Lubricant market delivering smooth growth

  • Industry News
  • Mar 02,22
Continuous industrialisation and growing manufacturing sector are driving the consumption of lubricants in industrial applications. In India, demand for industrial engine oils is accelerating as there is a rising concern about the upkeep of machinery for delivering better quality output.
Lubricant market delivering smooth growth

Lubricants play a vital role in ensuring smooth functioning of machines in various industry verticals. These are basically compounds like oils, greases and fluids, and their primary function is to prevent metal-to-metal contact in dyes and finished component tooling. Industrial lubricants are expected to cool parts, reduce friction, disperse contaminants, minimise wear, prevent corrosion, transmit power and act as a sealant.

“Lubricants have many industrial applications in order to provide protection against corrosion and reduce friction. Industrial lubricants are commendable as they have the capability of providing heat stability and do not breakdown even at the highest temperature range. Lubricants are used in many applications such as in air compressors, bearings, food machinery, gas engines, gears, hydraulic, machining, natural gas compressors, paper machines, turbines and power generation,” said IndustryARC in a report. These lubricants are used in end-user industries like aerospace, automotive, military, marine, chemicals, food processing, textile, oil fields, railroads, construction, agriculture, timber and logging.

Various industrial lubricants are designed to keep the equipment and its performance intact. "For instance, greases, engine oil, hydraulic oil, gear oil, thermic fluids, EDM oils, wire rope lubricants etc. Heavy equipment dominates the demand for industrial lubricants in India. Growing mining activities too have increased the usage of heavy equipment in the country. With increased usage of such heavy equipment, the demand for industrial lubricants is also increasing in the country,” said A P Pandey, Managing Director, Brugarolas India Pvt Ltd - which offers products such as industrial oils, greases, metal forming and metal working lubricants, rust preventing products, and food grade NSF H-1 approved lubricants.


Market trends
The latest innovation in industrial lubricants is the formulation of water-mix metalworking fluids which are boron-free and formaldehyde. This is particularly important to smaller players in the industry who lack research and development resources to come up with their own solution.

“New eco-friendly lubricants are been innovated due to the negative impact of petroleum-based lubricants on the environment is a significant trend in the global industrial lubricants market. Several tonnes of lubricants are washed off into the water streams due to careless disposal and leakages, as a result leading to health-related issues,” said IndustryARC.

Independent lubricant manufacture association is now supporting Singapore based Asian Lubricant Manufacturers Union (ALMU). The ALMU is an Asia-wide organisation representing the combined knowledge and expertise of lubricant manufacturers throughout South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Oceania regions.

The global industrial lubricants market is primarily driven by increasing adoption of complex machinery and tools in various industries. Industrials in the manufacturing sector are constantly in a hunt to boost their output efficiency by enhancing productivity and minimising downtime, sustaining the revenue pool of market players. Rising stringency in regulatory framework is influencing market players to shift towards bio-based industrial lubricants that, apart from environmental benefits, offer better lubrication and viscosity.

Manufacturers are turning to sustainability measures such as reuse and recycling of industrial lubricants. Moreover, lubricant manufacturers are offering onsite and offsite recycling equipment and services to their end users.

For example, Mobil has developed a new Series of oils which have better performance lubricants that are specifically designed to fulfil the demand of machine tools which use one oil for both way lubrication and hydraulic systems.


Growth drivers
Construction sector is the leading consumer of industrial lubricants. The growing infrastructural development in emerging economies is anticipated to fuel the industrial lubricants sales. Hydraulic fluid is the main product type used in the construction industry in lubrication of heavy load equipment, as it relative cheaper compared to other lubricants.

"In the short term, major factor like the increasing usage of high-performance synthetic lubricants is expected to drive the demand for lubricants in the country. Other factors, such as the growing mining operations and robust growth of the construction industry, are likely to provide opportunities for the market in the future,” said an industry expert.

Moving ahead, the automobile industry is also offering potential revenue prospects for industrial lubricant manufacturers. Umpteen benefits of industrial lubricants such as high durability, corrosion protection and high electrical resistance is boosting their usage in the automotive sector.

Several end-use industries such as the food processing industry are gradually incorporating advanced technologies including artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. This requires greater indulgence of machines; thus, auguring well for industrial lubricants market.

Asia Pacific (APAC) continues to hold leading share in industrial lubricants market, owing to well-established construction and automobile industries in China, Japan, and India. Further, surging manufacturing output and increasing industrialisation in these are offering conducive breeding grounds for market players.

North America is also reflecting value-creation opportunities to industrial lubricant manufacturers, owing to expanding oil and gas industry in this region. The US alone houses about 9,000 independent oil and gas power plants. Demand for industrial lubricants is increasing in drilling and exploration activities in the regional oil & gas industry.

The global industrial lubricant market is fragmented in nature. Companies are highly investing upon R&D activities to shape competitive landscape. For example, ExxonMobil Corp has launched FuelCell carbon capture technology that has capacity to lower emission from exhaust streams, power plants, refineries and chemical plants. Similarly, Fuchs Group has launched RENOCLEAN AIR series to control dust production in the mining sector.

Growth restraints
Synthetic lubricants are major threat to environment, as such governments in various countries are imposing bans against their usage. Majority of industrial lubricants are by-products of petrochemicals, disposal of which leads to water pollution. Moreover, decline in automotive production in countries such as the US, and China are likely to affect the demand growth of industrial lubricants in the near future.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on global economy, bringing it back to single-digit growth. During the last two years (2020 & -2021), all countries shifted their resources towards healthcare sector and for R&D of vaccines for treating COVID 19. Government-imposed nationwide lockdowns curtailed the production and shutdown (in worst cases) of manufacturing units in severely affected countries.

Less usage of machinery is resulting in reduced demand for industrial lubricants from myriads of end-use sectors. Subsequent downfall in construction industries across various nations, are further adding fuel to the fire.

With the situation improving, infrastructural development from private and government sectors are picking up in the recent months.

India lubricants demand on the rise
A major factor driving India’s lubricant market is rising vehicle production and sales. Lubricants are essential for reducing friction between crucial rotating or moving components and dissipating heat, both of which contribute to equipment durability and availability, said a Heraldkeepers report.

"Increasing demand for grease and low viscosity fluids in the automotive sector as well as the growing food industry, and rapid industrialisation in developing countries, are anticipated to be the major driving factors in the market,” said A P Pandey.

Hydraulic oils are the key products in the Indian lubricants industry because of their higher index of viscosity, higher bulk modulus, hydrolytic stability, wear resistance, and demulsification. Hydraulic oil accounted for roughly 30% of the market, with industrial engine oils accounting for the remaining 20% to 25%. The demand for industrial engine oils has accelerated due to rising concerns from the manufacturing companies about the upkeep of machinery in order to deliver better quality output.

In the near future, India’s industrial lubricant market is likely to be fuelled by ongoing investment in distribution and branding, demand for advanced lubricants, government initiatives towards infrastructure development and manufacturers’ increasing focus on expanding their production capacity.

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