Page 1: Introduction
Achieving competitive advantage is not easy, particularly in global markets. Businesses that do well in these markets need to be able to use their systems, technologies and knowledge effectively across the whole of the organisation and respond to local people, cultures and different ways of working.
One such organisation that uses its knowledge and expertise to achieve competitive advantage is IMI. IMI is a global engineering group involving many different engineering specialities. It is recognised worldwide for its innovation, expertise and global service and sells engineering solutions in over 50 countries to match customer needs.
IMI’s competitive advantage comes from combining the knowledge and skills of its people with an in-depth understanding of what its customers want and need. IMI’s strengths of expertise and innovation differentiate it in the markets it serves.
IMI operates in a B2B (business to business) environment, providing tailored products and services to companies. These include large household names such as Chevron, Shell, Volvo Trucks, General Motors, Coca-Cola and McDonalds, as well as smaller niche companies dealing in specialised equipment or building materials.
Products and services
The company has a long history of working in valve and fluid engineering technology. It uses this expertise to design and develop products to control the flow of liquids or gases for organisations in a wide range of markets. These include nuclear, oil and gas, medical devices and the food and drink industry. By providing specialised products and services, IMI adds value for customers and helps them, for example, to reduce carbon emissions or improve energy efficiency.
The business spans five areas or ‘platforms’, most of which rely on IMI’s core skills and competencies in valve and fluid engineering:
- Fluid Power – develops precision-engineered valves to control air or fluid flow in many industries. Examples of applications include ventilators and anaesthesia machines; compressed air systems for train door control; and valve solutions for controlling emissions on heavy duty trucks.
- Severe Service – develops specialised valves to control the flow of steam, gas or fluids in heavy industries such as nuclear, oil and gas, and petrochemicals. These industries require the highest levels of safety, operating in conditions of extreme pressure and temperature.
- Indoor Climate – produces valve solutions for heating and cooling systems to reduce energy consumption, for example, thermostatic valves for radiators or energy efficient heating systems for office blocks such as the Shard in London.
- Beverage Dispense – provides cooling and dispensing equipment for drinks such as carbonated soft drinks and smoothies for retailers, restaurants and hotels.
- Merchandising – develops innovative displays for shops to influence consumer buying decisions.
This case study looks at how IMI has developed its strategy of ‘Engineering Advantage’, combining its skills and knowledge, customer insight and innovation to achieve global market leadership.