Exclusive Interview of Mr. Praveen Nagpal, Chief Technology Officer, Shell Lubricants India with Energy Outlook Magazine

Praveen Nagpal, Chief Technology Officer, Shell Lubricants India

EO: What have you found most striking since joining Shell India and what have been your focus areas since the beginning?


Mr. Praveen Nagpal: Shell has long history in India from the days of Burmah Shell and now present as Shell (Shell India markets Private Limited) in India for more than a decade now, producing a wide variety of lubricants to meet customer needs across a range of applications, that include consumer motoring, heavy-duty transport and heavy industries like mining, power generation, construction, metals, cements and general engineering. The most striking thing upon joining Shell Lubricants India has been the company’s relentless focus on achieving excellence across its operations, along with its dedication to give back to the society in every way possible.


Shell Lubricants believes in delivering the best to its partners and customers. It places significant focus on forging partnerships for collaborative research – identifying the customer and partner needs to pioneer innovative, new age solutions with various Indian industries. It further emphasizes on meeting the needs of the customers by providing a range of technologically advanced products and services that are customized to their specific needs, helping increase both their satisfaction and profitability. With a concentrated focus on customer satisfaction, the company has also always heavily focused on technology led innovation and a future ready approach to operations and solutions, paving the way to enhanced consumer centricity.


Additionally, Shell Lubricants has also been committed to positively impact lives, provide premium care to all its partners and supporting ideas for more and cleaner energy for the world.


EO: Shell launches fully synthetic HX8 engine oil in India. How will your new product fit into your product portfolio plan?


Mr. Praveen Nagpal: The Helix HX8 is a fully synthetic motor oil, that is manufactured with 100% synthetic base stock to achieve higher performance levels than semi-synthetic and mineral oils. The motor oil constitutes Flexi Molecule Technology that is designed to adapt to every drive, helping protect engines from the high-pressure challenges that affect vehicle performance. Our product portfolio is designed to primarily deliver fuel efficiency and reduction in emissions. Moreover, the entire Shell Helix Fuel Economy product range is designed to deliver up to 2.5% greater fuel economy with a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions in all engine conditions coming as perfect fit to our product portfolio plan.

We are a customer centric organization, closely observing market trends and understanding the needs and wants of our customers and OEM partners. We have seen the industry demand moving towards synthetics, which has made us strengthen our offerings. In addition to customers, OEM’s are also expressing a growing need for environment friendly engines and energy efficient lubricants. Therefore, seeing the growing demand and future needs HX8 is a right fitment to the product portfolio.


EO: Successful product development follows a solid product development strategy. What are the key areas on which Shell emphasizes to make the product successful?


Mr. Praveen Nagpal: We, at Shell Lubricants always keep our customers and partners at the forefront of all our product and service offerings. With industries advancing towards embracing technologies and equipment maintenance solutions, Shell leads the way by implementing its deep industry knowledge, expertise and resources across operations.


In terms of product development strategy, one of the key focus points remains on understanding the consumers’ needs as well as foreseeing where the industry and consumer requirements are headed. Shell also pays close attention to continually improving its offerings through innovative propositions and by bringing the best of technology that caters to every group of consumers. Embracing technological advancements for state-of-the-art solutions, Shell’s product development strategy seeks to offer customized products and solutions by identifying and anticipating the needs of our customers and partners.


EO: What are some long-range objectives that you have developed in Shell India?


Mr. Praveen Nagpal: Our goal is to provide our customers and partners with superior products and services and best in-class technology that helps our customers in optimizing their Total Cost of Ownership.  Our focused business approach   includes strengthening the areas that we are already present in and identifying new areas for growth. We hope to grow further in areas of operations like fleet and commercial vehicles. We also aim to integrate a strong social purpose into every aspect of our business to create a positive influence in the communities we operate in.


We also aim to further develop our technological knowledge and leapfrog our way towards greater innovation, specifically focusing on artificial intelligence, data consolidation tools, analytics platforms and sensors. Investing and expanding presence in the digital space is also in the center of our attention. We are planning spend around 70% of our total advertising budget on digital expansion including all major social media properties.

In the e-commerce space, Shell has undergone rapid expansion in order to scale up its operations to provide greater access to customers and increase their reach. With India being a focus market for the Shell, we continuously strive to improve our offerings through investment in businesses and other sectors.


EO: Is Shell India working on Conceptual Products which we can see in coming years and which will completely transform the Lubricant Industry?


