TAIF-SM — in tandem with consumers: oils for specific request as the secret of success
In the package of proposals of the only company in Russia that produces polyalphaolefins, there are already more than 500 proper names of lubricants, at least 2,300 more are planned
Motor and transmission oils for passenger cars, trucks and commercial vehicles and special equipment, all kinds of industrial oils: TAIF-SM is able to develop and produce lubricants for all kinds of tasks. The current consumers of the company's products have already made sure of this. Everything one needs for success: a clearly formulated task, information about the equipment that needs lubrication, and its operating conditions. About how important it is for the company to work in tandem with its consumers — in the material of Realnoe Vremya.
Becoming market leader in less than 3 years
Today it is hard to believe that, in fact, 3 years ago, Taif Lubricants brand was little known to anyone. In 2019, after TAIF Group bought the idle lubricants production complex, created back in 2003 as a joint project of Nizhnekamskneftekhim and Tatneft, the capacities were seriously modernised, and already in December 2020, the company shipped the first batch of products.
Further, progress was increasing: if at the start of work, the company was ready to offer consumers only about 40 types of products, by the time the production was put into commercial operation, it had had about 170 brands of oils and lubricants in its assets, by the end of 2021, there were already over 250, at the end of 2022 — 330, and in the first half of 2023, there are already more than 500.
“Two and a half to three years ago, in fact, we were just starting our active work. At that time, it was difficult for a new brand to enter a large and highly competitive market. We were gaining experience and, perhaps, the development of the final product at the request of the consumer was then somewhat slower, due to the need to develop a large product portfolio. But, I would like to emphasise that the final high-quality product with the required parameters and in the required volumes, which was requested by our customers through our distributors, we gave then and deliver today — exactly within the agreed time," said Sergey Agabekov, the deputy director general for science of TAIF-SM PLC, in an interview with Realnoe Vremya.
In 2022, the company successfully debuted in the republican and federal quality competitions: three products under the Taif Lubricants brand were awarded with diplomas of the laureate.
The plans for the foreseeable future are to increase the total number of names of lubricants in the company's product line to 3 thousand types. That is, to focus as much as possible on the production of “special lubricants”.
Own R&D centre and work in tandem with customers
The development of recipes at TAIF-SM is handled by its own R&D Centre (Research and Development Center). It was created in parallel with the formation of the company. The Centre has been moved to new separate squares and is the subject of special pride of TAIF-SM and especially of Sergey Agabekov:
“We have collected unique samples of equipment here, which in the Russian Federation (at least until now I have not heard about it), perhaps no one else has," he shared in the interview with Realnoe Vremya. “Of course, both our R&D Centre in Kazan and the laboratory in Nizhnekamsk are unique not only and not so much with equipment, but with the people who work in them.
A team of six people is directly involved in the development of new oil formulations in Kazan. The apparent small number of staff is compensated by the high professionalism of employees and automation of most of the processes. And, according to Sergey Agabekov, the company has a reason to be proud. The possibilities of TAIF-SM R&D Centre, which is headed by Sultan Shamsutdinov, a graduate of the Gubkin Russian State University of Oil and Gas, are almost limitless:
“If we talk about the vast majority of lubricants that are used in volume, in mass equivalent, then we can reproduce 99,9% of the oils that are used in the Russian Federation. This 0,1% is some kind of special lubricants that are created on raw materials that are not available in the Russian Federation. But, again, we will be able to produce it, we have the technology if we get the raw materials from our Asian partners," Sergey Agabekov shared with the journalist.
But the possibilities of the scientific and applied component of the company are not limited to this either.
“Wise people today refuse these imported products. We see these processes on the example of huge, including Tatarstan, productions in a variety of industries. Large enterprises and holdings tend to switch to a domestic manufacturer. If we talk about the task of completely replacing the entire wide range of lubricants used by large enterprises, then in Russia only we can do it on such a scale. I am also talking about the price/quality/timing ratio. I cannot say that we are able to import all 100% of lubricants used on our planet, but we will be able to produce 95-97%, including highly specific ones, for example, those used in the aerospace industry. In the premium segment of high-tech oils, where production is difficult and volumes are relatively small (which is not too interesting for large manufacturing companies), we have already successfully replaced most of the brands that have left the Russian market," said the deputy director general for science of TAIF-SM PLC.
And this work, through an extensive dealer network, is carried out in cooperation with the consumers of lubricants themselves — Sergey Agabekov emphasises:
“The client sets a task for the distributor, who redirects it to us. An example: the client understands that there is no analogue of the product he needs in Russia today. The one that goes through parallel imports does not always meet the stated requirements. In a complex petrochemical or oil refining production, where an hour of operation of a different compressor costs many millions of rubles, the risk is unacceptable. Specialists of TAIF-SM R&D Centre are ready to offer a full range of services: from the development of oils, to production, delivery, quality control, and, if necessary, technological support during pilot operation. Our Centre studies in-depth each component and finished oil compositions, going through a very wide range of characteristics, and based on such analytics, we provide the client with a detailed report on how much and in what our oil is better than analogues.
