View from the Bridge - Bulletin 155

The new WTO Bali agreement must be good news for global markets as it enables merchandise to be shipped more easily around the world. What impact it will have on the lubes industry is too early to say, but the principle of growing world trade as a whole has to be good for all lubricants that rely on movement.

REACH meanwhile seems to be having the opposite effect. At the UIEL congress in Brussels Michal Kubicki, from the European Commission, reported “REACH functions well” – to the incredulity of some listeners and the criteria for success were not revealed.  As recently as September this year, the European Chemicals Agency reported a two thirds non-compliance rate and, with the cost of the initiative being high for even the largest chemical companies, OATS are receiving reports that some additives are being withdrawn from the market. Consultations are continuing and relevant evidence is being sought by the commission, especially to reduce the impact on SMEs. We look forward to seeing the resultant report and actions.

On the quality theme, another stop-sale order case, this time in North Carolina, indicates that US authorities are also taking compliance more seriously.   According to the official statement: “results for both the oil and automatic transmission fluid showed that additives were either absent or not at the correct levels”.  I believe we need to see more action along these lines, in both Europe and the BRIC countries, to ensure lubricants deliver what they say on the packaging.  Again, anecdotal reports to OATS suggest that the VLS quality initiative is already beginning to make an impact in the market place.

Meanwhile, falling costs of energy are transforming the US, which is seeing robust GDP growth of 3.6% - a figure EU countries can currently only dream of.  However, it should be remembered that that the EU is still the world’s largest vehicle parc with over 240million cars.  It also has the highest population density at 483/1000, compared with 41/1000 for China and just 11/1000 for India).  It is not difficult to see why motor  and lubricant manufacturers’ growth focus is on the latter two.

Turning, briefly, to internet marketing,  a recent Netmark Study highlighted the continued importance of SEO (search engine optimisation) analytics and encourages the use of LinkedIn at the expense of Twitter which, it believes, has less importance than businesses perceive. What is abundantly clear is that the advantage of internet marketing reduces costs in providing Technical support, whilst also enhancing the opportunity for customer engagement.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and all our Bulletin readers a very peaceful, relaxing and happy Festive Season and, as always, would would be delighted to hear your feedback on articles in the Bulletin.

You can contact us by e-mail or keep in touch through social media via Twitter @Oats_Ltd, Facebook and LinkedIn, where we will also be keeping you up to date with new articles that appear in the Lubes Resource Centre on a daily or weekly basis. 

Sebastian Crawshaw

Chairman and Owner, OATS