Mr. Praveen Nagpal: We are proud of our diverse and technologically superior product portfolio which aims to reduce emissions and deliver substantial savings by helping maximise equipment efficiency, prolong vehicle life and reduce downtime. Some of latest products include:

  • The Shell Helix HX8, a fully synthetic motor oil manufactured with 100% synthetic base stock protects vehicle engines and is designed to adapt to every driving condition
  • Shell Advance AX7, an ideal oil for high performance motorbikes is formulated with Shell Active Cleansing Technology that helps ensure that the engine delivers high power and torque, improving control and comfort
  • Shell Omala S5 Wind, a new generation synthetic oil for all generations of wind turbines that offers improved reliability and longer oil life
  • Shell Rimula LD3, offers Dynamic Protection Technology that targets the specific needs of light duty trucks and works to protect against engine wear, commonly found in vehicles in urban driving conditions like stop/start, high idle engine running and variable loads


EO: What are some of the technologies introduced by Shell Lubricants?


Mr. Praveen Nagpal: At Shell, our focus lies on pioneering futuristic technologies and newer methods to incorporate in all our products. Our strong R&D lineage and advanced technological know-how is reflected across our portfolio of emission-reducing products. Some of the advanced technologies applied in our portfolio includes:

  • The patented GTL technology used in base oils which lend themselves to potentially produce energy-efficient formulations by delivering excellent system efficiency; excellent equipment protection; and extended oil life
  • The Flexi Molecule Technology enables engines to adapt to changing engine stresses providing more protection whenever needed
  • Shell PurePlus Technology is a revolutionary process that converts natural gas into crystal-clear base oil with virtually none of the impurities found in crude oil. It produces base oil that provides enhanced viscosity, friction and volatility performance compared to more prominently used traditional base oils. This means it helps extend engine life, reduce maintenance costs, reduce oil consumption, enhance fuel economy and enable better engine cleanliness


In addition, Shell has also developed new groundbreaking technological offerings with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) like the LubeChat. These are designed to offer customized solutions and recommendations to customers. Apart from these, Shell has also worked closely with commercial fleet customers in building sensor-driven data consolidation to improve operational efficiency and safety management for trucks.


EO: How do you see the growth of Shell in India? What are your expectations from the Lubricant Industry in the coming five years?


Mr. Praveen Nagpal: In terms of our current lubricant output in India, the growth rate in the last few years has been around 20% and we expect this to continue as we aggressively plan to expand our business. At present, our production is around 150 million liters, and we expect it to rise by 20% in coming years. We also plan to take our total fuel retail outlets from 100 to 1,000 in the next few years. India is a US$ 2.6 billion lubricant market developing at 2.2% annually and provides us immense opportunities for further growth.  It is one of our top three growth markets and we are making continuous investments in people, processes and technology. There is a lot of scope in the automotive lubricants market and we plan to increase our market share from 5% to 15% along with an increase in our digital spend. We want to serve 100 million local customers with an ambition to become number one in India. 

We also foresee the widespread electrification of the automotive industry which would have a direct impact on the lubricants industry. With the government’s massive push, this is going to be the new face of the Indian automotive sector. Since electric motors don’t require engine oils and lubricants, their demand is expected to decline

However, at Shell Lubricants, we work towards reducing friction in moving parts, and not just offering engine lubrication. Thus, if today we use lubricants, tomorrow we might be reducing friction through data analytics, telematics, sensors, AI, and machine learning. Also, for EVs there is a need for new generation transmission fluids, which provides us with opportunities for new innovations.

EO: As there is a lot of buzz about use of Renewable Source of Energy & E-mobility, how do you see this as a big opportunity for Shell India?


Mr. Praveen Nagpal: For both traditional and renewable energy-generation industries – coal, nuclear, solar and wind –industrial lubricants are key to enhancing equipment reliability and uptime. Lubricants help in increasing productivities of power plants, turbine efficiencies, drive optimum efficiency and even improve natural gas reliability and performance. Shell’s range of commercial lubricants can prolong the lifespan of various equipment, including wind farm turbines, used to generate renewable energy. This presents a huge opportunity for us to further invest and build competency in aiding renewable energy generation.


Electric vehicles are the future of automotive industry and have caught the fancy of automakers and policy makers alike in India and around the world. They do not require fossil fuels and hence are environment friendly as there is less or no gas emissions involved.


Shell Lubricants is involved in reducing friction in moving parts, and not just offering engine lubrication. Instead of using engine lubricants, we could be installing sensors in all parts of an electric vehicle which is able to monitor what part of the car is malfunctioning and other ways of making the EV run more efficiently. We could be running data analytics, telematics, sensors, AI, and machine learning. Also, for EVs there is a need for products like transmission fluids, which provides us with opportunities. Therefore, as a company, we want to fully embrace electrification, because it’s in line with our vision to provide carbon free and energy-efficient solutions.


EO: How does Shell Lubricants integrate an E2E Supply Chain to develop sustainability in its operations in the metals sector?