One of the distributors, and with federal powers, is the company in Nizhny Novgorod — S-Technics.
“As a separate direction “Ready-made (commodity) lubricants” in our company was created in 2020. We used to, let's say, supply “lubricants too.” In 2021, we singled out the Energy industry. Since 2022, this has become the main line of business, and S-Technics, together with TAIF-SM, have begun active joint work on the development of the oil sector for energy. On August 16, we signed an agreement with TAIF-SM, and already in October 2021, we had the first project — Glazovskaya CHP with SGT-600 gas turbine units, where the Hungarian brand was replaced," Ivan Stepankov, the head of the Ground Gas Turbines direction at S-Technics PLC, told Realnoe Vremya.
Now the company's list of successful projects includes dozens of power generation facilities. The CHP mainly offers ready-made products: a wide range of mineral (oil) and PAOM solutions for turbine and compressor units. At the same time, like all TAIF-SM distributors, S-Technics is always ready for a dialogue on the issues of refining lubricants or creating new products for specific requests:
“The product from TAIF-SM is offered of very, very high quality. At the same time, we always mean that the client may need something special. The manufacturing company has the capabilities to solve such problems. Moreover, we ourselves, and for free, conduct selective monitoring at customer sites to evaluate the performance of lubricants during operation. We take samples, TAIF-SM makes analyses in its R&D Centre with the issuance of a conclusion about what is happening with the oil. Customers get the opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of using domestic lubricants and, no less importantly, they see that on behalf of the manufacturer we control the processes and are always ready for feedback," said Ivan Stepankov.
Among the unique orders already implemented by the company are a package solution for Arctic hydraulics, compositions for racing cars, special heat carriers on PAGs, the development of a special non-combustible oil for turbine control systems for Ural turbine plants (field tests of this product are just taking place in May 2023). Our specialists were able to solve the non-trivial task of creating a special ash composition for compressors that supply air to mines near Arkhangelsk. Another thing to be proud of is a special coolant for drilling metals to a large (up to several metres) depth. Dozens of types of lubricants have been developed for strategic components of key equipment of a number of large Russian production facilities. And this is only a small part of the successfully implemented projects.
Task for the current year: to increase production by one and a half times
According to the speed of implementation of the task: from the development of a new composition to the start of its production on an industrial scale, TAIF-SM has no competitors, Sergey Agabekov is sure:
“We can produce oil in 2 months — this is the shortest way if the customer is confident in us and does not require additional tests. In 4 months — this is the average way, with a standard block of tests. But if the customer asks us to conduct pilot tests, then only they can go up to a year. And these are, as a rule, oils that work at strategically important nodes, in the work of which the client himself must be 100 percent sure. A good, responsible customer today does not pursue imports, he will insist on a domestic product and conduct an OPI in the same conditions in which the previous oil worked, including in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the replacement. For example, PAO-based oil is more expensive than conventional oil, but due to that it works many times longer, the economic benefit of replacement is achieved. The justification of economic efficiency is also done by our team.
The growing needs of customers are pushing production to increase production capacities. An additional reactor with a capacity of 1 tonne has recently been put into operation, which has significantly expanded the company's capacities in the manufacture and shipment of small volumes of special lubricants.
Plans for the foreseeable future are even more extensive:
“Now the production capacity is about 30 thousand tonnes a year for lubricants. We have several projects for the further development of the company, in particular, this year we plan to implement a project to increase capacity by one and a half times — up to 45 thousand a year. TAIF's approval, as far as I know, has already been received for this. To solve the problem, additional reactors will need to be installed, and this will not require too much investment: there are two ready-made ditchs on the production site where we can put tanks. The most difficult thing is to start: to put the reactor under the foundation, and the foundation is already ready. That is, the plant is ready for expansion," said Sergey Agabekov.
We will tell you more about successful projects, the geography of product deliveries and separately about such a direction as industrial oils and lubricants in the following materials.
PAOM — synthetic base oils based on polyalphaolefins (PAO). Synthesised from ethylene, they have an equal molecular structure, complete absence of impurities, very high oxidative stability and a high viscosity index (synthetic oils).
An interesting fact is that initially PAOM-based lubricants were created for aviation, where the operation of equipment occurs at significant temperature differences — from high plus to serious negative values. PAOM with a solidification threshold up to 60°C below zero and the ability to maintain working viscosity at high temperatures proved to be the best choice. Besides, PAOMS retain chemical stability during operation, practically do not evaporate and have high viscosity at high temperatures.
Today, polyalphaolefin oils are actively in demand for passenger cars, including racing equipment, for heavy-duty vehicles operating under constant load and in the conditions of the Far North. PAOM have proven themselves well in production, ensuring reliable operation of various industrial equipment. The scope of use of PAOM is actively expanding. Polyalphaolefin base oils are an environmentally friendly product.
The only manufacturer of basic synthetic oils based on PAO is TAIF-SM PLC.