Most two-wheeler oils are future-ready: Sandeep Kalia, Valvoline

In a conversation with Sandeep Kalia, the Managing Director of Valvoline Cummins Pvt Ltd India, we get to know how different BS6 engine oils are compared to BS4 oils and how Valvoline dealt with the pandemic with an employee-first approach.

By:Updated: Sep 27, 2021 10:51 AM
sandeep kalia interview

Engine oil plays an important role in the life of an automobile. It is an essential element in keeping the engine and its components well lubricated. As engine building technology progresses, so does oil. With emission norms getting stricter in India, oil manufacturers have to keep pace, and with the current BS6 norms in India, lubrication needs to be on par.

To understand more about how technology has moved on in the lubrication business, Express Mobility speaks to Sandeep Kalia, the Managing Director of Valvoline Cummins Pvt Ltd India, to understand how BS6 engine oil is different compared to BS4. We also get to know the type of safety precautions Valvoline took to keep its employees safe during the pandemic.

How is BS VI engine oil different compared to BS IV engine oil?

As we know, vehicle emission norms have been getting stricter in order to reduce air pollution, this has necessitated continuous changes and improvements in engine hardware. Consequently, engine oil companies  are progressively introducing lubricants with newer specifications to suit the needs of evolving engines.

For example, in commercial vehicles, to meet the mandated steep reduction in pollutants viz. Particulate Matter (PM) and Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) in BS VI over BS IV; OEMs have incorporated many After Treatment Devices (ATDs) in tail pipes such as Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) and also Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC), Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR), etc. To properly lubricate the new design engines and also be compatible with DPF; BS VI oil comes with a totally new chemistry known as Low Ash chemistry meeting the new API CK-4 standard. In this way, these are different from conventional Mid/High Ash oils for BS IV engines.

How much investment has gone into making the new BS-VI oil and what’s the production capacity?

Valvoline is a global MNC with presence in more than 100 countries with over 150 years of continuous innovation credentials. As a result, at a global level, we already had suitable Low Ash engine oil for Euro VI engines.

In India,  Valvoline spent several million dollars in adapting the globally available oil to suit local OEMs and unique operating conditions prevalent in India. We conducted field and engine testing on our candidate BS VI oil with our JV partner Cummins and various other Indian and foreign OEMs to perfect the technology and fulfill needs of the Indian market. Now, we can say Valvoline has the best in class, most robust low ash oil for BS VI engines in India.

Being a JV partner, we get an unique opportunity to co-develop our engine oil with Cummins for Indian conditions that involves prolonged engine testing and also widespread field testing on vehicles. This differentiates our engine oil with other lubricant players.Suitable changes were made to our manufacturing facility near Mumbai to produce BS VI oil on a large scale. We are supplying BS VI oil for both Factory Fill and Service Fill to many leading OEMs in India.

Do you see a slowdown in BS-IV engine oil demand?

BS VI was introduced in India in April 2020, demand was muted due to low mileage being driven as a result of the Covid pandemic. We will see these vehicles coming out of workshops in the coming years. At that point in time, we may see a significant shift towards BSVI oils as large fleet operators would prefer one single grade of oil for all engines (BSVI and prior). We witnessed a similar trend in the past as well, whenever engines have evolved due to changes in emission norms.

What happens if a consumer uses BS IV oil in a BS VI and vice versa?

BS IV oil should not be used in a BS VI engine. For example, in commercial vehicles, BS VI oils are backward compatible. It means BS VI oils can be used for BS IV or prior engines. On the other hand, prolonged use of BS IV oil (Mid/High Ash oil) in BS VI engines will damage the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) which is a critical component. This will be an irreversible damage to the after treatment system and will lead to expensive replacement of damaged DPF, costly engine repair & downtime.

Is there a price increase for the BS6 engine oil for two-wheelers and what grades (synthetic, semi-synthetic, etc.) are available for the same?

As far as Two Wheelers are concerned, the BS6 emission norms were achieved by adopting an electronic engine with a complex catalytic converter in the tailpipe by the OEMs. Most of our two-wheeler oils are future ready. Our motorcycle oils (MCO) are already meeting advanced API SN and JASO specifications to ensure compatibility with catalytic converters. Also, our MCOs are mostly semi-synthetic and synthetic in nature to withstand higher operating temperatures and provide all-round protection. As Valvoline two wheeler oils were already BS6 ready, no upgradation and hence no price change was required for BS6.

How have you dealt with the pandemic and how was the production affected?

The pandemic led to limited availability of transportation due to shortage of drivers, restricted production due to government restrictions, limited supplies from packaging material suppliers, managing vessels and most importantly impacted employee safety. Reinforcing COVID19 appropriate behaviour and setting up required infrastructure at plant and across warehouses were the first steps to deal with the pandemic. Next was to secure supplies and constant communication with vendors, customers and employees. We are happy to say, with an all-inclusive and people first approach, we were able to meet market demands with minimal or no disruption.

What are the new procedures in place with respect to manufacturing due to the pandemic?

First and foremost, while we were all adapting to the new normal, we decided to follow a simple philosophy of keeping our people – employees, partners, extended ecosystem and their families, first. This principle was the genesis of our  ‘Suraksha First’ campaign under which we implemented various policies and initiatives across the organization.  Specifically for manufacturing, we ensured the following:

  • New safety practices at manufacturing location
    • Thermal screening, regular hand wash and 100% mask compliance
    • Biometric attendance replaced by face detector
    • Periodic sanitization of workplace and employee transportation
    • Vaccination drive for employees and family
    • Isolation of first shift employees from second shift to eliminate contact
    • Employee transportation with 50% capacity to ensure social distancing
    • Canteen schedule to maintain social distancing between employees
  • Workforce safety protocols
  • Flexible workforce to accommodate production ramp-ups or slowdowns
  • Implemented remote working policy for part of plant staff
  • Improved visibilities across supply chain to bring agility and speed to serve with increased digital capability.

What steps have you taken to support the larger industry ecosystem during the pandemic?

It has been a difficult and challenging phase for most of us over the last one year or so. We are so grateful to our community of mechanics, drivers and their families who have been at the frontline of this pandemic and have kept the essential services running for the country, at the risk of their own lives. We as an organization pivoted our corporate social responsibilities towards these resilient communities and implemented several initiatives to support them as a small gesture of our gratitude. Over 100,000 Suraksha kits (inclusive of 4 masks and sanitizers) were distributed across the length and breadth of our country by our own teams. We partnered with local police and administration in several cities and covered all major toll-plazas that helped us focus our distribution efforts to drivers. Awareness around Covid appropriate behavior and vaccination benefits continues to be a key engagement pillar for our ecosystem and every day, via our digital platforms,  we connect with thousands of our partners for the same.

Get live Stock Prices from BSE, NSE, US Market and latest NAV, portfolio of Mutual Funds, Check out latest IPO News, Best Performing IPOs, calculate your tax by Income Tax Calculator, know market’s Top Gainers, Top Losers & Best Equity Funds. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Latest Express Mobility News