We see double-digit growth for industrial lubricants
With about 200 distributors and extensive logistical reach, GS Caltex India has consolidated its presence in Indian market. Rajesh Nagar, Managing Director & CEO, shares more on the market opportunities for lubricants in Indian construction and mining industry.

What is the share of lubricants in construction and mining equipment markets?
The current share of industrial lubricants in India is about 38-40 per cent of the total lubricants market. The lubricants market is growing at a rate of 2-2.5 per cent annually. We see considerable growth in consumption of lubricants, especially in construction and mining industry. India is still far behind in world class infrastructure creation and it is estimated that in next 15-20 years an investment of $4-5 trillion investment needed for construction and mining sector to meet the emerging demands of infrastructure development. Out of this huge investment required for the infrastructure and mining activity, a significant part will be towards equipment machinery in the coming years.

In mining, we have a huge reserve of iron ore, coal, bauxite and other such minerals, but we have not been able to effectively exploit these resources. Most of the mining activities are controlled by Central Government through PSUs, but now private players are allowed to participate in these sectors and they are already doing a good business. Government auctioning system related to mining has improved and is quite successful, as government has received good valuation for these auctions. So, there is enormous potential for mining. Lubricants have a big role to play and we must be prepared to meet the growing demand from the equipment segment.

How is the demand for lubricants progressing?
As mentioned earlier, in the next 7-10 years, there is going to be a huge requirement of technology and machinery in construction and mining activities. Many traditional and new range of equipment are going to play a major role with new projects opening up. We ourselves are dealing with many renowned and established OEMs in mining and construction equipment business and we see there is a healthy order book. These OEMs are running in full capacity and regularly introducing newer technology to meet emerging challenges. If you look at the earthmoving and construction machinery, requirement for lubricants is enormous in hydraulics, compressors, engines, gears, pumps, etc. All these parts in an equipment are important for the overall functioning of these machines. So, the lubricant demand is going to be very healthy, as in the construction and mining equipment segment alone, the lubricant growth will be at least in double digit per cent in the next five years.

How are you prepared to meet the diversified requirements from construction and mining segments?
Being part of the global lubricant players, we are prepared to meet the requirements from new projects and technologies emerging in the country as these are already prevailing in the global markets. Projects such as underground mining and construction of bullet train infrastructure, the technology is already available with developed markets. We are working with OEMs of these countries and are ready with the next generation of lubricants which are not currently available in India. We are working closely with the R&D teams of global OEMs to find out the best possible solution for Indian construction and mining segment. Hence we don't see any challenge if we continue to have a strong relationship with global OEMs and work with them in designing new products to match new generation machines and equipment.

What are the key products and solutions you offer to construction and mining equipment?
We offer products and solutions for various applications. In engine oils, most of the recommendations are now on CI-4 Plus oils. We also have CJ-4 products which we have been supplying to some of our customers. In CJ-4, we have 10W-40 product which is used for specific applications. We are further working on the next generation of lubricants required in the industry. So, we are trying to keep ourselves ahead of the technological requirements in India.

Certain gear oil products have now moved on to Group 4 from Group 3, which are categorised as synthetic oils. These synthetic oils are required for the machine to perform at extreme operating conditions. Earthmoving and mining equipment OEMs are now going for higher tonnage and power to bring in efficiency at the project. This requires lubricants that can handle extreme pressure. Going forward, the lowest downtime is going to be a key factor for these projects when one selects the oil, where longer oil drain intervals and quick turnaround time will be the key. Customers now can't afford frequent oil change, for example, in hydraulic oil, there was a time when Hydraulic oil drain interval of 1,000-1,500 hours, but now we are talking about 5,000 hours to 7,000 hours of oil drain intervals. We already have products performing to this level and are continuously working with OEM's to increase the efficiency further. Our R&D center works with OEMs for future generation of machines and engines. In most of the cases, it is going to be high efficiency and extreme pressure applications.

What are the emerging technology trends in lubricants?
Equipment OEMs are focusing on minimising the total cost of ownership of the equipment. Lubricants play major role in equipment maintenance, improved fuel efficiency and low breakdown. Looking at all these aspects, we see lubricants are moving towards synthetic from mineral oils. Going forward, only Group 3, and Group 4 base oils will become choice of recommendation. Each oil range is upgraded to the next level, even gear oils will now have synthetic products and hydraulic oils will have longer drain intervals. Lubrication is required in almost all parts of a construction equipments for the overall efficiency and productivity of the machine. Lubricant technology is improving and moving towards higher levels. In five years down the line oils having very high performance and extreme pressure handling capability will be in highest demand.

What customers look for in their lubricants? How are you fulfilling the customer demand? What are the after-sales services you provide?
We frequently interact and meet with our OEM customers and end-users to understand their requirements and help them in meeting their requirements and overcoming the challenges. In India, price remains a challenge, but it is just one important component in this segment. Reliability of service and high quality of oil is the most important criteria for our customers when it comes to selection of lubricants. Customer are looking for value for their money including oil condition monitoring and training to their staff. A focused aftersales service helps retain the customers with repeat orders. We partner and contribute to our customers' effort to increase efficiency of their operations.

Where do you see the industrial lubricants market in the next five years?
With the investments that we talked about now, to happen in infrastructure, construction and mining in the coming years, the lubricant demand in construction and mining will be in double digits. Infrastructure development is on full swing in various segments such as roads, railways, metro rail, ports, airports and urban infrastructure, which will be the key for the growth of industrial lubricants where a lot of equipment will be at work.

What are your future plans on product and business expansions?
In India, we are definitely looking for expanding our market. Currently we have about 200 distributors and extensive logistic reach to service our customers. We are working closely with our OEM customers in construction and mining space across the globe for the future products and technologies they are introducing. We are already ahead of the requirements and in future also I am sure we will be able to cater the same way.

'In five years down the line oils having very high performance and extreme pressure handling capability will be in highest demand.'