Creating a Path to Unlock Innovation: Lubrizol Proposes to Change the Industry Model

The Lubrizol Corporation presented its view on “Unlocking Industry Innovation: Time to Change the Model?” at the Biannual Detroit Advisory Panel on April 19, 2016. Dan Sheets, senior vice president and president of Lubrizol Additives, spoke about the obstacles around the processes for setting and managing lubricant specifications in North America, including the several forces that are inhibiting the industry’s ability to deliver marketable benefits and value to all.

With an accelerating regulatory requirement to improve air quality and lower greenhouse gases in North America and around the world, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are looking at many vehicle solutions. Several of these solutions have consequences for the lubricant technology necessary to protect and enable their equipment. The lubricants themselves can also contribute to reducing emissions and improving fuel economy with their broad-based use. The new frontier of lubricants has fluids that are essentially lower in viscosity and must deliver lasting fuel economy benefits and protection over the whole drain cycle.

Unfortunately, the current industry specification development process is too complex, slow, expensive and yield minimum quality specifications. It prevents the deployment of innovative solutions. “It took eight years to get 0W-20s to the position of EPA allowing OEMs to use them for certification,” Sheets explained. “The industry cannot keep up with the required pace of change.”

Beyond the industry processes, other forces are in play. OEMs and oil companies are limited on what technologies can be used to certify vehicles. In many cases, the specifications represent minimum quality standards without higher performance options. End-users struggle to understand the performance benefits of what they are buying.

Lubrizol proposed ways to improve the process and is seeking industry support to move forward on improvements. This includes the following measures:

Form a Stakeholder Governance Body that aims to:

  • Streamline specification development
  • Identify fast tracks for new technologies
  • Form and fund an evergreen test development organization
  • Engage regulatory agencies to incent the use of higher performing products that can enable societal benefits today
  • Build tiered specifications to give consumers performance-based options
  • Define paths to educate consumers on lubricant performance

The conference was attended by representatives of major OEMs, Tier 2 suppliers, oil companies, testing laboratories and additive companies.

Lubrizol will take actions now to progress this initiative starting with engaging oil companies, OEMs, regulatory agencies, testing organizations, other additive companies and end user representative groups to collect perspective and form the stakeholder governance body. Our initial goal is implement meaningful changes after the licensing of ILSAC GF-6 and PC-11 engine oil specifications.

To receive a copy of the presentation given by Dan Sheets, please contact James Baldwin.

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