In order to improve its competitiveness in increasingly-challenging economic conditions, SEW EURODRIVE is placing greater focus on enhancing its service offering, while improving customer satisfaction.

Raymond Obermeyer, new MD of SEW EURODRIVE
Raymond Obermeyer, new MD of SEW EURODRIVE

Due to a gradual slowdown in new investments, industrial operations are opting to maintain and repair existing equipment, as opposed to investing capital in new machinery. SEW EURODRIVE MD Raymond Obermeyer indicates that this has prompted an increase in demand for field service.

“A general industry trend is that operations are reducing overhead costs by diverting budgets towards maintenance to extend the total life cycle of equipment. As a result, we are upgrading our service offering countrywide, by hiring more technicians and improving on internal staff training,” he states.

According to Obermeyer, SEW EURODRIVE’s ultimate goal is to ensure that all of its national branches are fully-capable of providing value-added after-sales service and technical support on a 24/7 basis.

An example of this commitment to improved customer support is the official merging of SEW EURODRIVE’s Variolution and Maxolution business units to form the Maxo-Variolution business unit in mid-2015.

Variolution is packaged selling whereby 80% of the package is standard and 20% is customisable. Maxolution, alternatively, comprises a suite of fully-customisable components and services that can be tailored to project-specific requirements from start to finish.

By combining the two business units, SEW EURODRIVE will focus on offering a full suite of services, including pre-sales. Another major benefit of the merger is that additional training and upskilling will also be implemented across the two units in a bid to offer better integrated services.

“Maxo-Variolution represents our electronic division, where we have already hired three new mechatronic engineers to bolster our service capabilities in this field. With regards to our industrial gear (IG) and geared motors division, we are actively seeking qualified artisans to improve our field service capabilities in these areas too,” Obermeyer continues.

The importance of localisation in sustaining growth

All local SEW EURODRIVE IG units are assembled at the company’s Nelspruit facility, which features specialised 30-ton assembly cranes, thereby reducing costs associated to international shipping fees. Obermeyer reveals that the units can also be produced faster, which reduces project lead times.

“Availability of spares and turnaround time on repairs is also minimised to further ensure high levels of availability. Due to SEW EURODRIVE having the expertise to assemble these units in South Africa, there is a considerable cost advantage paying in Rand, as opposed to importing new parts,” he adds.

Another area of customer improvement has been through the implementation of the new standardisation of logistics and assembly processes (SLAP) system at SEW EURODRIVE Johannesburg earlier this year. SLAP specifically focuses on the goods receipt process, assembly and capacity planning, commissioning assembly, and packing and shipping.

The system is estimated to have already improved operational efficiency by up to 40%. As a result, a further four South African branches will implement SLAP in the near future, taking into consideration the lessons learned during the rollout in Johannesburg.

This is in line with SEW EURODRIVE’s global ‘Standardisation of Services’ plan to mechanise and eventually link all branches, in order to provide uniform, integrated products and services.

Despite a prolonged slump in the industrial sector, Obermeyer remains optimistic of the future outlook for SEW EURODRIVE. “We remain in a good position, and have been awarded a number of high-profile projects ahead of our competitors. We are pressing hard to grow our market share, in spite of the economic downturn,” he continues.

Obermeyer believes that there is still potential for measurable growth by adapting to outside macroeconomic influences. “In the current market, companies need to work smarter and harder to win business, and that is exactly what SEW EURODRIVE is currently doing by striving to improve customer service and experience in all aspects of our business,” he concludes.

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