ILMA is one of several lubricant manufacturer organisations advancing members’ interests throughout the globe, either by lobbying government, providing services and support, educating the public, or maintaining a favourable business environment. Comparable organisations include the United Kingdom Lubricant Association (UKLA) – representing lubricant producers in Britain, The Technical Association for the European Lubricants Industry (ATIEL), and the Union of the European Lubricants Industry (UEIL).
Perhaps surprisingly, Asia lacks a single collective voice. Several small local trade associations exist, active in individual member countries, however there is currently no organisation advancing the combined interests of Asian lubricant manufacturers, and no infrastructure for co-operation throughout the region. This, despite Asia-Pacific playing an increasingly prominent role in the global lubricants market. 46% of worldwide finished lubricant volume, and 43% of base stock demand originates in the Asia-Pacific region, according to Geeta Agashe, an industry consultant who spent 19 years at Kline Group. Agashe suggests Asia is now the “epicentre of the global lubricants industry.”
In an accelerating international market, a voice for Asia is important. Now is an “opportune time” for the Asian lubricant industry to unite around unprecedented challenges such as manufacturing advancement, maintaining quality alongside speed to market, external threats, and an increasingly regulated environment.
During the Appreciation Dinner at the recently completed F+L Week 2017 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Singapore, I formally announced the establishment of an Asian Lubricant Manufacturers Union (ALMU) to representatives from leading lubricant companies in the Asia-Pacific region, and indeed the world. The new organisation endeavours to become “the principal voice of the Asian lubricants industry.”
Currently in the formative stage of development, ALMU represents the combined knowledge and expertise of lubricant manufacturers throughout the Asian region, including independent lubricant manufacturers, national oil companies and major oil companies.
ALMU will focus on three specific areas. To establish itself as the trusted voice of the Asian lubricants industry, the organisation will look to establish close working relationships with Asian governments and affiliated agencies, and to align with national and international associations sharing comparable interests. In doing so, the organisation hopes to promote a favourable public perception of the Asian lubricants sector. Discussions are already underway with several ‘like-minded’ bodies on establishing mutually beneficial affiliations.
Secondly, ALMU will undertake to support the development of high-quality lubricant products. The association will use its influence to remove barriers to innovation and the production of quality lubricants, whether regulatory, knowledge-based, or practical issues.
ALMU’s primary positioning is to bridge the gap between policy, research and industry practice. As such, ALMU will endeavour to provide input to technical bodies on behalf of members, and identify, monitor, report and respond to public policy issues affecting the Asian lubricants industry. Encouraging collaboration from lubricant companies will more effectively advance our collective interests.
Activity will also include promoting industry best practices and guidance on ethical standards throughout the region, and enabling (non-competitive) collaboration between individuals and companies to further support innovation and growth.
Perhaps most importantly, delivering exceptional value to members is a guiding principle. While the value proposition for ALMU will evolve over time, central to member services is the creation of a strong organisational structure that caters to the needs of all members, the delivery of an effective networking environment that nurtures member participation, and protecting and advancing member interestsin industry-wide issues.
ALMU will also look to develop and implement effective education and communication initiatives to delineate advice, news, legislative change, and encourage professional development. ALMU will act as a ‘clearing house’ for the distribution of technical knowledge.
Later this year, we aim to form an initial steering committee, define an organisational structure, and confirm the association’s headquarters. We hope to be in a position to accept memberships later this year.
The communication program and ongoing calendar of activities will likely commence in early 2018. We plan to have the first ALMU meeting in conjunction with F+L Week 2018, which will be held in Macao, from 6-9 March 2018. An exhibition is one of the early initiatives being planned by ALMU, with a target date of November 2018, likely to be held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
For more information on ALMU or to register for ongoing updates visit www.alma2018.org
Vicky Villena-Denton is Editor-in-Chief and CEO of F&L Asia Limited headquartered in Hong Kong. She started covering the oil industry in 1984, after completing her Master’s in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. Since 1992, she has been based in Asia-Pacific, from where she reports on the global fuels and lubricants industry. She initiated the first Fuels and Lubes Asia Conference in 1995 in Singapore, the industry’s premier annual event in the region, which has been dubbed F+L Week since 2010.