Project size is another factor. EPC and engineering partnerships are viable options on large projects. For small to medium-size projects below 100 million euros, EPCM is usually the only choice available because these projects are low on the priority list for large EPC suppliers.
However, there is definitely demand in the global marketplace for EPC partners who are willing to take overall responsibility, and this is a factor which affects mid-tier companies in particular. „Especially in regions like Africa, customers want EPC,“ reported Dr. Reinhold Festge, President of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) and Partner at Haver & Boecker, a mid-tier systems provider. Festge advocates collaboration between German and European industrial plant manufacturers to provide „EPC capability“. The „Excellence United“ initiative brings together five manufacturers of special pharmaceutical machinery. The partnership is able to deliver single-source solutions worldwide, and it illustrates how the strategy can work in practice.
Mid-tier system suppliers often have an advantage compared to traditional EPC suppliers in one respect. Many already have local service organizations in the target markets (Asia, Africa, South America and Russia). Industrial plant manufacturers such as Outotec which supplies systems for the metallurgy industry believe that setting up local service organizations is an effective strategy for gaining a foothold in new markets, and it also compensates for the ups and downs of the project business which is susceptible to the effects of economic cycles.
Summary: The medium-term outlook for industrial plant manufacturers that provide products and services to the chemical industry is more than positive. However, the markets and the structure of the projects are changing. Faced with increased competition from Asia, companies will find it even harder to acquire large projects. Moreover, changing market conditions will influence role allocation between owner engineering teams and industrial plant manufacturing ser- vice providers.
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