A pan-European survey commissioned by ExxonMobil has found the current economic climate is still the main challenge facing nearly one in two steel operators across Europe and Russia. One in five operators consider global competition in the steel industry to be the principal barrier they need to overcome today, while more than one in 10 see rising energy costs as their key concern.
Against this backdrop, steel operators are constantly looking at ways to optimise performance and reduce costs. Four in five operators strongly favour taking a proactive approach to maintenance to improve the performance of their machinery, while a large majority (94%) of steel plant operators consider lubricants to be an important factor in optimising machine performance.
"Steel plant operators are facing a range and severity of challenges like never before. Selecting and applying high quality lubricants can play a major role in navigating the tough operating conditions they face, helping to enhance the protection of their valuable machinery and increase productivity," said Kirill Chervyakov, industrial marketing advisor Europe, Africa and Middle East for ExxonMobil Fuels & Lubricants.
When selecting a lubricant, steel plant operators consider important performance benefits such as equipment protection (85%), ability to extend oil drain intervals (71%) and energy efficiency capability (69%). However, almost half of respondents still rank price as an important factor when purchasing a lubricant. By focusing on purchase price and with only 60 percent of operators currently considering upgrading to higher quality oils to improve machinery performance, many are likely to be missing out on long-term performance benefits and cost savings offered by high quality lubricants.
"While price is an important consideration, steel operators should look at the longer term contribution a high quality lubricant can make in helping to reduce overall operating costs - particularly limiting unscheduled downtime, lowering maintenance costs and extending machinery life," says Chervyakov.
Understanding the most effective solutions for protecting and optimising the performance of steel plant machinery is particularly important given almost a quarter of operators (24%) have experienced at least 10 percent of their machinery being offline due to unscheduled downtime during the last 12 months. The survey was conducted by international research agency 2Europe and included interviews with primary metal plant operators in Germany, Italy, Russia, Sweden and Turkey.