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FUCHS Lubricants

Keeping things running smoothly

company profile

Keeping things running smoothly Editorial: Tim Hands Production: Emily Woodhall

From expertise in automotive and industrial applications, right through to such specialist sectors as pharmaceuticals and wire rope, FUCHS has grown to become the world’s largest independent lubricant manufacturer, providing a complete service to its diverse and expanding set of customers. Its range spans, among others, engine oils, motorcycle lubricants, agricultural oils and greases, and mining specialty lubricants, while the company’s focus on research and development ensures customers are furnished with the very latest in lubricant innovation.

Due in large part to its 400-strong team of chemists, engineers and specialists in more than 40 laboratories across the world, FUCHS products developed within the last five years generate 70% of its current sales. “To know that there is a huge amount, both of research and development and of technical support, is a real comfort to have from a sales perspective,” states Automotive Market Manager, John Anderson, and it is this commitment to development and innovation that has brought about a significant streamlining of the company’s production operations, as Anderson details: “Firstly, we are overseeing an upgrade to the existing plant facility, where we are talking about three new mixing vessels, each of 30 tonnes. This effectively doubles our production facility there, with our biggest vessel at present only 20


tonnes.” The importance of this particular upgrade hinges on more than merely an improved capacity, however. “With this in place, we are better able to dedicate vessels to different products. In the existing facility, say if we wanted to blend the gear oil we would take the best part of three quarters of a day, then have to flush out everything, and by the time we finish there is no time to start on the engine oil.” While FUCHS is highly skilled at managing the demands of having to constantly switch blends in this way, undoubtedly any innovation which can help curb the time between processes must be welcomed. “A tremendous amount of our time is spent cleaning up after one blend and making ready for the next one. It’s like running a kitchen with an insufficient number of pots,” analogises Anderson, which leads to a great

FUCHS Lubricants

amount of ‘washing up’ in between the preparing of these complex products. “This upgrade means that we will be able to dedicate a vessel to synthetic engine oil, another to normal engine oil, a further vessel to gear oil – and will give us a lot more flexibility in terms of being able to pump out those important products day in day out, with the less important blends taking a back-seat and not slowing down our work. It’s an increase both in the sheer volume we are able to blend, which is way beyond what we need now but will cater for future expansion, and in our flexibility,” he says. These developments have come about for two principal reasons, according to Anderson. “We’ve got some excellent new customers – John Deere and Volkswagen have been with us for some time now and provide a

significant chunk of our custom, but more recently also we’ve gained business with Liebherr, a large mining and crane company, as well as MTU who provide stationary generators. Business of this sort of calibre has brought huge chunks of volume, which means our flexibility and turnaround of orders has to be quicker than ever.” It is FUCHS’s flexibility which has won the company many admirers, in particular with Volkswagen; “For the past year they have rated us as having a 100% success rate with orders placed, and as such we have come out as the best supplier that they have in South Africa, in all categories. We’re being measured here against windscreen and brake pad manufacturers, and we’ve still managed to come up tops. To have a 100% success rate at the customer face is something that we jealously guard, and so the flexibility that we’re introducing is to make


company profile sure that this remains the case.” To move forward and improve from an already so strong position is the challenge that FUCHS now faces, and is tackling eagerly. It is not a move that comes easily, however, and one which requires the full weight of its experience and expertise to implement. “It’s more than 30 years now that we’ve been in our current plant, and

“This upgrade doubles our production facility”


there was a significant cost involved in raising its roof in order to fit in the new vessels. Clearly, this is a significant external piece of building work that had to take place – the roof had to be removed, the vessels put in, and then the roof replaced in a higher position.” Taking place right in the middle of the wettest summer that South Africa has seen for many years, this is further testament not only to FUCHS’s commitment to its development, but also will provide a significant reduction in waste at the plant, to tie in with its ongoing commitment to environmental awareness and sustainable manufacturing. A further key aspect of the FUCHS story is its ongoing support and sponsorship of many different classes of motorcycle racing through its Silkolene brand, a high

Structural Applications Unichem House, 27 Island Circle Riverhorse Valley Business Estate Durban 4017 South Africa Telephone & Fax TEL: +27(0)31 534-6000 FAX: +27(0)31 534-6020 Postal Address P.O. Box 4205 Riverhorse Valley East 4017 Email: Web:

Unichem Services is proud to continue its long-standing service and support to Fuchs Lubricants in South Africa. Through our partnership, Fuchs continues to deliver environmentally friendly, cost reducing and energy saving products to the South African industrial market, and to the end user.

Congratulations to Fuchs Lubricants on their growth and continued success! W O R L D C L A S S P R I N C I PA L S - W O R L D C L A S S P R O D U C TS - W O R L D C L A S S S E R V I C E

performance lubricants range designed on the track to ensure the highest in performance and protection. “We have found, in our motorcycle products, that there is a huge differentiation between us and our competitors. Particularly with performance motorcycle; the user will feel the difference in a change of product – much more so

“For the past year Volkswagen has rated us as the best supplier that they have in South Africa, in all categories”

companies for their dealings, where the actual driver may not even feel the difference.” Growth in motorcycle marketing products has been vast, and this strong range has supported the universal growth of the FUCHS brand, as Anderson concludes: “We tend to find that the lead riders will come to us seeking that ‘fancy product’ that they have seen used in last year’s bike being so successful, knowing that they need the very best in order to compete. We support that, give them some stickers to wear on their bike and clothing, and the whole thing makes a convenient circle whereby everyone benefits from the partnership.”


than with any other vehicle.” With this being an expensive hobby, the market for the product will be extremely specific, owners of construction or transport companies, or of factories which are producing machines. “If we can reach these people and show a differential in how we’re treating the machine he uses for leisure, this may well lead then to a decision to use a FUCHS product for the transport used by these

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