Lubricants Department 1 /
Lubricants for a New Era
Lubricants are essential to machines, reducing friction between moving parts. The automotive industry represents the largest market for lubricants, and because so much has changed in this area of business, the lubricants industry must also change. Since its establishment 110 years ago, Idemitsu has been selling lubricants that meet the needs of customers and now has 37 manufacturing facilities and 49 sales bases worldwide. Supported by this extensive network, we are able to develop products that meet the needs of a new era, including the production of lubricants for emerging markets, such as electric vehicles. Our advanced technologies, combined with more than a century of experience, allow us to accelerate the evolution of the lubricants industry.
It's All About
“We identify challenges faced by customers, and then create lubricants specifically designed to meet them,” declares Akihito Egawa of the Lubricants Department 1 / Procurement Section. Responsible for procuring the additives used in lubricants, Akihito makes purchases from raw-material providers around the world to ensure a stable, high-quality supply. He and his colleagues make their purchase decisions based on discussions with the marketing and R&D staffs, so they are able to develop lubricants that satisfy current customer requirements. Additionally, they investigate new additives in an effort to reduce costs and enhance performance.
Keeping Customer Businesses
Unexpected situations can arise in the international additives market. In one case, a facility operated by a raw-material supplier experienced a series of accidents, resulting in a shortage that dramatically affected the supply chain. When the supply of lubricants is halted, customer production lines stop running. This is why Akihito’s efforts are so crucial. “My job is to ensure stable procurement,” he states, “no matter what problems might arise.” In constantly changing conditions, he works with his contacts inside and outside the Company. Even in the most challenging circumstances, the knowledge and experience of Akihito and his team assure a stable supply of lubricants that keep our customers’ businesses running smoothly.
Idemitsu’s lubricant sales are currently ranked seventh in the world, and the competition is heated – not only in the Japanese market but around the globe. Relationships with raw-material suppliers are a critical factor in determining the outcome of this competition. “Suppliers do more than just deliver the materials,” Akihito explains. “They are valued partners that grow along with Idemitsu, expanding the business together.” Collaborative relationships that transcend company boundaries are essential to increasing the competitiveness of our products.
Change Is an Opportunity
The automotive industry, our primary market for lubricants, is undergoing a sea change. This necessitates an equally profound change in the business structure of the lubricants industry. For example, when the electric-vehicle market becomes mainstream, many of our current lubricants will be rendered obsolete. Akihito and his team see this as an opportunity. “Idemitsu has accumulated lubricant technologies that can be applied to new fields,” he asserts. Indeed, Idemitsu’s history is one of responding flexibly to changing customer needs: satisfying the demands and supporting the values of a new era is in our DNA.