European motor survey shows growing customer dissatisfaction

Written by: Dean Palmer | Published:

A recent telephone survey of engineers, plant managers, MD's and purchasing managers across more than 100 European motor customer companies, indicates that end-users of integral horsepower motors are dissatisfied with their current motor supplier. Dean Palmer reports

A recent telephone survey of engineers, plant managers, MD's and purchasing managers across more than 100 European motor customer companies, indicates that end-users of integral horsepower motors are dissatisfied with their current motor supplier.

The survey, carried out by market research firm Frost & Sullivan, suggests that a combination of uncompetitive pricing, poor customer service, insufficient technical knowledge and lengthy lead times have led to growing dissatisfaction amongst end-users.

Almost one third of respondents rated quality as the primary consideration when making purchasing decisions. But 26.5% identified price as the most significant factor. In reality, the purchase is influenced by careful comparison of the two.

"Customers in certain application areas revealed greater interest in price as a determinant of motor purchase," commented Mik Sabiers, research manager at Frost & Sullivan. "A low price is perceived to be an important factor among customers in the process industry sector and in the pumps, valves and compressor markets. Manufacturers offering an effective mix of quality, price and delivery should be able to enhance or protect market share."

In terms of market presence and customer recognition, ABB and Siemens scored best amongst respondents. But Leroy-Somer is dominant in the French market and Brook Crompton holds a leading, but weakening position in the UK.

The survey also revealed that there's a limit to customers' willingness to pay premium prices for high quality and good manufacturer reputation. According to Frost & Sullivan's survey report, "Siemens may become vulnerable to lower-priced competitors such as WEG."

Although a relative newcomer to the motor market, Brazilian manufacturer WEG already has just under 5% market share and survey respondents rated the company higher than Siemens on both customer service and price. Sabiers advises that, "WEG needs to focus on improving customer perception of its product quality and technical knowledge. A system of customer referrals in which satisfied clients are rewarded for recommending WEG to others may achieve this aim at relatively low cost."

Steve Barker, UK business manager Drives Centre at Siemens, commented: "WEG are devaluing the motor market by charging prices that are way below the accepted price level… We just have to try to show customers that our motors are superior designs and better quality than the competition. Customers need to be sure that when they put an inverter on a motor it's actually going to do what it's supposed to do. All our motors are inverter-rated."

Other motor manufacturers ranked poorly in the survey. Both Leroy Somer and Brook Crompton performed badly on customer service, technical knowledge and lead times.

ABB on the other hand appears to sit in pole position to grow its share of motor sales. The company ranked well on a range of measures, including price, quality, reputation and delivery time.

The report concludes: "Characterised by frequent, low volume and low value purchases, the European integral horsepower motors market is highly focused on both AC motors and low voltage motors, which respectively accounted for some 80% and 84% of total sales. Respondents revealed that more than two thirds of motors purchased were at power ratings of less than 7.5kW. In the end-user market, a remarkable 84.4% of respondents specified their acquisition of motors as replacement purchases.

"In order to maximise price benefits, 60% of customers purchase motors directly from the manufacturer with the remaining 40% using distributors for purchase."


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