visualization.

“These analytics can help organization management to modify their processes so they get optimal output,” he said. He advised focusing on what he called the three Ds of digital transformation: design, which refers to business conceptualization; development, which includes enterprise solutions and the internet of things; and data, which stands for incorporating data science, data analytics and data visualization.

Shah cited cases of apps developed for two Nigerian lube producers by Openservices, an internet technology company based in Mumbai.

The first is designed to be used by all four main stakeholders in the engine oil value chain: lube manufacturers, distributors, oil installers and consumers. One of its functions is to serve as a product finder so that consumers who input information about their vehicles and then are shown suitable lubricants. Manufacturers may program the function to list their products. Mechanics also benefit from the product identifier function.

The app then reminds consumers when it is time for their next change, helping boost sales for all of the other parties. Installers receive the same notice, enabling them to remind their customers, too. Manufacturers also get information about sales while connecting better to distributors.

“At the same time, as a manufacturing companies, you get real time information of what type of lubricant is going into what type of vehicle in which region of the country, and this helps you to make a lot of business decision,” Shah said.

The second app was developed for a lubricant manufacturer that wanted to connect with all channel partners – national distributors, regional distributors and resellers – compiling real-time information about sales and inventories to improve supply chain efficiency.

“With the digital transformation we provided a formula through which the lubricant manufacturer restocks every channel partner based on the formulas we put across,” he said. “Another best thing is the real time feedback and support they get through this platform, which helps the brand value and improves the organization of, and the relationship between, the channel partners because of the feedback and the support system.”

Event attendees agreed that lubricant marketers can benefit from digitalizing their businesses. Habib Bello, head of lubricants marketing at Ardova Plc, Lagos, Nigeria said lubricant finders are an important tool for the market in Nigeria.

“I think this lubrication finder not only empowers mechanics but also empowers consumers,” said Bello. “Now, you can plug in the brand of your vehicle and it will tell the recommended lubricant for that vehicle. It can also advise on the drainage intervals, so it is not something you are at the mercy of your mechanic when it comes servicing your car, you also have background knowledge on how frequently you should service your cars.”

Lubcon International Managing Director Taiye Williams said use of such technology can help transform production and consumption of lubricants in the country. The “application of technology will result in the production of top quality lube products, build the capacity of the industry and increase output for Nigeria to remain relevant in the lubricant market.”

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