Page 4: External drivers for growth
Businesses need to take account of and react to what is happening outside the company – the external environment. These environmental factors may be analysed through the acronym SLEPT. These stand for:
- Social factors – for example, the UK’s ageing population is affecting the availability of skills
- Legal factors – regulatory standards or legislation such as Health & Safety might lead to increased training needs
- Economic factors – the current global recession is causing downturn in demand
- Political factors – government initiatives are requiring businesses to address the issues of climate change
- Technological factors – the impact of the internet makes it easier to compare the value of products and services.
These external factors may influence how a business will achieve its strategies. By monitoring the external environment it is possible to identify whether factors represent either an opportunity or a threat to achieving its strategies. IMI has identified four clear global trends within its external environment. These trends are shaping the direction that the business is taking to achieve growth.
1. Climate change
IMI has responded to this global issue by developing products to provide cleaner energy as well as helping organisations to reduce their energy consumption.
IMI is supplying severe service valves into a number of major liquefied natural gas projects (LNG) in Australasia. The demand for LNG has been growing because gas is a much cleaner fuel to use for power generation than coal. IMI has a market-leading position in applications such as anti-surge valves. These valves have to be able to provide very precise control at very low temperatures down to minus 162°C.
2. Resource scarcity
There is a global need to manage resources such as water and energy more efficiently in order to ensure sustainability. IMI is developing a range of engineering solutions to manage the use of energy, water and waste more efficiently. IMI’s innovative engineering has also developed ways of controlling building environments.
In France IMI has developed the country’s first ‘energy positive’ building which produces more energy than it consumes. IMI’s technical skills in valve and fluid control have produced a new pressurisation and heating control system. This allows the building owner to control the temperature of each room depending upon heating requirements. This not only gives better comfort to users, but the building has been designed to reduce energy consumption by 65% compared to buildings constructed under current standards of regulation.
The rapid urbanisation taking place around the world, particularly in emerging markets such as China, requires significant investment in mass transit infrastructure. This is to ensure that the rapidly expanding urban population have reliable transport options to enable them to travel easily around the cities and, of course, to work.
CSR Zhuzhou in China services main line electric locomotive trains. They required a new type of pantograph (the equipment which links the train to the overhead electricity cables) as their existing pantograph could only cope with speeds of up to 200km per hour. IMI’s subsidiary, Norgren, was able to create a new pantograph which could operate effectively at 400km per hour in addition to coping with temperature fluctuations from - 40°C to +80°C – without affecting performance. The new technology and design not only met the high standards of the Chinese Ministry of Rail, but also effectively utilised both standard and bespoke Norgren technology to set it apart from the competition.
4. Ageing population
IMI’s technical expertise is also used to support many different types of medical equipment. As the global population is living longer, more support is needed to keep people healthy. IMI is delivering specialised products to support this.
Shenzhen Mindray Electronic Co Ltd is a developer of medical devices for patient monitoring in China. The company needed a regulator to control the flow of inlet gas for a life support ventilator. This had to meet very strict size dimensions and performance specifications. IMI’s new regulator is 15% lighter and 20% smaller than those previously available, which makes the device more portable and convenient. The new regulator is also 60% quicker to assemble and is 10% cheaper than previous models. This has enabled Mindray to supply more ventilators across China and the world and meet the increasing need for life support systems.