Mr. Praveen Nagpal: When we talk about End to End supply chain, we see it from the inception. We thus begin with digging, producing ore, transmitting ore to plant. There are several types of equipment used in this process. We can clearly see that customers today look for solutions rather than a product. Customers, OEMs now talk about the operating life cycle cost and several other considerations in the end to end cycle. In the metals industry, starting from mining to end production, we, at Shell, have the right solution, right product offerings and right kind of services, which help customers reduce their total cost of operation and ownership. Within the metals industry, there are different types of applications, which need greases, hydraulic oil, circulating oil or gear oil. Shell solutions for the metal sector include high performance lubricants and innovative services which complement the performance of products, helping customers reducing their cost of operations.

With long-term partnerships with our customers, we are committed towards improving the overall efficiency of their operation and minimize unplanned stoppages. This is the area we are continuously working on for future development. Progressing beyond simply selling Shell Lubricant products and services, to providing a collaborative customer centered service, our focus is to support our partners to reduce their total cost of ownership (TCO) and operation – the total amount spent on industrial equipment, including cost of acquisition and operation over its entire working life, including costs of lost production during equipment downtime.


About Shell Lubricants India

Shell sells 120 million litres of lubricants each year in India, which is the third largest market for the Anglo-Dutch giant globally. As it progresses, Shell Lubricants India is looking at transforming its offerings more from products to services; providing solutions to end to end needs from lube consultancy and training, to lube requirement and procurement.


Industry Leadership – Shell’s focusing significant resources on organizing multiple national Technology Forums across key sectors like Metals, Construction and Infrastructure, Fleet, Aviation and Turbine. These forums provide a platform for all major industry players, vendors and consumers to network and share their own perspectives in the space.


Reducing Total Cost of Ownership – Shell Lubricants is tirelessly working towards addressing maintenance and unplanned equipment downtime for all its partners and customers. With presence across about 25 sectors and a rich portfolio catering to 15 different product categories, Shell believes that using the right product can save up to 30% of the operational cost. Thus, with the right partnership with Shell, the total cost of ownership – cost of equipment acquisition and operation over its entire working life, including the costs of lost production during equipment downtime, is significantly reduced


Embracing technological advancements for state of the art solutions – What Apple’s Siri can do for an iPhone or iPad, Shell’s Shelly can do for a vehicle or machine. The first company to offer solutions using artificial intelligence platforms, Shell has leapfrogged its way as a leader in the innovation space, some which include:


  • LubeChat-an interactive, intuitive, and integrated digital platform designed to offer customized solutions and recommendations
  • POC – another chatbot using the Facebook messenger AI platform for automotive customers
  • Data Consolidation tools-The Company is working closely with commercial fleet customers in building sensor-driven data consolidation to improve operational efficiency and safety management for trucks. It has already partnered with five fleet owners who have 300-500 trucks.

Analytics platform-A data warehouse which integrates ERP data sets and automates them through machine-learning technology to drive diagnostic and predictive analytics. Customized dashboards can be viewed in real time by employees to make more informed business decisions.


About Praveen Nagpal

Praveen Nagpal, Chief Technology Officer, Shell Lubricants IndiaPraveen Nagpal took over as the Chief Technology Officer with Shell Lubricants India from 1st December 2017. Previously, he has served as the Global Product Application Specialist for stationary power engine lubricants in Global Commercial Technology Lubricants organization since 2012. His expertise lies in accelerating business growth and strengthening technology intimacy with Global Key Account and OEMs including Wartsila, GE Jenbacher and Aggreko. Leveraging his strong technical and commercial insights, Praveen has worked on developing technology roadmaps, brand communities and aknowledge transfer system throughout power sector teams globally.

Praveen has also strongly supported the CVP development for value added technical services including Lube Analyst Sensors and optimized Lube Analyst gas engine test suite in addition to being the face of technology in multiple technology forums, sector seminars, white papers and trade articles. He travels far and wide in his role to many a diverse and often high security risk markets and through all of this maintains a strong focus on travel safety and security. He has been recognized as a multiple winner of Commercial Technology Competition – and recently won a VP award for his contribution to power sector business development in Macro-Distributor markets.

He joined the Shell India technical team in 2007 as senior lubricants technical advisor for the power and marine sector contributing to India B2B lubes business growth through his strong technical knowledge and field experience, working with customers including Wartsila, Rolls Royce, Siemens, BHEL, Alstom, Crompton Greaves, Jenbacher, MWM, Gamesa and Winwind. Prior to joining Shell, Praveen worked with leading OEM Wartsila for 12 years in various functions including field service, operation and maintenance and technical services. He lives in India and loves spending his free time with his wife Anju and kids Hetal and Keya and enjoys outdoor sports activities.

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