Hitendra Bhargava CEO, and Kanakaraju T, Chief Technology Officer, Klüber Lubrication India, discuss with PP Basistha the company’s business strategy for growth, supported by its superior products under the brand names Klüber & OKS and its customized, digital services designed to enhance the performance of machines with higher productivity and uptime.
Please give a brief background of Klüber Lubrication.
Klüber Lubrication is a fully owned business group of Germany’s Freudenberg Group (a family-owned technology company founded in 1849 by Carl Johann Freudenberg). It is a division of Freudenberg Chemical Specialities SE & Co having its parent facility in Munich. It produces specialty lubricants collaborating closely with OEMs.
Which segment of buyers does the company cater to and what demand growth do you envisage?
The company’s customers include component manufacturers, assemblies, machineries, and plants. Some of the important business segments catered are construction and mining involving hydraulic drills, power tools, cement, steel, and material handling.
We foresee demand of lubricants and greases becoming both volume -and value-based, especially for on and off highway construction, mining, and material handling equipment in India. The higher demand volumes will be due to ongoing infrastructure development activities, including expansions in mining, steel, and cement plants. The demand for more value-based lubricants and greases will be led by the plant and machinery owners and operators as they will look to reduce their cost of operations, while ensuring greater uptime of their machines, and higher productivity.
We believe that value-based demand of lubricants and greases will firm up since equipment manufacturers are now increasingly focused towards delivering total lifecycle costs for the equipment, especially since the initial cost of equipment has been going up as more and more advanced features are being added.
We at Klüber Lubrication see this development as a very good opportunity to increase our business presence, where there is not only demand for superior products, but demand for superior services as well - both from the OEMs and the end-users.
What cost benefits do Klüber lubricants bring to machine owners?
Our customers are usually tier-1 suppliers to OEMs. This constitutes the component and aggregates suppliers, comprising the bearing systems, brakes, the engine, power train, and gear manufacturers who do not use general lubricants on a mass scale; rather, they have specified points that require to be filled with lubricants and greases. The points are in doors, windows, shafts, gears, hub unit bearing, brake booster, etc.
Our lubricants and greases feature low input and high output. Since reliable lubrication can be attained with very small levels of Klüber Lubrication, there is reduced raw material consumption, low material input, and lesser wastage and disposal cost. In metalworking and lubrication of gears, our customers achieve considerable cost benefits without any detrimental impact on the safety and service life of their plants.
How do you plan to enhance your customer services?
We will be enlarging our business presence through our highly competitive services and deliverables compared to competition. There are high entry barriers for services for lubricants and greases in India; the cost of lubricants is a mere 2% of the total operating cost of the equipment which the machinery owners have to bear while using them for gears, bearings, and shafts etc. Due to this, most of the lubricants and grease producers have remained focused on general conditioning/monitoring support, timely supply of products, assured availability, etc. However, we are rendering a better value proposition through our well packaged services backed by our digital tools for evaluating the performance of equipment.
What product support is Klüber extending to its customers?
We are delivering superior quality products through our advanced production, testing processes, and ISO quality systems. Based on customer needs, we also do third party audit certifications.
To meet volume-based demand we have our lube depots, and 78 distributors across the country with dealers in remote areas as well. We are supplying directly to aggregate manufacturers through our ‘fit for life’ solutions and are exploring the possibility of expansion in the aftermarket business.
Please elaborate on the company’s use of digital tools.
All Our Digital services are offered via our Digital Service Platform, Efficiency Manager with an aim to increase our customer’s machine uptime while continuously optimizing the maintenance costs.
Together with our customers, we develop tailored solutions that provide transparency on their lubrication tasks and carry our maintenance on machinery exactly when necessary. Our real-time sensor data of lubricants combined with interpretations from our laboratory, is already considered of high value in the market.
Lubricant Condition is an early indicator of machine failure and together with DALOG, a machine monitoring expert, we are now able to provide a holistic view on the overall machine condition, and further move into the area of Predictive maintenance.
What are the challenges?
Though the company may have the solutions for Lubricant mapping and condition monitoring, however, optimum level of performance evaluation of the machines, especially in the Heavy Industry remains a challenge in India. This is due to inadequate data from the asset owners and users pertaining to the areas where the machines are operating, or on their usage.
We are looking to overcome these constraints and deliver optimum product support by closely working with our customers and developing special solutions that increase the availability of their machines and minimize their total cost of ownership.
What new/advanced products are being planned by Klüber?
Our aim is to deliver higher product performance and reliability; we will be introducing water-based lubricants and bonded coatings. The water-based lubricants will be highly beneficial in dissipating heat, especially for machines working in higher temperatures.
The bonded coating will help avoid metal to metal contact and also replace grease. All these new solutions will bring down energy consumption in the equipment, and even increase their uptime.