Do Economy lubricants save you money?
Cheaper lubricants can offer short-term cost savings, but are they the right choice overall? Our Shell experts explore why the right product can reduce TCO and downtime.
Seven Shell lubricant experts recently offered their advice. Scott Kwas, Gary Roberts, Siva Kasturi, Greg Paluska, Praveen Nagpal, Robert Profilet and Raghavendran Madhavarao explain what you need to know to get the best from your machines and the best for your business:
Companies want to find cost savings when times are good and especially when times are bad, and a quick cost-saving item to jump to is choosing economy lubricants over premium alternatives. Some would argue it’s simply good business sense.
The challenges come when products that seem like a good value, turn out to be more costly and damaging in the long run. These false economies can become a burden on operations and a business’ bottom line.
Shell’s Global Product Application Specialist, Praveen Nagpal explains: “Unplanned outages and downtime are things every customer wants to avoid. Historically, some customers have had the mindset of defaulting to the cheapest supplier. But they’ve come to realize that’s never a good solution. A higher number of failures, oil changes and unplanned stoppages means the initial investment was less but now there are plenty more losses on top.”
Choosing the right lubricant is key
It’s easy to fall into the false economy trap of choosing an inferior lubricant. As manufacturer and supplier technologies have progressed, so has the portfolio of “approved” lubricant choices, covering a range of price points.
Shell Technical Manager Greg Paluska explains: “There is still the hurdle where some of our customers say – yes these fluids are more expensive. And there’s a reason for that – they’re harder to manufacture. But the advantages and total cost of ownership story is pretty powerful. The cost of oil is only one factor.”
Cheaper lubricants may be attractive in a cost-focused environment but they are also, in most cases, only a short-term savings. The right lubricants are important when reducing downtime, TCO, and in transitioning to predictive, preventive maintenance.
Nagpal says, “If the application needs a mainstream product and you still push for a premium product, it can definitely increase your total cost of ownership. Proposals need to be aligned with customer need.”
Look at the bigger picture. We have many customers that are very sophisticated and do just that. However, there are always those who say ‘Cheaper is better.’
Education is critical
Educating technicians and management is critical to putting a best-practice lubrication system in place. It pays to choose a lubricant that is specifically designed for the engine, pump or gear workings it supplies – which helps manage maintenance cycles. It pays even more when your team is adequately educated and equipped to use the products correctly.
“The general view we run into is that lubricants are just an industrial consumable. They are in constant need of replacement and also are only a small part of the overall maintenance budget, typically 2-3%. So it doesn’t take up much of the customer’s consideration. But also, they’re not aware how that 3% can have a bigger knock-on effect on their operation further down the line.”
Raghavendran Madhavarao, Sector Marketing Manager for Shell concludes. “They sometimes can’t believe lubricants play such a big role in the total cost of ownership.”
Our team is here to help educate and recommend the best products for you. Reach out today to speak with a Shell lubricants expert.
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