Interview with Robert Heuberger, Director of Sales & Marketing EMEA, GRACO

What is your role and responsibility within Graco and how does it fit within the wider lubricant industry?

My background is mechanical engineering and economics which I studied at the DHBW in Stuttgart, Germany. After university I started in sales working for different companies in different sectors and areas joining Graco in 2013.

Graco is a multi-national manufacturing company designing, manufacturing and distributing systems and equipment used to move, measure, control, dispense, and spray fluid and powder materials. Our equipment is used in manufacturing, processing, construction and maintenance industries. In 2020 our revenue grew to $ 1.650 billion generated with a global team of around 3.700 employees with locations in 12 countries. 

I joined Graco as Business Development Specialist for the Lubrication Equipment Division which sells equipment for use in vehicle servicing. The Lubrication division also offers systems, components and accessories for the automatic lubrication of bearings, gears and generators in industrial and commercial equipment, compressors, turbines and on- and off-road vehicles.

During my last 8 years I covered different regions and held various positions within the Lubrication Division which I am now leading since end of 2020 for the EMEA region.

Graco offers a full range of quality equipment to meet the varying needs within vehicle maintenance and repair. Talk us through how this is beneficial to your customers?

We supply pumps, hose reels, meters, valves and accessories for use by fast oil change facilities, service garages, fleet service centers, automobile dealerships, auto parts stores, truck builders and heavy equipment service centers. Besides that we developed an innovative wireless fluid management system called Pulse Pro for vehicle and fleet service. The Pulse Pro system provides forward-thinking service operations with the insight, control and analytics needed to simplify decisions and drive profitability in the age of the seamlessly connected shop.

Our Pulse Pro system will increase the transparency of lubricant dispenses in each workshop as it automatically monitors every drop, every time. With its integration to popular Dealer Management Systems the captured data can be shared with key stakeholders quickly and as an optional part of the system you can also monitor your fluid inventory and schedule refills to minimize delays and excessive costs.

The other part of our lubrication equipment division designs, develops and distributors automatic lubrications systems. Those systems reduce maintenance needs and down time and extend the life of the equipment. Industries served include gas transmission, petrochemical, pulp and paper, mining, construction, agricultural equipment, food and beverage, material handling, metal manufacturing, wind energy and oil and natural gas.

A typical automatic lubrication system usually consists of following four main components:

  • The pump which stores and dispense the lubricant.
  • Metering valves which dispense the right amount of lubricant to the right place.
  • A controller which activates the pump and
  • Accessories such as mounting hardware and monitoring devices.

These components are used to automatically lubricate the lubrication points on a machine to reduce friction, reduce wear, absorb shock, reduce heat, minimize corrosion and seal out contamination.

As a result our customers benefit from an increased efficiency of their equipment, increased safety and improved process reliability.

What innovations are you seeing in the automotive industry that is exciting for the future of the lubricant industry?

As mentioned before our equipment is used in many different industries – one is related to automotive but it is also used in general manufacturing, on off-road equipment, in workshops, in processing plants and many other areas. Looking at all those different industries we in general see that our end-users are more and more looking into automation and data collection.

Automation is used to drive efficiency, improve process reliability and increase safety for the operator. This is an area where we have been active since many years with our automatic lubrication systems.

The increasing interest in data collection on the other hand gives equipment manufacturers like Graco the opportunity to develop innovative products which go beyond transferring and dispensing fluids. One example is our fluid management system Pulse which I mentioned earlier. Another innovative product related to this which we launched recently is the Graco Lubrication Controller – called GLCx – which is used to control automatic lubrication systems. It provides real-time system reporting as it can for example monitor lubrication and pressure levels via a mobile app. This app can also be used to configure settings, track history and share important diagnostics.

To summarize I am overall excited that the industry is asking for more innovative products as innovation has always been part of our brand promise and we usually spend around 4.3 % of our annual sales in research and development.

Sustainability, low CO2 emissions and environmental issues are at the forefront of every industry now, what is Graco doing to contribute to the global initiative of lowering carbon emissions?

Indeed – reducing CO2 emissions and environmental issues is important and is getting more and more attention in all industries across the globe. 

Obviously all Graco locations comply with all applicable environmental regulations which has always been the case. Besides that enable our products our customers to reduce their use of material and energy and improve quality.

What attracted you to being an advisory board member for Lubricant Expo and what are you looking forward to seeing at the show?

In the past 8 years being with Graco I have been able to speak with customer in more than 50 countries about their lubrication practices, their experience and their challenges.

Over this time I recognized that the importance of lubrication is still underestimated. Even though, studies show that more than 54 % of all bearing failures are related to lubrication. This can have a huge impact on the productivity of the end-users as a bearing failure mostly translates into a costly shutdown of a machine.

The lubricant expo – being a free to attend event, focusing on lubricants and lubrication equipment and attracting visitor around the globe will help us to further spread this knowledge and help our partners and customers to improve their operations.

Lubricant Expo is Europe’s first free to attend exhibition and conference dedicated to the lubricant’s industry, what benefits do you think exhibitors and attendees will get from attending the show?

Looking at the concept of the Lubricant Expo I believe that this closes a gap of current events by connecting lubricant solution providers and the end-user in a unique way. Combining all the experts from different sectors I am sure everybody who attends this event – exhibitor and visitor – will learn something valuable they can use in their day to day business.