View From the Bridge - March 17

According to the latest stats from Global Market Insights, growth in the global lubricants market is not showing signs of slowing anytime soon.  In fact, according to GMI, it is likely to be worth more than $74bn by 2022.

If the industry's strength was matched by the same levels of confidence in the global economy, we would all be reaching for the celebratory drinks and toasting our futures. Sadly, it is not quite so simple: while the world's markets are generally showing continued recovery from recession, the picture remains fragile.

The world still faces change and uncertainty.  As the Trump administration gets to grip with building walls, polishing up the Rust Belt and managing fake news, Britain and Europe are limbering up for the opening salvos in negotiations for the UK's EU exit.  Members of the UK Parliament have now voted for Prime Minister May to start the divorce procedings - otherwise known as Brexit - but the outcome is very far from certain.

Add to that the uncertainty of the results of general elections in France and Germany - where a move right towards nationalist, protectionist policies cannot be ruled out (although they failed to appeal to the majority of mainstream voters in the latest Netherlands election) - and not only European, but global companies have plenty to think about right now.

The automotive sector - clearly the strongest driver of the lubricants industry according to Transparency Market Research - is facing its own challenges. Consolidation continues, witnessed by the latest deal between the Peugeot group and GM to buy the latter's European operations and brands. The pressure is also on from the regulators who are biting hard on the emissions bullet in an effort to reduce inner-city pollution.

As with almost every other observer, trying to make a prediction as to where all this might end is pure guesswork.

For OATS, the short-term future is also full of change, but all of it positive and controlled. The organisation is still working out its important role as part of a larger organisation - HaynesPro - and how to make the most of the opportunities this provides.

As part of that process, we are investing in the content and geographical coverage of our datasets, to allow us to deliver the best possible solutions to our customers and partners.  Already in Q1 we have significantly enhanced our coverage of the European car parcs.

Many of these changes will be on show alongside Haynes and HaynesPro at the Automechanika Exhibition at Birmingham's NEC from 6-8 June.

By that time, the French President will have been chosen and Brexit will have formally started. Certainly enough to talk about over our first cup of coffee together when you join us on the stand!

In the meantime, as always, you can find out more about the ways OATS can help enhance your business by simply contacting us via e-mail.

Peter van der Galiën and the OATS team.