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Lubricants driving growth and sustainability

Lubricants driving growth and sustainability

September 30, 2023 1:01 pm

In the landscape of India’s oil and lubricants market, a transformation is underway. Amid a global shift towards sustainability and the imperative to cut emissions, the lubricants industry finds itself at the forefront of innovation. This story delves into the latest advancements, surging demand, and eco-friendly solutions shaping the future of oils and lubricants within the Indian market.

In India, the growth of industries and cities has greatly increased the need for lubricants. One of the main reasons for this is the booming automotive industry, which includes cars, trucks, and motorcycles. They all require lubricant solutions to run smoothly. But it is not just vehicles. Other sectors like manufacturing, construction, data centres, and agriculture have expanded rapidly. These industries rely on machinery and equipment that need good lubrication to function well. Hence, as India becomes more industrialised and urbanised, the demand for lubricants keeps increasing.

The lubricant industry is significant for making machines work better, especially in metal cutting. The companies that make machines and tools are changing how they do things. They are choosing more precise and special machines that can work on their own, which makes things safer and helps them make more money. In the manufacturing sector, single and multistage air compressors also have a critical role to play. They run for a long time at really high temperatures. It can result in increased deposits in discharge systems. But the big new thing is emerging data centres. These are places where lots of computers and air conditioners run to keep our data safe. Lubricants are most important here because they help save energy. The lubricants play a crucial component in the efficient operation of machines.

Demand and growth
According to a recent study by Mordor Intelligence, there is a forecasted increase in the global demand for industrial lubricants. It is expected to grow from 21.35 billion litres in 2023 to 25.21 billion litres by 2028, at a CAGR of 3.38 percent. Sustainability, particularly in terms of reducing carbon emissions, is a critical focus in this context.

Modern manufacturing relies heavily on machine tools, and an essential element in ensuring their functionality is the application of metalworking fluids. These fluids are vital in minimizing heat from friction during cutting or grinding processes, ensuring seamless and effective manufacturing. Their applications range from producing coins to crafting aircraft engine parts, providing improved accuracy and protection against bacterial contamination. This trend is expected to pick up speed.

Technology improvements in metalworking fluids make it harder to tell the differences between the types and their pros and cons. These fluids are poised to become more efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sustainable. Dr. Kalpendra Rajurkar, Head of Technology at GP Petroleums, emphasises that they will continue to be an increasingly indispensable part of the manufacturing process as they evolve.

Automotive lubricants
According to a recent report by Bain & Company, India is set to witness a significant transformation in its automotive landscape by 2030. The report projects that electric vehicles (EVs) will account for an impressive 35 to 40 percent of all vehicle sales in the country, marking a substantial rise from the modest 2 percent figure recorded in 2022. This surge in EVs is compelling major lubricant companies to introduce a range of fluids specifically designed for EVs, which may address the need for sustainable solutions. The remarkable growth of EVs can be attributed to changes in consumer behaviour. It also banks on strong policy support and investments from governments and the private sector.

Amid a rapidly evolving automotive industry, the demand for automotive lubricants is significantly transforming. Today’s consumers seek lubricants that boost engine fuel efficiency and deliver the best overall performance. However, the emergence of electric vehicles in the transportation sector is poised to usher in disruptive changes, adding another layer of complexity to this shifting landscape. Consumers seek vehicles with fuel efficiency, lower emissions, and reduced environmental impact as the environmental consciousness grows.

Electric vehicles (EVs) have distinct operational demands. It sets them apart from internal combustion engines, making it essential to develop custom lubricants. These specialized lubricants are carefully crafted to cater to the specific requirements of electric drivetrains, encompassing electric motors, transmissions, and battery systems. The growing demand for eco-friendly and sustainable options is a notable transformation in the automotive market. To comply with eco-friendly regulations, the lubricant industry is bound to intend an approach, thus transitioning from mineral-based oils to biodegradable alternatives.

Sustainability lubricants
In an era of environmental consciousness, the lubricants industry is making strides towards sustainability. With concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impact, there’s a growing emphasis on prolonging equipment life. One significant development in this regard is the rise of bio-based lubricants. These lubricants have specifics to offer reduced carbon footprints and biodegradability. Companies in India should focus on aligning with global trends in sustainable manufacturing.

