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People have a tendency to look at the past through rose-tinted glasses and reminisce about the good old days. But when it comes to the oil and lubrication industry, Jane Carland, Castrol’s General Manager Australia and New Zealand and an industry veteran of three decades, has no such illusions.
“In fact, we just keep moving forward with better quality fuels and better quality lubricants. Our customers have become more sophisticated,” she tells The CEO Magazine. “They’re innovating all the time, so we need to keep ahead of the technology curve. It’s that whole piece that nothing ever stays the same, so it is just a continual process of change.
“There’s no point looking back because you just can’t go back. You’ve just got to keep looking to the horizon and think, ‘What’s next?’”
When Carland first joined the industry in 1992, fuel was of a far lower quality with much higher emissions. But now, she is dealing with some of the cleanest fuels available in the modern world.
Carland joined Castrol from Shell three years ago as Sales Director for Mining and Industrial and was promoted after a year to take responsibility for the company’s Australia and New Zealand operations. Carland felt drawn to Castrol, which is number one in the lubricant market and available everywhere from service stations to car dealerships, by its pioneering spirit and reputation for quality and performance.
“Castrol’s renowned for its portfolio of premium products and services and its customer-centric approach,” she says. “Combine this with the company’s sustained track record of innovation and technological leadership, and the fit was just right.”
But with electric vehicle (EV) adoption gathering pace, Carland anticipates a definite impact in the future and is already preparing the business for that shift.
“Australia’s got just over 80,000 EVs on the road at the moment, 79 percent of which are full battery, out of a total car parc of 20 million or so,” she says.
“It’s a very small drop in the ocean, but we certainly see a future where there’ll be a much bigger uptake in EVs. We’ve got products ready for those vehicles, and we’re working with original equipment manufacturers globally to ensure we’ve got factory seals on those.”
At present, 25 percent of the lubricant market in Australia and New Zealand is in the passenger car market, with the remaining 75 percent in the big industrial and B2B sectors.
“They’re often harder to not only decarbonize but to electrify,” she says.
The alternatives that may be more readily adopted in those areas could include hydrogen, biofuels and other energy alternatives, where lubrication can still play a part.
For example, Castrol is already a leader in providing turbine fluids and greases in the wind sector.
“We have about 35 percent market share globally, and we would have that here in Australia,” Carland says.
The company also has products tailored to robotics and fully synthetic products for the mining sector which means customers need to use less to keep their machinery and vehicles working for longer hours.
“It also helps with some of the labor challenges they face around getting people in to change lubricants or grease,” she continues.
Then there are the flow-on benefits from a sustainability point of view.
“We’ve also offset the carbon impact of our lubricants through BP Target Neutral,” she says. “Looking forward, we are also working on ways to reduce the carbon impact of our business that actually make more fundamental changes, not just in our supply chain, but in our product.”
That commitment extends through the chain, from product performance to the raw materials that go into those products to make them more sustainable, including packaging.
With a 24 percent market share across both Australia and New Zealand, Castrol’s local business is worth more than circa US$300 to US$350 million in revenue, Carland shares. The company continues to manufacture in Australia with plants and laboratories in Melbourne and Perth, with the majority of its business direct to customers and users.
“Castrol is one of only a few suppliers that offers locally manufactured lubricants,” she says. “We’ve likely got one of the biggest footprints, and we’re continuing to invest.”
Defending this position and continuing to grow is on Carland’s agenda, with Castrol’s people a pivotal part of this plan.
As General Manager, Jane oversees a team of 250 and prides herself in creating a workplace where people are empowered, respected, supported and valued.
“We have got an amazing team that have been in the business for a long time in many cases,” she expands, adding that she sees even greater potential for growth as customers transform their businesses and way of life.
“People may feel as though that this is sort of an industry that is going to slowly disappear, but I have a completely different view,” she reflects. “We’re a business with a strong foundation and an inspiring ambition underpinned by our powerful brands, differentiated technology and strong relationships.”
As Castrol’s next chapter unfolds, Carland says it’s looking beyond lubricants and products and recognizing the important role services and innovative solutions will play in the industry.
“The people at Castrol believe that we’re ready for tomorrow with changed products, strong relationships and evolved technology,” she says.
“I believe we will continue to deliver more for our customers and be there for them as they go through this energy transition.”