Q: Shell is developing a new technology called IH2. What is this technology all about?
A: In the overall analysis, India has a great potential and Shell is interested to partner with the government, local bodies and OEMs to find out new ways of creating sustainable energy. So IH2 is basically a concept that turns waste to fuel. We have tried this technology in other places around the worlds and it is working. What we are trying to do is go local, pick-up local waste and figure out how to translate that into energy. We have set up a pilot plant in Bangalore and we are using the waste from the Bangalore Municipal Co-operation and converting it into fuel. This is still a pilot project, but it is doing pretty well, which shows our work in the field of sustainable energy. Also with this waste to fuel propaganda, we also have to take care of the norms like how much emissions does it form and the quality of fuel that we produce. So through this project we can create a number of different fuels from municipal waste. This is not the first time that Shell is working on a project of this nature. We have a number of companies and other OEMs that are already working on various projects like these. The main idea here in India is to figure out a way to meet the increasing need for electricity in our country.
Q: Shell has started this #makeinfuturecampaign, how is the response and what are the plans for the future?
A: This was one of the most innovative initiatives Shell has started and it has been quite a success. The idea behind the campaign was to get the local brains to really think for various sustainable energy solutions and share it with Shell. The other idea was to look at what India needs, then pick out the best ideas which could be scaled up to make it viable and viable. It is still in its teething phase and will build up as we go along.
Q: You have developed a Shell concept car. What is happening on that front and where do you see it in the future?
A: The Shell car was a joint venture with Gordan Murray designs which is sponsored by Shell. The idea behind the project was not to get into the automotive sphere, but to showcase that using standard available fuel (any fuel from any station) along with Shell lubricants, how much of a difference is there in fuel efficiency. This showcases that within what exists, you can get so much fuel efficiency. Well, we expect that somebody will think in this direction and will catch on to our idea and design the car better. This will help transform the project into reality. The Shell concept car addresses today’s needs, it is a car that proves using your standard fuel along with Shell lubricants, how much of a difference is made in terms of efficiency and emissions. It was a prototype, we have developed a few and they are running on the road. But it is up to the world to absorb it and take it up.
Q: What goal have you achieved through your ‘Empower’ initiative?
A: So the whole objective of this whole event was to tell our customers and partners that ‘Together anything is possible.’ Through this program, we wanted to work closely with our OEM partners, customers and users to understand how one can reduce the total cost of ownership. All of us own a lot of mechanical equipment from cars to bikes and industries own a lot of machinery as well. Usually, people never believed that lubricants could play a vital role in reducing total cost of ownership. So, our first objective was to showcase our superior technology in terms of lubricants and how it helps reduce total cost of ownership. We are partnering with a lot of OEMs, end customers and industry bodies, who are part of this larger initiative by Shell, so together we can erase the challenges faced by each of our partners be it wear and tear of components, energy efficiency, or replacement of spares. No one from the industry has looked into this either from a lubrication standpoint or a reliability standpoint. So with this initiative (results based on a survey of 1800 customers/Shell users across 7 key markets globally), thanks to the survey, we understood the importance of lubricants. Another area (which we found out through the survey) that heavily depends on lubricants is fleet operations/trucking business. We already have a product out there which delivers fuel efficiency and while the pack says at least 3 per cent improvement in efficiency, all our tests that we have carried out, we have got a figure between 7 to 8 per cent improvement. Just to give you a perspective, we were talking to a fleet owner last month, and he is actually achieving around 15 per cent fuel saving, which means on an average, a truck would be saving an upwards of Rs 1 lakh a year, now multiply that into the number of trucks and you can work out the math. So we talk about cost of ownership as reducing your cost per kilometre.
Q: Shell is doing a lot in terms of natural gas and you wanted to expand base in India. Could tell us a little more on that front?
A: Well natural gas is also a far better and greener fuel in terms of sustainability and in terms of overall global space that it occupies today. We are probably one of the largest sources of natural gas in the country. The intent again is to create an infrastructure around the utilisation of gas. Because gas needs to be transported so you need pipelines and a few thousand kilometers of network to really see that it gets to the correct place, otherwise transportation cost is high. You transport it to the port, and then transport it onward, and then you have to re-gasify it, so all these processes add to the cost. So the idea is to create a one-time cost on infrastructure that will take it forward. At the end of the day you have to look at the impact on environment, so the idea is to create a strong traction for the use of natural gas in India.
Q: Shell is using various digital media platforms to engage with customers. Is this strategy working?
A: So the market is shifting. Look at all of us in the room and even families today, everyone is connected on smartphones, you are getting distant from people who are near you are closer to people who are far away. Digitalisation has pretty much taken over our lives and we as a company would like to be there in that space, or else we will lose out for sure. The best thing about the digital platform is that we can have conversations with people and address their problems and issues or answer their queries on a one to one basis. In terms of products, we can get feedback from our customers on our products and genuine reviews of how the product is performing. Our target is to be the most digitally enabled lubricant brand in the country, connecting our end users to not only to our technical support staff but also to the OEMs as well.
Q: How did this whole idea of brand re-alignment come into play? What was the ideology behind this move?
A: The core idea is to go beyond the idea of selling the lubricant on a rupee/litre basis to a more solution provider basis. This is a partnership where the customer learns and we learn. Globally we have delivered over 150 million dollar savings in the last five years acknowledged by customers. This is only possible through our interactions and technical support we give our customers. So basically what we are trying to do is, when a customer buys a lubricant, he/she has a round-the-clock support system in place to help with whatever problems crop up along the way.
Q: Any new products in the pipeline, especially for the automotive sector?
A: Yes there are but nothing to claim at the moment. As you move up the value chain, you move up the technology ladder, so you keep changing grades and you will get finer grades and more fuel efficient grades and longer lasting grades. We see a great opportunity with BS VI coming in and we are ready to support it in all ways possible.