The impact of eco-friendly standards on the lubricant industry is of utmost importance. A key aspect of this involves the development of greener formulations. Adopting environmentally friendly standards has brought about a fundamental shift in lubricant formulation, production, and usage. Lubricants derived from hydrocarbons have been found to have detrimental effects on the environment. This has created a growing recognition of the importance of ‘Environmental, Social, and Governance principles for sustainable growth. Jayanta Ray, GM Industrial and OEM of GS Caltex India, emphasises that climate change has resulted in global environmental challenges, prompting countries and businesses to collaborate in addressing these issues. However, Hitendra Bhargava, CEO and Regional Management Board Member Asia-Pacific of Klüber Lubrication, remarks an increasing demand for sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions across various industries as natural resource depletion rises.

In industrial lubricants, synthetic oils are making waves for their outstanding performance. These high-tech lubricants are turning heads with their ability to withstand extreme temperatures, extend the time between oil changes, and reduce wear and tear on machinery. As industries in India strive to boost efficiency while staying eco-conscious, the popularity of synthetic lubricants is set to soar. But there is a shift towards eco-friendliness, too, with a growing preference for biodegradable base oils, renewable resources, and additives that are free of harmful substances.

Digital data-driven lubrication
The digital age has yet to spare the lubricants industry. The implementation of IoT and data analytics has transformed maintenance practices. Predictive maintenance allows for precise lubrication scheduling. This extends the life of equipment and also reduces downtime, increasing productivity. In India, industries are gradually embracing these data-driven lubrication practices. This shift is particularly prominent in sectors such as manufacturing, where unplanned machinery failures can result in substantial financial losses. By optimising lubrication schedules based on machine conditions, companies achieve significant cost savings and increased operational efficiency.

Technologies impacting oil and lubricants
The machine makers are now adopting cutting-edge technology, especially from a performance standpoint. Praveen Nagpal, Chief Technology Manager, Shell Lubricants India, said, “Today, the equipment is becoming more compact and smaller; and at the same time, oil quantity is decreasing.” The same oil must perform under stress conditions because of compactness. In the ever-evolving world of lubricants, products must continuously evolve to tackle emerging challenges while safeguarding equipment safety. Advanced lubrication formulations are crucial in preserving equipment health, minimising downtime, and facilitating efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

With its burgeoning economy and industrial landscape, India has experienced a significant surge in the demand for high-quality lubricants. In response to this growing need, manufacturers and suppliers in the lubricant industry are stepping up substantial investments in cutting-edge technology since lubricants should be equipped to meet the ever-evolving challenges of modern industrial applications.

Investments and collaborations
In response to the increasing need for lubricants and to drive innovation, local and international companies have made substantial investments in manufacturing facilities and research hubs within India. These investments serve a dual purpose: consistently providing high-quality lubricants and stimulating job creation while boosting the local economy. Collaborations between Indian oil firms and global lubricant manufacturers have become increasingly prevalent. These alliances seek to capitalise on the strengths of both parties—Indian companies’ local knowledge and extensive distribution networks, combined with the technical expertise of renowned global lubricant corporations. Such partnerships are crucial in introducing advanced lubrication solutions to the Indian market.

A greener and more efficient future
In conclusion, India’s oil and lubricants market is transforming remarkably, fueled by surging demand and a commitment to sustainability. The expansion of industries and the call for eco-friendly solutions have sparked innovation and substantial investments in the sector. India is advancing along its industrialisation journey. The lubricants industry is important in shaping the nation’s greener and more efficient future.

In the landscape of the automotive sector, the spotlight is firmly on the quest for heightened fuel efficiency, driving a surge in demand for ultra-thin oils. This trend shows no signs of slowing down, with both the automotive and associated industries experiencing a significant uptick in lubricants. Consequently, there is an urgent call to action for streamlining lubricant usage. Through strategic investments, collaborative partnerships, and cutting-edge technological innovations, India’s lubricant market is poised for a remarkable transformation to cater to the ever-evolving demands of various industries. It is also pivotal in advancing the nation’s sustainable development goals.

As India progresses, its lubricants industry will remain at the forefront of progress while committed to environmental responsibility. This trajectory propels us toward a future characterized by enhanced efficiency and a dedication to sustainability.


Praveen Nagpal, Chief Technology Manager, Shell Lubricants India 
“Nowadays, the equipment is becoming more compact and smaller, and oil quantity is decreasing.”

Jayanta Ray, GM Industrial, and OEM, GS Caltex India
“Climate change has resulted in global environmental challenges, prompting businesses to collaborate in addressing sustainable issues.”

Hitendra Bhargava, CEO and Regional Management Board Member Asia-Pacific of Klüber Lubrication
“An increasing demand for sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions exists across various industries as natural resource depletion rises.”

Dr. Kalpendra Rajurkar, Head of Technology, GP Petroleums.
“As the technology that goes into developing metalworking fluids evolves, they will continue to get more efficient, economical and sustainable.”

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