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Industry 4.0 offers real opportunities for lubes suppliers

Shell research highlights Total Cost of Ownership as key factor in future technology development.

The latest manufacturing industry report, Exploring Industry 4.0, from oil giant Shell, reveals some major opportunities for lubes suppliers with UK manufacturers generally optimistic about future technologies.

Industry 4.0 is the latest term to describe the development of manufacturing and other processes, in particularly using technologies such as robotics, artificial intelligence and cloud-based, predictive data applications.  According to those surveyed by Shell, some 94% of UK manufacturers are currently using some form of 4.0 technology, with more than half seeing enhanced equipment productivity as the key benefit.

Focusing on the use of lubricants in an Industry 4.0 world, those surveyed acknowledged the important role lubes play in reducing maintenance costs and downtime - in combination with predictive technologies - as well as increasing component life. However, while all of these elements combine to reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) in the longer term, around 50% of companies expect TCO to increase in the short term due to the up-front investment required for tech development and increased maintenance costs in other areas.

The issue of maintenance in particular offered a clear opportunity for lubes producers and suppliers through the provision of expertise.  Many of those surveyed recognised a significant internal knowledge-gap relating to Industry 4.0 technologies, with some 86% stating plans to use the skills provided by their external lubes suppliers to help with development and progress.

As with any significant change, there is always some resistance and the survey highlighed that around 56% of businesses felt the technology is changing too rapidly, with 66% unwilling to invest in new equipment whilst current equimpment remained functional.

According to Shell's UK B2B Marketing Manager, Shahina Kazi: "It’s interesting to note that although 90% of those surveyed agreed that introduction of these new technologies will have an impact on their choice of lubricants, only 32% feel they will need to place more emphasis on equipment protection and a third would focus more on lubricant quality.”

Tags: Lubes tech, Lubricants, Shell

Published 1st March, 2019

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