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Sustainability is a key trend in lubricants industry

Klüber Lubrication, a part of the Germany-based Freudenberg Group, has been providing Indian customers with speciality lubricants and services since 1999. Klüber Lubrication’s innovative lubrication solutions are designed to protect the customer’s equipment and help them improve productivity and reduce maintenance costs. Klueber Lubrication India is complementing its specialty lubricant portfolio with its well-known OKS MRO brand. Sebastian Homborg, CEO of Klüber Lubrication Pvt Ltd, has been at the helm of the business in India since October 2015. With an improving economic scenario, rising industrialisation and an increase in the use of advanced machinery, the demand for speciality lubricants is expected to grow at a robust pace. In this interview with Rakesh Rao, Sebastian Homborg elaborates on the importance of speciality lubricants and the growth plans of Klüber Lubrication in India.
How has been your experience in India since you took over as the CEO in October 2015?
Lots of international equipment manufacturers are setting up production facilities in India. These companies implement global manufacturing processes and use high-quality raw materials for production. They therefore need speciality lubricants in their manufacturing facilities and equipment.
As customers in India are cost-conscious, we need to provide them with the right mix of products. 
We therefore have an R&D centre and a manufacturing facility in Mysore to meet our customers’ needs. A specialty lubricant needs to be explained and its values tested as they come with a premium pricing compared to conventional volume produced lubricants. Here we invite our customers to our laboratories in India
How is demand for Klüber Lubrication’s industrial lubricants in India?
India is one of the fastest-growing economies of the world and there is strong emphasis on domestic production through the “Make in India” initiative. With manufacturing activity rising, the requirement for well-lubricated machinery is also growing to increase productivity
and efficiency. There is thus strong demand for speciality lubricants in India. 
We operate in many industrial segments such as automotive, textile, cement, chemical, food processing, power, mining metalworking, oil & gas, railways, etc. In the food processing industry, we are seeing promising growth in the demand for speciality “food grade” lubricants, where companies need to adhere to high-quality and excellent safety standards. It is important to ensure that lubricants used in food processing equipment do not contaminate the food that is being processed or packed. To meet and maintain food safety and hygiene standards, we have a special range of products. With growing awareness among Indian food processors about health and food safety, we believe the demand for our lubricants is bound to rise thanks to the quality of our products. 
What is the status of the speciality lubricants industry in India?
Overall, the lubricant market is driven by demand from the automotive sector and its related industries. Speciality lubricants, formulated using advanced technologies and high class raw materials, are multi-functional and offer superior quality and, hence, are increasingly becoming the most preferred type of lubricant. The improving economic scenario, rising industrialisation and an increase in the use of advanced machinery are positively influencing the demand for speciality lubricants in the country. We expect the demand for speciality lubricants to grow by 15 percent this year.  
What are your plans to further tap the automotive and auto component sector?
The automotive sector is one of the largest consumers of speciality lubricants. With India emerging as one of the fastest growing automotive markets globally, the demand for speciality lubricants is also expected to increase manifold.
We understand the requirements of the automotive industry very well as we closely work with manufacturers to deliver the right type of products and services. Automakers must build vehicles to meet the requirements of local customers. Having an R&D unit in India has helped us become a development partner for these OEMs and develop speciality lubricants for specific applications in the automotive industry.
With growing environmental awareness, is the demand for eco-friendly lubricants increasing in India?
We experience that the awareness for sustainability issues is not yet a major concern for the Indian industry and still is driven by huge corporations majorly. New and advanced and more eco-compatible lubricants have a different value proposition than conventional ones.
It is our task to highlight the specific advantages of these products also to small and medium scale companies, who very often opt for conventional lubrication systems only considering the pure purchase price. Our biodegradable lubricant, produced eg. by using base oil that is derived from renewable raw materials, is not only more eco-compatible but provide all features of high-performance lubricants to the customer. 
Biodegradable, water-based lubricants are used by gearbox manufactures, food processors (to lubricate their conveyor systems), etc.
What are the key trends in the lubricants sector? 
Sustainability is one of the key trends in this sector. Speciality lubricants, which reduce friction between moving parts, can help the user save energy and become energy-efficient. By opting for our lubricants, users can effectively reduce their energy costs and contribute saving resources and avoiding waste.
There is a rise in the usage of synthetic lubricants compared to mineral-oil based lubricants. 
In line with global trends, customers across industries are looking for add-on services-improving the system performance beyond the pure lubricant features.  Hence, lubricant manufacturers need to offer services alongside selling lubricants.

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