Crystal Ball Valves?
Back in 1998 when Red Dragon Limited started trading, computers weren’t on every desk and very few companies were using the internet which gave a much different valve marketplace to that we see today.
Hand written faxes, delivery notes and orders were common place; the telephone was the essential tool, sales enquiries were largely reliant on personal relationships and sourcing unusual products was limited to known contacts that may be able to suggest a solution.
Ten years later, the internet, email and websites were vital to almost every company and the traditional regional distribution model was struggling against the rapidly widening market horizon this communication brought. Product enquiries could appear on email from anywhere in the world and any company with a website now had the opportunity to achieve direct export sales.
Today we have new buzz words to consider in our market like Industry 4.0 and the Internet of Things (IoT), the implications of which are likely to affect future business in some way but it’s difficult to anticipate what this may be. Certainly, new products may develop that offer benefits in plant communication and control, many of which may be ‘wireless’ or self-powered and not needing a traditional power supply connection but can we predict future products and their benefits in a way that will help our businesses?
With the increasing availability of software Personal Assistants and speech control of devices, how will this translate to industrial usage and the way that products are sourced, supplied and employed? Websites will continue to be important but it is inevitable that speech based browsing will drive further developments in website design and use, requiring increased investment for every company to keep up.
For distributors that are reliant on their partner manufacturers and not having as much awareness of the manufacturer product development pipeline as they would like, the result is likely to be fairly rapid changes in technology with little opportunity for forward planning. Equally, with rapid development of new technologies and their application in our industry, will the reduced time before product obsolescence actually increase plant MRO cost, contrary to what the market wants? How will 3D printing and delivery by drone affect the supply chain?
Closer communication between manufacturers and distributors will be essential in this changing environment to capitalise on the strengths of both for the benefit of the end user. At Red Dragon, we have significantly widened our scope of supply since 1998 and each of our partner manufacturers is essential to our future plans. By working together we understand each manufacturer and can feed back customer experiences to reinforce or redirect their goals so that we all benefit.
The next ten years are likely to bring a great many changes not just to our industry sector but in all our daily lives, let’s embrace change with enthusiasm.
Tel: +44(0)1443 772500
Published in Valve User Magazine Issue 41
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